Thursday, March 29, 2012

Differences between this crossing and Hawaii in 2009 - Day 9

I have been thinking about how different this crossing is from the down-wind passage to Hawaii that I sailed a few years ago. The most notable difference is that there are two of us on the boat this time, versus one. Apart from the obvious social benefits, this allows us to keep proper watches and still get some sleep. It also makes sail changes much easier, with one of us on the foredeck and the other adjusting the sheets, traveller, and furler line from the cockpit. Finally, having Rani on board has made me more cautious, taking time to talk things through before dashing up on deck. While our relationship is not without friction, Rani has been an excellent first mate and cheerful companion to date.

Ladybug II was designed from inception to cross oceans and was re-fitted about 10 years ago with modern ocean crossing equipment. Our first Ladybug was a Cal-29, designed for weekend cruising and club racing. The things that we are really happy to have on the new boat are a reliable windvane (Ladybug had a light wheel pilot that was always on the edge of coping with big seas), small windows, a sea hood that covers the main hatch, and much higher freeboard, which combined with a small cockpit makes her much drier. We are also grateful for the radar and the SSB radio. The first allowed us to detect a ship last night before we saw her and to track the vessel to see if we were on a collision course. The second permits us to send and receive emails, get weather faxes and forecasts, and stay in touch with other cruisers who are making the same crossing. By comparison, I was sailing blind on Ladybug - with only a mediocre SSB receiver.

After 10 days out, I don't think I would want to do another long crossing on my own or without the benefits outlined above.

Our position at 14:30 Zulu was N 13 09 and W 120 15. We ran 139 miles in the previous 24 hours and have 670 miles to go to our ITCZ crossing point. We have had much cloud cover with drizzle in the distance. The seas are large and throw us around, making cooking and moving around difficult. Winds have been about 15 - 20 knots and we have been running wing and wing with 2 reefed main and poled out jib, partly furled. We have seen GPS speeds in excess of 10 knots due to the sharp high swells - quite a ride!

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