Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Marquesas - Tuamotus: Day 2 - All about Wind

Time: 1735UTC, COG 220T, SOG 6.0kts, Distance Remaining: 276nm

We had to ask our fellow traveler to leave. He spent the night on one of our solar panels and was still cleaning his feathers there, when the sun rose higher and higher. Any shadow on the panel - even the one of a bird - restricts its input greatly and we need all the electricity we can get. The wind generator is hardly doing anything in this kind of breeze. Yes, we should have charged those boat batteries before we left...

Today, the wind was lighter than predicted, but its angle being 30° off - in the "wrong direction" (more behind us) - had bigger consequences for our speed. We did manage to keep both sails up, but moved slowly towards our destination. We have always said "It's better to have a comfortable trip that takes a bit longer, than a fast and bumpy one!" On this journey, however, if we don't make it in four days and six hours, we will have to "stay out" another 16 hours. I will explain why in another blog. It might be time to fly that spinnaker when the sun comes up!

When you sail, it is all about the wind. Forget the rain in squalls. Sure, it is wet and inconvenient, but it is the wind in them that messes things up. The same goes for waves and swell. The sea would be dead calm if it isn't for the wind. The harder it blows, the more uncomfortable the ocean becomes and the choppier the anchorages get. The wind decides how fast you sail and where you can go. And, how comfortable the ride is.

I realize the weather is not always perfect in the Caribbean, but at least the predictions are pretty accurate and the wind consistent. Often, we arrived at our destination quicker than planned and the trips were straightforward. That might have had something to do with the fact that we never had the wind behind us going up and down the island chain, but, nevertheless, unobstructed by land, the wind was reliable. Downwind sailing is easier, but slower, and we have been looking forward to it on this ocean.

The wind can be your friend, your enemy or your acquaintance. When we plan our trips, it is based on the wind promising to be our best friend, if not a good friend. That's why we leave when we leave! Once at sea, reality kicks in and the wind becomes more of an acquaintance. It pushes us along and is
friendly enough to help us out, but it doesn't go out of its way or really cares about us getting there fast or direct. At some intervals it becomes our enemy, working against us with annoying shifts, becoming fluky or dropping out altogether. Or by going crazy, blowing hard and kicking up the seas. Luckily that doesn't happen too often and - knock on wood - real storms have stayed away.

As for tonight, the wind seems to have freshened a bit. It appears to do so after the sun is down and we hope to make up some speed during these twelve hours. After a few squalls, I am settling into my nightly routine. In the Caribbean, a squall meant shortening sail and picking up speed. Here in the Pacific, a squall causes wind shifts and then sucks up everything, leaving the boat bobbing aimlessly, sails flogging, boom banging, until the previous conditions resume. Usually.

All our fruit has turned yellow. Maybe I should have specified our preference of unripe fruit when asking for it? No scurvy for us, and if someone would like to share our 70 ripe bananas, 4 full-size papayas, 8 sweet and juicy grapefruits or 10 massive mangoes, you know where to find them: about halfway between Ua Pou and Apataki!

No comments: