Keepin On... one squall at a time...
18 May 2016 | 32 12'N:77 32'W, 8 days to my arrival... keep an eye on the tracker!!
By late afternoon yesterday, the sky had turned from hazy sunshine to the familiar lines of squalls¬... I am in the Gulf Stream and the effects of the hot stream water midst the cooler surrounding waters, and the late day cooling of the land, seem to accumulate in convection over the ¬'stream¬'. It is always like this in May¬... it is the nemesis of the stream¬... such a powerful river that doubles the speed that Inspired Sanity moves over ground¬... there is a payback. Most nights, the sky fills with thunderstorms and squally winds that can double in intensity in minutes as the squall lines approach.
Even before sunset fell, a drizzly rain began, and by the time it was dark, the night was being lit up by lightening strikes to the west. Then the winds began to gust as the rain started. By the time I had one reef in the main, I needed a second, and the rain was pounding the deck¬... I ran below between reefs to find my raincoat, which I hadn¬'t needed since I was near Cape Horn, the rain near Panama too warm to bother with a coat. It has been nearly a drought around the world, my water tanks crying to me for a bit of real rain. But it was pouring buckets as I set the second reef. And almost as soon as I finished, I could feel that the initial blow from the squall line was subsiding¬... but the rain continued. I considered letting the reef back out¬... but left it in. By the looks of the sky, it would be a long night of reefs in and reefs out. I would have to pace myself.
I stood on the deck, glad that it was still warm enough to make the whole situation very tolerable¬... the rain had worked its way up the back of my jacket, and my shirt sleeves were soaked with water as it dripped down filling my jacket sleeve every time I had to raise my hands. It has been the same all the way around the world. It struck me as absurd that I didn¬'t manage to get a dry top before I left last July¬... Now, I am on my way to New England¬... as soon as I get north of the Gulf Stream, the world is going to change¬... the water going from 80 degrees to 55 degrees, the night air no longer just a bit cool¬... It will feel cold. I will have to organize my wool socks and rubber clogs, my waders¬... my heavier foul weather gear is still unworn. I never made it to the Horn where it would have been necessary. I have clothes that I have been saving for this neck of the woods¬... late spring in the North Atlantic. It is still freezing at night not far inland. It could be colder than anything I faced in the Southern Ocean, as it was its summer.
As the squall line moved past us, the winds clocked ¬... and I would shift the steering vane¬... go below and keep watch¬... I was already exhausted from the hard days sailing¬... it is glorious for IS to sail nearly 10kts but it is also a lot of G Forces below¬... it isn¬'t easy sailing by any means. The winds clocked and clocked all night. One squall after another went by, the winds nearly becalming between each one before the winds would shift and freshen up, the rain would start, then dwindle as the winds would dwindle too¬... Over the night, the seas grew and became more and more confused as the winds were blowing from so many different directions, and the larger N Atlantic Ocean had its own ENE swell underlying it all. I was fairly far offshore so the tides are less noticeable, but they add to the confusion.
And of course, the favored wind direction was dead downwind¬.... By morning, the winds were light, I had abandoned the jib for just the main¬... to set the pole would be futile with the shifting wind patterns. The wallow that developed was one of the most violent motions I have ever experienced sailing. I can¬'t remember ever having the boat so jarringly rolled from rail to rail, the boom banging with a crash mercilessly, I dared not prevent it too tight¬... below, I cuddled up on my bunk and somehow, my mind was just quiet¬... I would just endure it. I had no choice. I didn¬'t want to sail perpendicular to the Stream, that would be worse.
As the sunrise finally came, it was obscured by thick clouds, remaining so dark that I had to use a light still to read. The winds were from the SW¬...dead behind me¬...yet no matter which way I tacked the mainsail, I couldn¬'t sail my angle¬... it would pull one way or the other with the tack¬... After tacking several times¬... I was just about to give up, when the winds lulled and shifted to the WNW. I was sailing on a beam¬...Hallelujah. Finally, the wallowing stopped after hours and hours of the tumult below and above. It was miraculous. We picked up speed and IS took on a smooth glide across the water. We were sailing, not bludgeoning into the waves.
I had made a fair days sailing once I got below and was able to do my daily tallies of miles gone, miles made good toward getting home¬... discovered the actual course I had been on. I have 312nm to Hatteras and 756nm to RI¬... the numbers seem so so very small compared to the tens of thousands of miles I have already watched clock under Inspired Sanity over the last nine months of sailing¬...and yet, today, it seems so very far. I have three frontal patterns to face in the next 5 days¬... but I think that I will have a shot at making for home after that before the next set arrives.
Today¬'s sailing was a surprise. The NW winds have persisted all day at 10-15kts, instead of the light winds promised¬... though I had plenty of light winds in the early morning hours¬... the winds are now gathering some steam as the day¬'s squall lines again have started to stack up, one behind the other. With the sunset, I will be able to see the lightening flashing in the taller anvil clouds. It is going to be another night in the Gulf Stream in the spring. I am already reefed down to the third reef in the main, and two reefs in the genoa¬...
Tonight there is a front that is to approach, so these squall lines may pack a bit more punch¬... the wind just clocking to NNE¬... right on my nose. I am nearly close hauled already, so I have no choice but to sail where the winds will allow me to go¬... I will head E first, I am on a 70*T tack, then tack back into the Gulf Stream later¬... as I am on the east side of the stream already and it will be better to be out of the stream with the winds against the stream currents. At least for the moment¬...it is a lovely sunset, the sun still beaming into the companionway, drying everything out from the day¬'s rains. It is a bit different, tonight, as I am already in ¬'reefed¬' position¬... hoping to continue to make enough headway for now, as the winds vary. I am still in the Stream, so, despite the direction being E of my rumline... we are going 8kts!! I guess the current must be going this way too... no wonder the seas have been so contrary.
A long long long night ahead¬... nine more long nights ahead as it seems that there is to be no reprieve on this passage north¬... one front, one gale, and another gale ahead. I dare say, that after this last crossing, I will hope to stop tempting fate and choose to sail like gentlemen do¬... Never Sailing to Weather¬...
In my earlier sailing years, I would chide those who rarely lifted a sail on their motorable sailboat, having many a discussion with my boss at Seatow¬... He always considered the sails an ¬'engine¬' in the sense that they are propulsion, expecting sailors to sail if they could when their engines would fail¬... at least until nearer a point where maneuvering required assistance¬... I would plead for the sailors¬... most buying a motor boat today, only sailing when the conditions make it a pleasant affair¬... but I was saying it tongue in cheek, as I too could have self-righteous attitude about the lack of true seamanship amongst new sailboat owners today¬...
Yet after this last journey, I have come to appreciate the sailors who refuse to go offshore because the weather is too unpredictable¬...those who chose their passages so carefully, ensuring it will be a pleasant experience¬... those who choose to motor unless the moment is truly a ¬'sailing Kodak moment¬'¬... Sailing is a hard task master when one gets out so far, or chooses to ¬'sail without stopping¬'¬... insisting on taking on whatever Mother Nature dishes out¬... I too am looking forward to the ¬'iron genny¬' that can take up the gaps in the calms, and the option of pulling into an inlet, when I would rather not face the upcoming gale on the nose. Like now¬... If I had all the time in the world¬... and no determination to make it to RI without a stop from Panama¬... I would head to Beaufort, NC¬... but¬... Not for today. But it can be for the next seasons delivery.
By Friday, the winds should have continued to clock to the SW¬...there is a front coming off north of Hatteras overnight into the 21st. These SW winds should get me north of Hatteras a good distance before the winds clock around again to the N/ NE¬... I will have to see what the wind direction will be behind this front so that I can tack the right way¬... Then there is a third front¬...the largest¬... on the 23rd into the 24th, coming off the Chesapeake Bay¬... I will be right in its path¬... but I am trusting that I will manage to make some headway toward home midst it and once it passes, I will make a rumline for Block Island and into the outer Narragansett Bay.
Today, to distract myself from the bliss of the sailing challenges, I am digging, once again, into the book, The Writer¬'s Journey¬... and it is working. I am able to get my mind working away, being productive, despite the sea states¬... A good therapy along with meditating¬... resting. I have spent as much time as I can lying down, storing up energy for the nights; the time when the squalls come out to play¬...
Bob is due back from the Bahamas today!!!! And then he will be scrambling to get the same boat ready to deliver to Woods Hole, Massachusetts¬... We will be climbing along the coast together¬... yahoo¬... SV Ananda, with dear friends Bart and Dottie, is also going to be heading up the coast¬...they timed their leaving to allow them to be there for the May 31st event, so unfortunately, they may arrive after the event Friday¬... but we will have our own ¬'event¬' when they arrive.
Life is GRANDE!!! Keepin On Sailin On Caring¬... Taking each day one at a time¬...each moment new with new energy if I will allow myself to ask and listen inwardly for all that I need. Nine days¬... it is so few¬... and we will be celebrating a new stage for me¬...thank you with all my heart for being so deeply involved and connected to this amazing journey¬... I trust that it has unfolded and revealed much to you as it has to me, along the way.
Christopher Vogler writes this about one of the archetypes seen in storytelling, truly a role played out in our egoic self¬...the Shadow. It reveals the importance of being true to our true identity by expressing our true self in creativity. Denying our true being is denying the divine beauty that is waiting to unfold from within, to without. ¬"My understanding of the Shadow archetype, for example, continues to evolve. I have been impressed all over again by the power of this pattern, especially as it operates within the individual as a repository for unexpressed feelings and desires. It is a force that accumulates when you fail to honor your gifts, follow the call of your muses, or live up to your principles and ideals. It has great but subtle power, operating on deep levels to communicate with you, perhaps sabotaging your efforts, upsetting your balance until you realize the message these events bring- that you must express your creativity, your true nature, or die.¬"
Fairest of winds and the love of the oceans Only Gratitude Donna