Day 1 on the Ocean
25 July 2011 | South Pacific
We have completed the first 24 hours at sea since we left Moorea, covering 154 nautical miles in that time period. The seas are not too bad, with 1 meter wind waves and 1.5 meter swell every 9 seconds. The winds are averaging around 15 knots from the ESE.
The first night at sea is always the hardest. It takes a while to get used to the boat's motion and the sound of the waves and wind and creaks and groans and halyards slapping against the mast. After dinner I tried to get some sleep before my midnight to 3 am watch, but found it difficult. Instead, I read a few more chapters of "The Thin Man". Pascale, likewise, had a hard time sleeping. Sleeping on a boat that's heeled over at an angle takes getting used to.
My midnight shift started with light winds and the boat doing a mere 4.5 knots. I reduced the reef in the mainsail and jib and got the speed back up to the 6.5 to 7 knot range, where we need to be. The occasional wave crashes over the bow and blue water sweeps across the deck giving everything a good rinse.
The moon came up shortly thereafter giving the seas a silvery glow. I watched "One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest" on my laptop PC in the cockpit while keeping an eye on our course and the sail trim. Nurse Ratched seemed as mean as ever.
Daniel, our new crew member, took over at 0300 and kept watch until Pascale's shift at 0600.
I awoke shortly before 9:00 this morning and made breakfast for the crew.
Shortly before noon I got out the sextant and started taking noon sights. This consists of making a series of measurements of the height of the sun to find out the exact angle and time of the sun's zenith. My noon sight angle was pretty good but the estimated time of the sun's zenith was very approximate since I only had time to take 3 sights (normally you would want a dozen or so). Nevertheless, I calculated, using the sight reduction tables and our sextant readings, latitude 15 deg 15' South and longitude 149 deg 50' West ... only about 35 miles from our GPS position!
I hope to try to take a more careful and accurate noon sight again tomorrow.