Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Evanston: unrealistic; still more videos; Homo imbibens

        While I continue to prefer to understate wind speed and wave height rather than exaggerate, I am coming to accept that I err too much on the low side.  In the 55 knot gale last year off Durban, the met service declared the waves to be 6 meters/20’.  I thought they were 10’-12’.
        The most recent evidence of my under reporting can be found in the image above where GANNET was in the green patch off South Africa and Namibia.  The color indicates waves of 5 and 6 meters/16’ to 20’.  As you can see from the following excerpt from the passage log, I estimated them at 8’-9’.  

        I am not quite sure what to do about this, but I am going to try to be more accurate.
        Thanks to the Raymarine masthead unit, which was still working then, I had the wind speed right.

        I thank Jim who did the research and provided me with the images.

February 19, Sunday
South Atlantic Ocean

0800  I woke at 0200 feeling that we were sailing too fast.  I reached up and turned on the wind display.  30 knots apparent, which coming from near the stern meant low gale force true.  When I turned on my iPhone I was startled to see SOG 14.1 knots.  Only momentarily.  But that is the highest speed I have seen on GANNET and the jib was furled to 40%.  SOG dropped back to 9, then up to 13.  And I was up, lowering the hood and furling the jib down to t-shirt size.  

The wind continues at around 30 knots and we continue to show some double digit SOG even with that small amount of sail set.  But for the tiller pilot steering we would probably be lying ahull. Unfortunately it is a Raymarine out there.  This is Pelagic weather.  But it would be dangerous to try to make the switch now.  The Raymarine has the cover on it, and we haven’t been taking a lot of water over the deck.  The spray hood has definitely helped reduce the amount getting below.  One of the toggles has broken.  I have spares, but don’t want to try to replace the broken one now.  The lines clipping the flaps down are holding the hood in place.

Sky hazy blue.  Barometer high.  Waves not big at 5’, but some of them are throwing us around.

Everything is difficult to do in the Great Cabin.

32º03’S     15º54’E
day’s run 158 miles    COG   313º    SOG   6.6
St. Helena   1516 miles    304º

Two waves knocked us down in opposite directions within a minute an hour ago.  I had the lee cloth up on one side.  Now on both.  I am wearing my foul weather gear which I put on intending to go on deck and have us lie ahull.  The apparent wind decreased to 20 knots, so I didn’t, but it is back to 27 and I may.  Unless there is a decrease I will definitely lie ahull tonight.

The spray hood has definitely reduced the water coming below, but at one point a flood come from beside me to port and soaked me sitting at Central.  Perhaps from around the port chain plate.  I’ve not had a problem there before and will investigate when I can.

Still sunny.  Barometer high and steady. 

1500  Lying ahull.  We were being beat up.  I went out a half an hour ago, furled the scrap of jib, tied the tiller amidships and brought the tiller pilot below.  The wind is howling and the waves are 8’-9’/3 meters, close together, and some with breaking crests.  Wind readings now 30 to 37 knots.

I removed the tiller pilot from its cover.  It was essentially dry.

We are being pushed at 3 to 5 knots offshore on a course somewhere between 280 º and 300º.

Even though much less water has come below than in the past, most things in the cabin are damp.

While on deck I glanced at the port chain plate.  There is a deck plate around it that I will have to remove to see if that is the source of the flood.  This wasn’t just a leak, but an inpouring of water.

1715  I am sitting on the port pipe berth, facing the centerline, my feet braced on the starboard pipe berth, listening to music—just now the Portuguese, Dulce Pontes—a gin and tonic on the floorboards.  I can see through the closed companionway a lot of breaking white on the blue ocean.  The wind reading is 33.  I saw 39 a few minutes ago.  There is a huge difference in lying ahull as opposed to trying to sail.  GANNET really does become a cork without the resistance of even a small amount of set sail.  A few waves slam into us, but most pass harmlessly.

Having said that, I hope this blows itself out tonight and we can be a sailboat instead of a cork tomorrow.  Sailboats are more interesting than corks.

1815  I was about to pour water into the JetBoil when a wave hit, rolling us far over.  Both hands occupied I could not protect myself and my head hit the main bulkhead hard left ear first.  When we rolled back I reached up and felt my ear.  No blood on my hand,  continued to pour the water for tonight’s freeze dry beef stew.  

A voyage is real as much of modern life is not.  A voyage is a problem to be solved with your mind and body.  I left Durban for St. Helena.  I either get there or I don’t.  Along the way I, and my ear, adapt.

1900  Order is lost on GANNET in a gale.  Gravity is inexorable.  Packets  are overturned.  Glasses spilled.  

In the roll when I was about to pour water into the JetBoil, some of the freeze dry food flew about the cabin.  When after eating it, I went to rinse the measuring cup in the ocean, another wave hit, slamming my head and left ear into this time the side of the companionway,

I refilled the spilled plastic tumbler with boxed red wine.  

I’ll restore order when I can.

February 20, Monday

31º12’S     14º53’E
day’s run  73 miles    COG   320º    SOG  3.5
St. Helena    1445 miles   305º

First time today I’ve dared to take the laptop from its waterproof case.

Two severe knockdowns, one at around 0400, the other two hours later, at least one of which put the masthead in the water.  The new Windex installed in Durban after last year’s knockdown in the Indian Ocean is broken.  That didn’t last long.  The masthead tricolor and Raymarine wind unit are still in place and working, although the Raymarine continued to function for a while after the previous knockdown.  I hope it does work.  That information is useful.

I was on the starboard pipe berth for the first knockdown.  The lee cloth kept me in place, but instantly awake I also reached out and braced myself with my arm as things dropped through space. Imagine waking up as your  bedroom suddenly turns 90º and what was the floor is now the wall.

The companionway slat fell out and washed overboard.  I have the one I use in port in place.  It is lashed on.  I don’t have another replacement.

Lot’s of water down below.  Lot’s of things shifted.

I have the Pelagic steering us under bare poles.  Several waves have broken across the deck.  It is getting a severe test.  So far it is doing well.

I keep thinking we ought to be able to sail and then another wave washes over us.  I haven’t seen 30 knot apparent wind for a while.  I hope this ends soon.


I have just uploaded eight short videos of the passage from St. Lucia to Marathon, mostly showing beautiful sailing.
You may be relieved to know that that’s it.  There are no more, at least not until I return to GANNET late next month, so you have time to catch up.


I am catching up with the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC to which I have a digital subscription on my iPad mini.  
Last February’s issue carries an article about our at least 9,000 year history of drinking alcohol. 
When as a child I wondered about the meaning of homo sapiens and found it means ‘wise or knowing man’, I knew that to be a cosmic joke and have ever since called us Homo insipiens, foolish man, but the NG articles suggests an alternative.

“There’s good evidence from all over the world that alcoholic beverages are important to human culture,” McGovern says.  “Thirty years ago that fact wasn’t as recognized as it is now.”  Drinking is such an integral part of our humanity, according to McGovern, that he only half jokingly suggests our species be called Homo imbibens.