Blog #6 - Aug 9th
Riding the waves
Clear skies, tropical weather, turquoise blue water, dolphins and Mahi Mahis are all behind us now. We now have 550 NM to go. With that we entered a more northerly latitude and ride in front of a low pressure system towards to coast of Canada. Instead of stars at night, dark clouds are our companions. Strong winds push String Theory relentlessly forward. The stronger winds kicked up the sea to an average wave higth of six to eight feet sometimes approaching 10 feet.
During our best watch we averaged 10 kts of speed with master driver Ronald pushing the boat down a wave at 15.5 kts - currently the record on this voyage. Surfing down the waves is exhilarating. The stern lifts slightly in the approaching sea while the bow dips lower and lower and all of a sudden the helm becomes very light and the boat drives down the front of the wave accelerating more and more until the wave overtakes the boat and we drop into the trough behind the passing wave.
Inside the boat the ride feels much less comfortable. Like an untamed horse, String Theory bucks with every wave, rolling from one side only to jerk back to the other side the next second. Simple tasks like pouring a mug of hot chocolate become a delicate balancing act. The crew has to avoid being thrown from on end of the boat to the other with a pot of boiling hot water to follow them. Coming off watch we drop in our bunks immediately despite the constant rocking of the boat. Driving a boat at night in a following sea is tiring at the best of times.
By now we all have grown our sea legs and settled into our simple routine of: Sailing, eating and sleeping. It's quite remarkable to note how the novice crew developed their sailing skills over the last 10 days. The first few nights the boat was often ahead the person at the helm. Now everybody is fully in command and steers the boat like they have been doing this for years.
It looks like one more day of formidable sailing, before the high will push up from the south, squeezing out the southerly winds we currently enjoy. Until then, we keep riding the waves.
Aloha from String Theory.
Blog #5 - Aug 6th
Dolphins visiting us
Just I as I was reading about Family Affair sighting three whales I heard shouts from above deck: "Dolphins, dolphins". Up I run, donning a life vest on the way, camera ready and there they were: Darting through the waters like arrows chasing String Theory were dozens of Dolphins. They launched themselves into the air with ease then dove under the boat and headed for the bow wave jockeying for the best position. At times over twenty dolphins swam right in front of our bow, dancing a ballet, three, four five dolphins jumping in perfect unison, arching graciously through the air before splashing back into the indigo blue water.
Looking over the to the port side, John spotted dozens more dolphins, heading straight for us,some jumping three, four feet into the air. For a moment they seemed to be suspended above the glassy water, their silver bodies glittering in the dim sun light, before slicing back back into the water.
The spectacle lasted for maybe 15 to 20 minutes before we left them in our wake. Brad noticed that they swam in big circles, behind us, wondering whether we sailed through their feeding grounds where they chased their prey.
It was our off watch time, but I was too excited to go back to sleep. Never have I been surrounded by what may have been a hundred dolphins, jumping all around us, following alongside the boat and diving through our bow wave.
Instead of crawling back into to my bunk I baked some fresh bread, then read a few more pages in the latest Dan Brown novel before finally catching maybe half an our of sleep before getting up on deck again.
Aloha from String Theory.
Blog #4 - Aug 5th
Half Way - 1,162 miles from Maui
Yesterday marked an interesting point in our journey: We were 1,100 nautical miles, or more than 2,000 kilometers from any point of land. In fact the closest point of land was straight down, some 5,000 meters to the seabed. There are not many points on earth where one can be farther away from land. Point Nemo in the South Pacific, the point farthest from land on earth, is only a little bit more isolated than that.
The day started well with a comfortable temperatures and a moderate breeze. After a morning coffee and a hearty breakfast we hoisted the spinnaker and made good progress on our course to Vancouver. However, Neptun had different plans and after three hours we had to replac the colorful sail with the iron spinnaker and continued our journey under engine.
Later in the morning a big squall chasef down String Theory and we raised the sails in anticipation of some stronger wind. Slowly the black cloud mass moved over our boat and then it was like heaven opened its gates: A deluge of water, so heavy we could barely see a hundred meters drenched us all. Heavy rain drops splashed into the sea, turning its color from royal blue to grey. The water running off our mainsail would have filled all our tanks in minutes. Not wanting to waste it completely I took a shower, shampooed and washed my hair under the torrent of water running off of a fold in the sail. The water was lukewarm and it felt good standing in the cockpit, being hosed down by fresh water.
Later in the day the sky cleared up, the sun poked through and we dried our soaked cloths and shoes.
John and Marie prepared a gourmet dinner to celebrate half way point: Lamb roast, potatoes, vegetables, red wine and fresh baked brownies for desert. A heavenly meal. We all congregated in the cockpit, listened to the Eagles, watched the sun disappearing behind a curtain of clouds before splitting again into our respective watches.
As we settle in for the night, the engine is humming happily. Looking at the weather charts we start to think about our fuel reserve though. The next Esso station is about a thousand miles away and we simply wont get there without some help by mother nature. It appears that we are perhaps too far east and possibly a more northerly route early on would have kept us in stronger winds. The distance to be sailed would have been considerable more though, so who knows. For know we hope for the low pressure system northwest of us to squeeze the high south and east and giving us a much hoped push to fill String Theories sails once again.
Aloha from String Theory.
Christof is the owner and operator of Simply Sailing. An enthusiastic sailor he loves to share his knowledge with other sailors.
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