Saturday, April 9, 2016

Opua: farewell to Pine Tree Island; no next; bad math

        Rain today pattering and beating on the deck.  Beating now at noon. 
I didn’t go ashore yesterday and would like to today.  Perhaps it will ease later.
Yesterday was mostly overcast and completely calm.  I wiped down the area forward of the main bulk head with Exit Mold.  There wasn’t a lot of mold, but some on the overhead and the sides of the hull.  I did a few other minor boat chores.  And I rowed around Pine Tree Island.
The story, which I have told here before, is that early last century a local man planted seven pine trees on the island, one for each of his children.  He and the children are long gone, and for many years the roots of the pine trees are all that has held the island together.
Since I last rowed the half mile to Pine Tree, three big holes have developed in its base.  I think the island will soon spit in two.  Once divided, it will fall.  Water and time are inexorable.
Several boats that have been rotting on moorings, still are.  And the wreck of a former trading vessel on the shore is now a pile of rubble no longer recognizable as having once been a ship.
That side of the harbor, though not far away, is a different world, quieter than here by the marina where boats come and go frequently.
I had planned to walk up the Opua Hill today.  That is not going to happen.
I’d also like to sail and anchor off Roberton Island and off Russell again, but west and south winds are forecast for the coming week and both anchorages are exposed to those directions.


Another sailor who lives not far away and writes for CRUISING WORLD was asked to come up and get some photos of me and GANNET under sail.  He and his wife have made voyages of their own.  Some of you would recognize his name.
As they were leaving I said, “I’ll look forward to reading whatever you write next.”
Hurriedly he said, “Oh, I’m not writing anything about you, just sending the photographs.”
I said, “I didn’t mean about me, but about whatever you do next.”
A vague reply.
It was only after they had driven away and I was walking back to the dinghy dock that I realized I had just assumed that sailors always have a next voyage in mind and, though considerably younger than I, they don’t.
Someday I won’t either.


A reader sent me a link to an interview with a sailor about my age who is planning a non-stop Southern Ocean circumnavigation in a 10’/3 meter boat.  There has already been a lot of publicity about this which has yet to happen.
I have three observations.
The sailor is quoted as saying the voyage will be 30,000 miles long.  This is impossible in the Southern Ocean unless he bizarrely sails back and forth north and south like the teeth of a saw.
A degree of longitude is 60 nautical miles at the Equator and increasingly less as you move toward the poles.
60 times 360 is 21600 nautical miles, the circumference of the world at the Equator.
At 40° a degree of longitude is only 46.1 miles, times 360 equals 16596 nautical miles.
At 45° the numbers are 42.5 nautical miles and 15300.
At 50° 38.7 and 13932.
At 55° 34.5 and 12420.
To pass south of the mainland of Australia you have to go below 40°S.  To clear Tasmania 44°S.  New Zealand 48°.  And Cape Horn 56°.
The only way a Southern Ocean circumnavigation can come close to being 30,000 miles long is if you go around twice.
He also says it will take him 600 to 800 days.
This is excruciatingly slow.
The current in the Southern Ocean flows west to east.  Throw anything in the Southern Ocean and if it stays afloat it will eventually circumnavigate, probably I expect in 600 to 800 days.
If the man completes his circumnavigation it will be an achievement, but it won’t be sailing.  He will have been flotsam.
I have great affection for small boats, but only if they sail well.  CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE did and GANNET does.  Superlatively.
One last observation.
       He states he likes to read and plans to carry 100 kilos of books on his tiny egg.  For my fellow Americans that is 220 pounds.  Someone needs to give the man a Kindle.