Saturday, March 24, 2012

Birthday Musings - Day 4

I awoke late today. Rani ad let me sleep in until 5 am and I had 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep - bliss! It is my 47th birthday and this is one of the best presents you can get on a passage. The second present I received 45 minutes later when a light northwest wind began to fill in and I was able to turn Ladybug south toward Clarion Island, after a night of very light westerly progress. My third gift was a stunning sunrise, golden and framed by a line of ragged dark clouds under which we had sailed in the night. This is my 4th or 5th birthday celebrated on board, but the first while underway.

Our 4th day on passage was another quiet one - wind wise. We ran for much of the day like a cormorant with its wings spread to dry, broad reaching with the jib poled out opposite the main. In the afternoon the wind shifted and we took the pole down but continued to broad reach with the wind on our aft starboard quarter. Ladybug rolled around, even with the poled out jib to steady her, but life below was quite fine (as Hemingway might have said).

I finished "A Farewell to Arms" by Hemingway. I really enjoyed the book with its sparse narrative and unique style. We are now both listening to an audio book - a 'biography' of cancer titled the "Emperor of All Maladies" - powerful and well written/spoken. Audio books are a great way to wile away the night watches without keeping the off-watch crew awake with a light.

We also watched the final episode of season 1 of "The Six Million Dollar Man" on Rani's little 10" netbook. This is the first TV series I have re-watched from my childhood and I can easily recall how enthralled and uncritical I was as a child. The series now appears dated, the plots clumsy and contrived, but Steve Austin has plenty of charisma and there are pretty girls and evil men aplenty in most episodes. I suspect the writers borrowed this formula from James Bond and similar action/thriller movies. It is also interesting to note that several episodes touch on issues of feminism and women entering a male dominated world, with female astronauts and cowgirls.

Math and sailing - It was brought home to me yesterday how useful basic math is while out on passage. Apart from one obvious use in calculating your position using a sextant, basic math is needed to answer these questions - How far away can you see an approaching container ship whose lights are 70 feet above the sea? - Why is it that the wind indicator does not point into the 'true' wind and how can you determine from the wind indicator and your boat speed and course what the true wind is? Unfortunately my trigonometry and vector arithmetic skills are very rusty and Rani's are no better. The fact that I had trouble answering these questions also points out how much we have come to rely on the Internet as a reference. I would normally Google to look up a formula or locate a tutorial.

Nature-wise, we have seen a couple of brown boobies, one of whom tried to land on our mast yesterday. We also frequently see storm petrels flitting like swallows amongst the seas. These tireless little birds were also common on my passages to Hawaii and Canada on Ladybug I. The only sea life in the last day were dolphins, which swam alongside in the night, streaming trails of green phosphorescence. In the dark it is much easier to see how they move, with a steady pulsing left/right flicking of their tails at about 4 flicks a second. Quite lovely to watch.

Our position today (March 24) at 1430 Zulu was 19 36 N 113 26 W. We are running SW at about 4.5 knots in 5 knots of NW breeze. We hope to reach Isla Clarion tomorrow morning.


Mike Bennett said...

Happy birthday! I've tried to send email to winlink but it claims "fatal errors"

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Chris! I too just finished Farewell to Arms. What an incredible book.
John and I have a music website: see We've been hired to play on Via Rail in July.
Your sailing adventure sounds quite amazing. I'm glad that you are realizing your life's dreams. Regards to Rani. Sharon