July 4th, 2009

...now browsing by day


4th of July on the Atlantic

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

At 19.15 hrs I am at

So far this has been the best passage sailing that I can remember. Yesterday the wind died down to where every other sane passage maker would be running his motor. But with my full main and 140% I managed to stay close to 4 knots. During the night the genoa sheet snapshackle broke open, twice. The sail would just flap like a flag. The reason was that with the rocking motion due to the surface surges the wind is take out of the sail, momentarily, and then when it fills it takes a hard jerk on the sheet (sheet=rope that controls the sail shape). That slowed me down some but the wind slowly built during the day and right now it is between 20 and 25 knots, but the seas are still relatively flat from the earlier calmer winds and this makes for fast sailing. And as you see I am still staying above the 100 mile per day. And bear in mind that I am calculating this to destination, whereas I am not going in a straight line, to-day I have been sailing more towards the north, to a way point suggested by Herb. This is because at the higher latitudes the westerlies are usually more reliable. A brief interruption; the wind still increasing, needed to slab in the 3rd reef in the main. Going like gang busters. I edited about 30 shots of the Portuguese Man of War (I think..) Got some good ones. If the weather calms I plan to hang from my toes down the lifelines and try scoop one up. If they were not so rare I’d not be going through so much effort and might be less in awe of their incredible delicate beauty. What if Dandelions and Sparrows were rare? On my early morning bike rides from the boat yard in Green Cove Springs into town I used to marvel at the precision of the way the dandelions would face the early morning sun.

I started reading Jan de Hartog’s “The Call of the Sea”. He was born in the late twenties in Holland and came to the USA in the mid fifties. He wrote mostly about the sea. In his preface for this book he ends with the observation: “The call of the sea only ends when it is finally obeyed”. And my thoughts are that one can only obey a command when you fully understand it and are capable of obeying it. Some people figure that for the distances I have covered since 2005, over 30,000 miles, I must be a good sailor. But I meet many sailors who have done much fewer miles who are far better sailors. Just to give a few examples, that the learning process never stops. 1) To douse a head sail I have to release a halyard (Val)stopper in the cockpit and then work my self to the foredeck quickly before the sail drags in the water. Only yesterday did I find the solution; I take the tail of the halyard forward cleat it off on the bow mooring line cleat, go back release the stopper and then have control from the cleat right where the sail needs to be pulled down. Why did I not discover this earlier? The problem is that single handed sailors have no-one to learn from. 2) Since most of this sailing is down wind or broad reach, I use the spinaker sheets for the head sail this keeps the clew (lowest aft part of the sail triangle) further out board than using the genoa block on the deck track. These sheets are lead through blocks on shackles attached to the most aft life line stanchion. But as I described above these sheets, when the wind is momentarily taken out of the sails, will slacken and then the block drops hard on the deck. And my head is just below this spot when I am in my bunk. So, the noise is aggravating. As of yesterday I have hung these blocks with a shoe lace attached to the life line, no more dropping to the deck, Jack sleeps in peace.

My contribution to to-day’s festivities is that, the third reef I just put in, has three reefing grommets and I use a Red a White and a Blue sail tie through them. Patriotism of the finest kind on “Fleetwood”

Later: 20.20 hrs Just talked to Herb and I have jibed to not go any further north to avoid stronger winds in the next days. Right now I am down to just the 90% and rocking and rolling in about 25 knots.