Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Balancing Progress with Comfort and Sanity

We had a rough and rolling time last night with 10 foot northwest swells and a short evil chop from the north. Ladybug twisted and turned like a carnival ride, rolling through 30 to 40 degrees every few seconds. We stuffed towels and padding into the cupboards as crockery and jars began to jump and dance to the rhythm.

Such conditions drive us to try different sail combinations and boat headings. We began the night with the jib poled out behind the main on a broad reach. This was steadier but was taking us far to the west of our desired course. So we ran downwind toward our hypothetical turning point to cross the doldrums (at 5 deg N, 128 deg W). We moved the pole across to windward of the main - no mean feat on a pitching deck at night. Thankfully Rani can work the roller furler line and jib sheet while I work the various lines holding the pole. However, this change only resulted in worse rolling, with the main working against the jib, turning the boat off to starboard, followed by the wind vane turning it back again. Next, we struck the main altogether and tried running downwind with just the jib, but the winds lightened and the large opposing swells kept taking the wind out of the sail. This happens because the boat is rolled into and away from the wind with such force that the motion creates a new wind. The sails back and fill and crash around, which is both aggravating to the crew and bad for the integrity of stitching and cloth.

Ultimately, at 5 am, we returned to the steadier broad reach we had started with, taking the pole down altogether. Both of us were exhausted and irritable and harsh words flew back and forth on the foredeck as we struggled with our fourth sail change of the night. However by 5:30, Rani was back in the bunk while I dozed and occasionally looked out for shipping. We probably managed 2 or 3 hours of sleep at the most. Clearly we cannot continue this way for another 3 weeks. So - lesson learned - sacrifice progress for comfort on long passages, especially when there are only two people on board to share the watches. Tonight - unless things settle down, we will steady her off on a beam reach and get some much needed sleep.

Our position this morning at 14:30 Zulu was 16 23 N 117 24 W, with 126 miles run in the last 24 hours. Winds mainly NE 5-15 knots.

Correction - the whale that Rani mentioned in the last blog post was a sperm whale, not a fin.

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