Friday, September 21, 2012

Chugging along

September 21, 2012
Underway position at 1330UTC: 18°04'S 157°34'W

It's 6AM local and I'm on watch for sunrise at the start of our third day at sea. Our cat 'Shell' just jumped on the navigation desk and looks as sleepy as I feel as she curls up to nap. No such luxury for me as I need to keep a lookout for hazards like whales, ships and debris. The wind has gone on us, our light air spinnaker now useless in the non-existent breeze. The latest weather GRIB show more of the same for next 24 hours as a 'trough' becomes the dominant feature for several hundred miles of ocean.

Major bummer as the trough is near stationary the next 24 hours, so we can either sit here becalmed or motor to clear of this patch of windless ocean. The progress will be costly in many respects beyond monetary. Firing up the engine is always a bummer, the persistent drone of the engine drowning out most other sounds like the rapture of a few visiting sea birds or the high pitch squeal of playful dolphins. For now we'll have to keep a sharp lookout for the teltail blow of whales and visually spot groups of feeding birds as the engine chugs along.

In terms of reliability what would you choose? The complication of a internal combustion engine relying on hundreds of individual moving parts or the silent and eloquent simplicity of two sails. Sure our engines are nearly new and super reliable, but a sail only requires needle and thread to run indefinitely. And what of fuel? By the time we clear this windless patch we'll be running low with the next possibility for fuel some 700nm distant at tiny island nation of Nuie. Back in the days of real sailors we'd simply be becalmed until the wind filled back in. Even after 7 years away from the 'Go, Go, Go Rat Race' of life ashore and the inherent cost of motoring, the prospect of drifting about aimlessly waiting for the wind still has less appeal than chugging along.

It'll be a good day for fishing.

That's it for now.

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