Port Elizabeth to Antigua Feb.-March 2009 February 5 Indian Ocean: Thursday 0530 Left slip. 0745 Powered until a few minutes ago in order to clear the break off Cape Recife. Making 5 knots to the southwest under full sail on a beam reach. Wind southeast at 6 knots. Sun burning off clouds. Barometer 1026 and steady. I slept well for the night before a passage. Woke several times and thought I was awake for good at 0300, but got back to sleep until 0430. The boat was ready to go with a turn of the key in the engine. Regulations required me to call Port Control on the VHF, which I did at first light at 0515. The east wind I want makes the slip I was in a downwind slip, but conditions were perfect. In almost flat calm at near slack water, I was able to unravel the complicated dock lines I had out because of the strong winds on Tuesday and surge in the marina, and push the boat most of the way back out of the slip before stepping aboard and continuing in reverse. I had to back farther than normal in order to clear the bowsprit of a big steel ketch that was stern first in the slip beside me. Two fishing boats were coming in as I went out. Pleasure at the moment of passing the light on the end of the breakwater. Now just me and the sea. The reef that gives Cape Recife its name extends a long way offshore. There are two breaks, one in close, and a second almost a half mile farther out. I was thinking about Diaz sailing here more than five hundred years ago in a ship that was seaworthy, but didn’t go to windward well, and with no charts. The bearing to Cape Agulhas is 260º. (All bearings in my log are True not Magnetic.) However I will continue on 230º for several hours to get offshore and out to what is left of the Agulhas Current. The two hundred meter curve is much farther offshore here than it was off Durban. 1210 Noon position: 34º 19’ South; 25º 12‘ East. Cape Agulhas 257 miles, bearing 263º. Sunny. Clouds clearing. SOG 7.4 knots under jib alone. Instruments say the wind is 20 knots true and just aft of the beam. I lowered the main an hour ago. One of the great things about a boat with an easily driven hull is that you can reduce sail and maintain speed. I’ve seen several ships. One inside of us heading to Port Elizabeth and several far outside out us. Also gannets and two whale spouts. None of our speed is from current. We are still inside the 200 meter curve and the water temperature is still too cool to be the Agulhas current. Doesn’t matter. At this rate we’ll pass Cape Agulhas on Saturday anyway. A much easier offing than Durban. 1715 Beautiful sailing this afternoon. My quixotic wind instrument tells me that the wind is 20 knots true, which is consistent with my own observations. Lots of white caps. THE HAWKE OF TUONELA slicing down 3’ to 6’ waves. Mostly blue sky, with scattered low white clouds and a bank of white cloud out to sea to the south. I may be beyond the west bound shipping. Early this afternoon I saw three ships following one another about a mile apart pass well inside of me. And now there are two more in sight, both to my north. Haven’t seen any east bound ships. I’m now about 25 miles offshore and moving further off, averaging about 250º, while the coast is trending almost due west. Sat on deck and listened to music for a while. Wind strong and cool enough so I changed into Levis and an old Polartec fleece. Discovered that one of my Sportaseats has died. We had three aboard. One as a spare. Water had gotten into the metal interior support and rusted it out. When I tried to adjust the back, it broke. No more spare. Slightly more than half moon visible. Dinner of freeze dry lamb, peas, corn and mashed potatoes is ready. 2100 A setting sun, a gibbous moon, a ship, and an albatross. If I don’t get run down by a ship tonight, this has been a perfect day. I thought that for ships time and distance are money. It costs thousands of dollars an hour to operate a ship. So why as I keep going father beyond the shortest distance between two points, do I keep seeing ships? With GPS these people have got to know where they are and that they are swinging wider than they need to. I haven’t seen an albatross for a long time. This one was not one of the biggest species, but still the length of wing is impressive. No ships in sight now. The wind has decreased slightly since sunset. Still around 18 knots true. We are 42 miles offshore. On the two hundred meter curve. We might be seeing .5 knot current, with an SOG of 8.3 knots at the moment. Cape Agulhas is less than two hundred miles ahead. February 6 Indian Ocean: Friday 0600 Got up at 0430. Still dark. Saw the lights of two ships to the north. One heading east; one west. I’m 60 miles offshore. When I left Port Elizabeth I should have thought: now just me and the sea and a lot of ships. I am already twenty or so miles further south than Cape Agulhas, and at 35º 12’ South on almost the same latitude as my mooring in Opua, which is 35º 18‘ and 7412 miles east of us. I have a permanent waypoint for it and for the condo in Evanston, which is 7655 miles to the north northwest. More to the point, Cape Agulhas is 140 miles ahead. We, however, are heading 245º. During the night the jib collapsed and refilled a few times as we slid down 6‘ waves. Generally we were heading more to the southwest than I wanted, so I jibed. This resulted in our heading too far to the northwest, so I jibed back and put a couple of wraps in the jib, which has slowed us to around 6 knots and lets the Monitor maintain better control. Dawn brought an albatross and that we had no wind information. I have learned that when the wind unit broadcasts its signal, it automatically shuts down if it doesn’t get a response from a display. Thinking this might have happened during the night, I shut down the system. On restart I have wind information. Still 20 knots true. Sun just starting to shine in through the companionway, blinding me. Sky clear. Barometer down two millibars, but still high. 1220 Clouded over this morning and a little rain. Sunny again, but wind around 25 knots. I’ve reduced the jib three times. Wind has backed slightly, and we’ve moved back inside the two hundred meter curve, although we are sixty-two miles offshore. Not far ahead, the two hundred meter curve is more than 120 miles offshore. Our SOG is between 6.5 and 8.0 knots, some of which might be the last vestige of the Agulhas Current which dissipates over the Agulhas Bank. Waves are only 5’, but two have come aboard. Closed top half of companionway while using computer, just in case. Many birds soaring about. Three albatrosses. Some shearwaters. Haven’t seen any ships since dawn. Noon position: 35º 22’ South; 22º 09’ East. Day’s run: 163 miles. Cape Agulhas 109 miles, bearing 286º. Cape of Good Hope 190 miles, bearing 288º. 1600 Although all of South Africa is GMT +2, I just realized that we have sailed into the GMT +1 time zone by longitude and so have changed ship’s time. The sky has clouded over again, but the wind is down to 20 knots and the seas smoother. As would be expected they were roughest as we moved across the 200 meter curve. I was surprised that water came over the cabin sole as we rolled off some of the steepest waves because I hadn’t thought we had taken enough water over the deck for much to get into the bilge. It hadn’t. There was less than two buckets full in the bilge; but when you roll that is enough. The thermometer says that it is 74º, but the wind is cool and I have changed into Levis and Polartec. A long-sleeved shirt would do, but I don’t have one out. Baring a dramatic wind shift, we will pass 40 or 50 miles south of Cape Agulhas around 0300 tomorrow. February 7 South Atlantic Ocean: Saturday 0530 Counting Cape Agulhas as the dividing point between oceans, we are now in the South Atlantic. I was awake when we were 40 miles due south of Cape Agulhas at 0300 as predicted. We are still sailing west and will continue to do so for several more hours, unless the wind shifts, in order to stay well clear of the Cape of Good Hope when we jibe. The barometer is 1016, nine millibars lower than at its highest two days ago. Wind has backed slightly to the southeast. Low layer of coastal cloud. I woke at 2300 last night because everything was too quiet. We were sailing level. The wind had decreased and so had our speed to 5 knots. I went on deck and unfurled the jib until our speed was back above 6. The wind has increased again. To exactly what strength I do not know. My trick of restarting the instrument system did not result in wind information today. This makes me think the problem may be a bad battery or solar charging system in the unit. Waves are only 3’, but a few are slapping at us. We are nearing the west edge of the Agulhas Bank. I put a waypoint into the chartplotter for Road Town, the main town and port of entry in the British Virgin Islands. It is 18º 24.76’ North, 64º 36.24‘ West. This is 54º of latitude and 84½º of longitude from our present position. I hadn’t realized the difference in longitude is so great. Almost a quarter of the globe, but then 6,000 nautical miles is more than a quarter of the circumference of the Earth. An hour ago the distance to Road Town was 5800 miles. I’m not sure if that is a sailable line, or if it passes over land. Nevertheless I’ll record it in the noon position. Didn’t see any ships last night, but did see a loom of light to the southeast. Might have been a fishing boat. Dozens of birds hunting around THE HAWKE OF TUONELA last sunset. One albatross crisscrossing the patch of sky I can see through the companionway this morning. 1205 A nosey fishing trawler caused me to jibe to starboard at 0930. I had planned to continue west until noon. This was the second time he passed me within a few hundred yards. Perhaps he wondered why I hadn’t made the turn for Cape Town and was just checking to see if I was all right. I didn’t want to be checked upon. Flocks of birds followed him and I saw the heads of at least a dozen seals sticking up. A ship heading east was also passing at the time. Overcast continues. Wind was gusting 30, but has dropped back to 20 to 25. Wind instrument began working when I jibed. It is a mystery. Waves are 6’ and steep, slewing us around from time to time. I have again reduced the size of the jib. On this side of the continent the cold Benguela Current will be with us for a while. Shaved this morning, and for lunch ate the last of the bread rolls, hummus and cheese I bought in Port Elizabeth. Noon position: 35º 24’ South; 18º51‘ East. Day’s run 161 miles. Cape of Good Hope 63 miles, bearing 343º. Saint Helena 1758 miles, bearing 312º. Road Town 5750 miles, bearing 304º. We are presently heading 305º and making 7.3 knots. I put a waypoint in for Saint Helena. Although I don’t plan to stop, I might, and I may sail close. For a while I will sail high of the rhumb line for the BVI to try to avoid the fringes of the South Atlantic High, which was out of position when Carol and I sailed from Brazil to Cape Town in 2002 and gave us a slow passage. Pleased to have made the turn. 1820 Near gale force whistling wind. 30+ knots in gusts, steady 25-28. Remained gray and cloudy all day. Sun tried to burn though, but didn’t. I recall on the 7 day wind forecast that this was likely to be near Cape Peninsula today. Thus far the forecast has been completely accurate. We’ve averaged 7.5 knots since noon, but on course 306º. I’d rather be 10 degrees higher, but too many waves come aboard on that course. One just caught us as I was typing. I’ve reduced the jib down to less than storm jib size. Speed sometimes dropping to less than 7 knots; sometimes still almost 8. Haven’t seen any ships since I jibed away from the trawler this morning. Lots of albatrosses. February 8 South Atlantic Ocean: Sunday 0640 Because land heats and cools faster than water, weather often changes near land at dawn and sunset. At sunset last night the wind abruptly dropped from 30 knots to 5, followed by flashes of lightning around the horizon, but none close enough for me to hear thunder, then brief light rain. The wind continued light and inconsistent all night. I was on deck many times, letting out more jib and trying to keep the boat somewhere near a course to the northwest. Around midnight the sky cleared, and the almost full moon and stars became visible. Dawn was lovely, with clear light blue sky, except for a cloud/fog bank to the west, and with a light breeze from the north. I set the main and full jib, tacked from starboard to port, and we were sailing gracefully at 6 knots across a sea touched by cats-paws. Briefly. Then the cloud/fog bank reached us with a sudden increase of wind to 25 knots, which with full sail up close-hauled overwhelmed the self-steering vane. I regained control by partially, then completely furling the jib. We are now making 6 knots close reaching on course 320º under main alone, although as I’ve been writing this the sky through the companionway is clearing again, the wind dropping, and our boat speed down to 5.7. The easy solution to this is to set some jib, which I will do after a few more sips of coffee. I’m 60 miles almost due west of Cape Town. Didn’t see any ships last night. 1205 Wind light and variable all morning, mostly from west. Sky almost completely clear. Barometer 1008 and rising. At noon making 5.0 knots close-hauled port, course 330º, wind 7 knots. Noon position: 33º 50’ South; 16º 46‘ East. Day’s run: 140 miles. Saint Helena 1619. Road Town 5617. We’re 82 miles west of Cape Town. 1500 I’m reading a history of the Royal Navy and just came upon the information that in the late 18th Century French ships of the line were superior to the British and could point to within 70º of the wind, while the British could only point to 80º. This means tacking in 140º and 160º respectively, which means going to windward was a long, slow inefficient process. If there are any non-sailors reading this, a modern sailboat points to within 40º to 45º, and going to windward is still slow enough. Since noon we have been sailing between a line of clouds that has formed over the land almost a hundred miles to the east of us, and another line of cloud over the ocean to the west. I did some exercises–all except push-ups, for which we are heeled too far; and took a solar shower. I seldom do that going to windward, but the wind was light and the motion smooth. A little cool, but I feel better clean. There are at least two more showers in that bag, which has been living in the aft part of the cockpit and has not been too much in my way, and probably at least three in the other bag, which is on the starboard quarter berth. After my shower, I changed into clean clothes, and then sat on deck, listening to music and drinking a beer. I have enough cans of drinks aboard to have two a day for more than seven weeks, mostly iced tea and beer, but some soft drinks and tonic. The last is meant for gin or rum and tonics, but may outlast the gin and rum. Lovely sailing, close-hauled on port, making six knots over sparkling seas. While I was out there the clouds from the west reached us, but with no increase in wind. In fact the wind backed fifteen degrees and I eased sheets to a close reach, increasing our speed to 6.8. 1910 Sun has set. Moon has risen, but hidden behind clouds to the east at the moment. Wind backed to the southwest this afternoon, enabling us to sail smoothly on a beam reach to the northwest. Has dropped from around ten knots to seven and boat speed down to 5.1. I was just on deck looking around. May go back for an evening drink. February 9 South Atlantic Ocean: Monday 0540 Wind weakened last night. Just before midnight I put a preventer on the boom to keep it from flopping. It was already vanged. We continued making a knot or two in more or less the right direction for the rest of the night, though I don’t know how. The sails seldom seemed to fill. In the last few minutes the wind has increased slightly and our boat speed is 2.8. There is are some undulations in the water and cats-paws. A few clouds around. The sun is just rising above clouds to the east. We are one hundred miles off Saldanha Bay. The sails and self-steering vane are set for a beam reach. I might try to set the twice repaired still new cruising spinnaker that thus far has only eight hours on it. Even if it doesn’t do any good, it would be an easy time to set it flying and then get it furled. It came back from the sailmaker unfurled. ———- I did go back on deck last night with a glass, actually plastic, of Jamesons. I didn’t find Laphroaig in South Africa. It was beautiful on deck. The sun had already set, but a golden twilight lasted a long time. An evening star, presumably Venus to the west; and the full moon eventually rising above the clouds to the east. Orion directly over the masthead. The Southern Cross to the south. THE HAWKE OF TUONELA heeled slightly, sailing smoothly at 5 to 6 knots. Erik Satie’s ‘Gnossiennes’ and ‘Gymnopedies’ followed by the three versions of Carrighfergus on the cockpit speakers. I stayed out an hour. Moments to savor. 0715 Cruising spinnaker set before my second cup of coffee. Boat speed up to 4.7. I found myself thinking: can setting the spinnaker with the gennaker furling gear really be as easy as I remember? And it is. I had to move the sheet lead aft because the main is up. So I simply furled the spinnaker with the furling gear and with no load on the sheet, moved the block aft, then released the furling line and pulled on the sheet. Wonderful. The sailmaker in Durban to whom I gave the sail for repairs told me the seams had not been stitched, only glued. The sailmaker in the U.S. who made the sail confirmed this and said he had been glueing seams for years without problems. Didn’t work this time, We’ll see how long the now stitched seams last, but the sail may not be up long. A mackerel sky to the east. I looked at the February pilot chart data in Visual Passage Planner. From here on the wind is almost entirely behind us until the Northeast trades which should be on the beam. 0945 Sunny. Clouds to east burning off. Just lowered mainsail. I was curious to see if there would be any reduction in boat speed. I didn’t expect any, and there wasn’t. Making 5 knots under spinnaker alone with 7 knots of wind from just aft of the beam. Have cabin open. Very pleasant morning. Scrubbed some mold that I hadn’t noticed before from overhead. Barometer 1015 and rising. For years I have kept my main electronic barometer on the bulkhead at the aft end of the starboard side of the main cabin, but water from the companionway sometimes drips there and I have had to replace them every couple of years. I’ve repositioned the new one I brought back with me to under the starboard bookshelf, farther from the companionway. 1240 A very nice day, but not very productive. Sunny. Temperature in mid-70ºs. The wind has backed to the south and is only five knots. Our SOG is around three knots. Sometimes less. We are heeled two or three degrees to starboard. I took advantage of the smooth motion to reorganize the food I store in the oven: cheese; candy; some crackers; a fruit cake; the last few packages of Bali peanuts; two packages of beef droewars–thin dried beef sausages. I also inventoried paper towels: I have 21 rolls, which ought to be enough; canned fish: 26 lunches; cheese: 24 lunches. Also have 24 of the French canned meals that can be either lunch or dinner. And about 20 cups of noodles. Not to count five months of freeze dry dinners. And ample oatmeal, trail mix, dried fruit, and powered milk for breakfast. Don’t think I will go hungry. Went on deck with my camera. Didn’t get anything particularly good. I have not found my waterproof Pentax, which I left on the boat in Durban. I did pay a service to watch the boat and check the bilge while I was gone, so people were aboard. It is possible that the camera was stolen. It is also possible that I put it somewhere safe that I can’t remember. I have checked all the normal places I kept it several times. Maybe it will still turn up. Noon position: 32º 32’ South; 15º 19‘ East. Day’s run: 107. Saint Helena 1514, bearing 311º. Road Town: 5518, bearing 304º. Adding the day’s run together, we have sailed just over 1000 miles since Durban. 1830 The wind has increased to 12 knots and we are making 6 to 7. Perhaps 1’ waves. Beautiful sailing. Barometer up another millibar to 1017. The new spinnaker has now been set for eleven hours, which is three more than it lasted all last year. This has reduced its cost per hour from $250 to just over $100. Not sure if I’m going to leave it up all night. So far the Monitor has it well under control, and there will be a full moon. Depends on if the wind increases more. Spent an hour on deck this afternoon, then came below to get out of the sun. Will go back now that it is about to set and listen to music and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA slipping through the ocean, while waiting for the moon to rise. February 10 South Atlantic Ocean: Tuesday 0605 Waves this morning. Only 2’, but they move us around and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA is no longer rock steady. Wind 14-16 knots. Barometer up another millibar. Sun just rising, coloring scattered clouds and filling the cabin with yellow light. My timing was perfect when I took a cup of tea on deck last evening. I watched the sun set a few minutes before 1900 and the moon rise a few minutes after. I stayed up there for a while, then came below and went to bed around 2030. By 2200 the wind had increased to 12 knots and our boat speed was topping 7. The Monitor still had the boat under control and If it had been day, I would have left the spinnaker up a bit longer; but I couldn’t get back to sleep in anticipation of a further increase and so got up and went on deck and changed from spinnaker to genoa. The process went smoothly. Our boat speed dropped from 7 knots to 4.5 for a few seconds between when I had the spinnaker furled and before I unfurled the genoa, then back to 6 to 6.5. While we continued under genoa and full moon, I lowered the furled spinnaker to deck, sorted out its sheets for the next set, bagged it–remarkably smaller furled than unfurled, and brought it below. Maybe someday the furling gear will fail me in a big way, but thus far it has been flawless and is transforming the way I sail. If I were ambitious I might set the spinnaker again this morning and see how the boat goes with it in this wind, but I probably won’t. There isn’t much to be gained in boat speed. We are already making 6.5 to 7+. Yesterday was the first time the spinnaker was set long enough for me to get a good opportunity to see it. It is s a big sail, 900 sq. ft. I think a full size racing spinnaker on this boat is around 1100. It looks good and was the perfect sail for yesterday’s conditions, which are what I bought it for. I’ll be happy if it holds together. 1215 Did some housework this morning. Swept the cabin sole with a hand broom; removed some mold from the two mushroom vents in the galley with Exit Mold and an old toothbrush. I also cut the damaged part, only three feet, from the old spinnaker halyard where it ran through the old exit box from the mast. Installing a new Harken exit box with sheaves that will protect the halyard was the last task the rigger completed in Durban. Unfortunately halyards get chaffed in the middle, which leaves me with two long awkward lengths of high-tech, extreme low stretch, expensive line. I am presently using the smaller of the two remaining pieces as a third jib sheet, run to a block on the edge of the deck rather than to the normal lead on the genoa track. On a reach this is almost two feet further out and opens up the leech of the sail, which makes a noticeable difference in how the sail sets. Just had lunch of cheese and crackers and an apple. I bought a bag of apples in Durban and want to finish them before they go bad. Would rather have fresh fruit late in the passage rather than the beginning, but don’t think these apples will be good in March. Mostly sunny. Some clouds, high and low. Wind 18-20 knots. 4’ waves. SOG around 7. Barometer 1021. Temperature: 74ºF/23.5ºC. Noon position: 30º 57’ South; 13º 20‘ East. Day’s run: 139. Saint Helena 1376, bearing 311º. Road Town 5386, bearing 303º. 1845 Not going to be watching the sunset from the deck this evening. Wind 25 knots. Seas 6’-7’ on average, but every once in a while a larger set with steep faces comes along. A couple of these have come aboard. One partially filled the cockpit. Going to close the companionway before I go to sleep tonight. Another sailor questioned my having speakers in the cockpit, saying he didn’t want to have holes there. The holes for my speakers are almost two feet above the cockpit sole and water has never come in through them. I did sit on deck for an hour this afternoon without getting wet, but don’t want to try my luck again. Furled the jib further. Did some exercises. Quite a difference from last evening, when we were going two knots slower with five or six times more sail set. February 11 South Atlantic Ocean: Wednesday 0530 I don’t know that I was awake every hour all night, but almost. I was awake at 0300 when the wind had decreased and the waves flattened. A few drops of rain were falling. And I was awake at 0400 when the alarm went off. It wasn’t supposed to. I must have shifted the set lever when I put the alarm clock back after it fell from a shelf. The 0400 was left from the last night into Port Elizabeth. I have since changed the alarm to 0900 in case it accidentally goes off again. By 0400 the wind was back in the 20 to 25 knot range and the seas 6’, conditions that continue now. The wind has backed slightly and our course is averaging a few degrees lower than I want, but not yet enough to jibe. Sky mostly cloudy. Clouds always look darker and more ominous before the sun actually rises. A gibbous waning moon to the west. So far I wouldn’t call this a storm, just some strong wind, and while the motion is a bit bumpy and we are taking a few waves, it is getting it done. The barometer has remained steady at 1021. We left the 30ºs last night and are presently at latitude 29º 42’ South. I left Evanston a month today. Carol is going through a major career change, unanticipated when I began this voyage last year. I won’t know how it has turned out, or even if we still live in Evanston, until I reach land. And possibly not even then. I regret that I can’t be there to help her. A wave just punctuated that thought by slamming into the beam and rain by blowing in through the half open companionway. 1215 Waves hissing and rumbling up behind us, although the sky has cleared from the east and they are now blue instead of gray. Wind 22-27 knots. Direction is everything. It would be neither pleasant not productive to be trying to go the other way. As it is, a six knot run until noon tomorrow will give us a thousand mile first week. At the moment we’re doing 7.2. Finished reading TO RULE THE WAVES: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World by Arthur Herman this morning. Readable history, including references to a flamboyant man, Sidney Smith, of whom I had not known. He was the first to defeat Napoleon. I’ll have to see if there are any biographies of him when I’m next ashore. Don’t think I’m going to be able to spend time on deck this afternoon. No waves have come aboard for a while, but seem immanent. Noon position: 29º 21’ South; 10º 54‘ East. Three hundred miles off the mouth of the Orange River, which is the boundary between South Africa and Namibia. Day’s run 159 (probably less than we actually sailed because of a curving track due to the wind backing. I simply take distance from previous noon’s waypoint as day’s run.) Saint Helena 1216, bearing 311º. Road Town 5230, bearing 303º. February 12 South Atlantic Ocean: Thursday 0550 I didn’t do anything to sail the boat yesterday. Didn’t touch the jib sheet or the Monitor control lines once. Did chase a bucket and a half of water around the bilge. Caught a bucket full. Stood on the companionway ladder last night, watching the moon rise and illuminate a dappled sky over an ocean of shadows and reflections. An Albert Ryder sky, who I think spent most of his life in a cluttered apartment in Greenwich Village and only crossed an ocean once as a guest of a sea captain he knew, and whose paintings are considered romantic, but I consider realistic, just as the Impressionists really are. The wind backed late yesterday, so we are again able to sail the desired course, which is around 315º. When I woke at 0200 I could feel that it had diminished, so got dressed and went on deck where I let out more jib. As soon as I was back in bed, the boat spun far enough off course to collapse the jib twice, so back on deck to return things to where they were. This morning the seas are definitely down a foot or two and there are fewer white caps. THE HAWKE OF TUONELA still slides down some of the bigger waves at 9 knots. The highest reading I saw yesterday was a momentary 11.6. The sky is clearer this morning than yesterday. The barometer is down to 1016, which I don’t think means anything. I probably will increase sail sometime today. Also hopefully get to spend some time on deck. We are on track for a thousand mile week. My back is bothering me. Not from an injury, but sleeping, which is odd because conditions have not been particularly difficult. Cup of coffee on cabin sole beside me. Sibelius‘ Third Symphony on cabin speakers. 0620 Between cups of coffee I went on deck. Standing with my hands on the dodger support, I sensed a wave looming up behind me. Not huge, but 10‘ where most now are half that. I thought: Oh, Hell!, and prepared to get wet. But THE HAWKE OF TUONELA’s stern rose and it passed harmlessly beneath us rather than over. A small flying fish in the cockpit. The first of this passage. 1205 Noon position: 27º 39‘ South; 8º 45‘ East. Day’s run: 152. Week: 1021. Saint Helena 1064, bearing 311º. Road Town: 5083, bearing 303º. Sunny. A few scattered white clouds and haze. Wind instrument started working again an hour ago, after being out since last night. Always a mystery. Wind still 20 knots, but definitely less than past two days. Barometer 1015. The week’s run is the addition of noon to noon runs since last Thursday, and doesn’t include the 32 miles we covered before noon on the day we left Port Elizabeth. We are in fact only 934 miles from Port Elizabeth, but that direct line crosses land. We made a signifiant dog leg to clear the capes before turning northwest. The way from here on is clear of land, except for small islands we may have to detour around in the Caribbean. I shaved this morning and have the solar shower bag in the sun. It may be too cool to shower. We’ll see in a couple of hours. Sometime tonight we should cross into the next time zone, which is GMT, and reduce the distance to Road Town to less than 5,000 miles. 1530 I had a fresh water shower with a salt water rinse. That isn’t how I planned it. By an hour ago the sun had heated the solar shower bag to an acceptable temperature and I hunkered down in the cockpit and took a quick shower. Afterwards I went on deck with a beer and the last of the Balinese peanuts to listen to music. The wind is still blowing at 20 to 22 knots, and as we sliced along, two waves came aboard. Not direct hits, but enough to give me a salt water rinse. Twice. Braved the deck until I finished the beer. There is enough water left in the first shower bag for at least one more shower. As we get into the tropics and the water warms, I may reverse today’s order and bath in buckets of salt water and use the shower bags for a fresh water rinse. ———- I’ve been thinking about the Agulhas Current. Years ago I wrote an article, “The Better Way Around Africa,” which gave my opinion that going via South Africa is better than up the Red Sea. This was before the present Golden Age of Piracy. Much is made of the Agulhas Current and the freak waves and troughs that can occur there during southwest gales. I don’t doubt the reports of such freak conditions, but I have been in a full gale, actually several, in the Gulf Stream, which is the Agulhas Current’s northern counterpart, and while wind against current obviously makes for worse conditions, I think that the fears based on them are disproportionate. Freak conditions by definition are rare and rarely encountered. While it is may be difficult to find a stretch of weather along the South African coast to sail non-stop from Durban to Cape Town, it is not difficult to find three successive days of east wind, which is enough to move from Durban to Port Elizabeth, and then wait as I did for another good three days to go the rest of the way. I did basically the same thing in 1987 in RESURGAM, with the addition of a voluntary stop a hundred miles west of Port Elizabeth at Knysna. The South African coast is a serious coast, but then going to sea in a small boat is always a serious undertaking, and while the South Africa coast should be respected, it should not be feared as much as it is. February 13 South Atlantic Ocean: Friday 0515 New time zone: GMT. Pleased to be at GMT. Will reach 0º longitude in three or four days. May reach tropics first. Less than 3º latitude to Tropic of Capricorn. Dark last night between setting sun and rising moon, which may have been hidden for a while behind clouds to the east. Random stars visible between clouds. I went and stood in the cockpit, feet spread, bracing myself by leaning back against the mainsheet traveler, and listened to women’s voices; Sarah Brightman, Loreena McKennitt, Carla Bruni. Slept pretty well last night. Up several times. Again I thought we had slowed. The wind is down to 18 knots and the seas 4’. But I was surprised that we were still making 6 and 7 knots under this small amount of jib. We still are moving toward what would have been a 150 mile day in 24 hours, but will be more with the change of time zone and a 25 hour day. Usually we lose wind information at night, but didn’t last night. No idea why. Maybe the masthead unit likes going northwest more than west as we did last year. Low clouds this dawn. Barometer 1015. I’m in the peculiar situation of being wary of the barometer going too high rather than too low. I’m not really concerned about storms, although this ocean did have its first recorded tropical storm off the coast of Brazil a few years ago, but I don’t want to get too close to the mid-ocean high which would slow us. I don’t think that is likely either. Finished my orange juice. Time to make coffee. 1150 With the time change, I ate lunch early. Tuna and crackers today. Cheese and crackers tomorrow. Tuna the day after. etc. While eating, I read the ingredients on the foil pouch and found sugar listed fourth. Ridiculous. The sun is only now burning through a low layer of cloud, which still remains mostly intact. At 1000 I finally increased the size of the jib. Now mostly out. For the past few days it has been mostly furled. Still making 6 to 7 knots. Did some exercises. Threw the last of my apples overboard. They looked o.k. on the outside, but were rotten inside. Only things fresh still aboard are lemons, which pressure me to drink gin or rum and tonic. Haven’t felt like it, but expect I will give in tonight. Just stopped to set noon position waypoint, which is 25º 53’ South, 6º 34‘ East. Day’s run 159 (25 hours). Saint Helena 906, bearing 311º. Road Town 4930, bearing 311º. 1900 Things are now as they were. The jib is furled as it was yesterday, The wind is again above 20 knots. And we are continuing on at 6 to 7 knots. I went on deck for a while this afternoon, but the wind increased and I had to reduce the jib. The sun never completely burned off the low layer of cumulus cloud, and it wasn’t very pleasant on deck, so I came back below. This is quite odd. We’re making steady progress. The motion is reasonable. Yet somehow it lacks something. Dark now. The sun has set and the moon will not rise for a few hours. SOG 7.8 knots. Rocking slightly. Almost sailing level. Just swooped down a wave at 9.9 knots. February 14 South Atlantic Ocean: Saturday 0430 Got up fifteen minutes ago because my back is bothering me. Can’t find a comfortable position to sleep. Makes for a long day, with coffee at 0430 instead of 0630 or 0700. At 0120 this morning a wave caught THE HAWKE OF TUONELA and tossed her onto her side. Not a complete knockdown. The wind instrument is still at the masthead and even transmitted through the night. But far enough. I was asleep when it started, but not when it ended. The entire event only took a few seconds. Water poured into the cockpit. Some came through the companionway, which fortunately I had closed completely at midnight. I left the top insert out when I first went to sleep. Some hit the top of my pillow, but missed my head. Also missing my head was the plastic case containing the flare gun and flares, kept readily accessible on a shelf just aft of the chart table since the pirate incident last year off Java. It travelled twelve feet diagonally forward from the port side of the cabin to end up on the starboard upper berth in the main cabin. Also all the books on that shelf, mostly oversize cruising guides fell over the rail holding them onto the port quarter berth below. The door to the hanging locker is slatted and water got into it. Most things in there are plastic bagged, but my laundry bag got wet. Hopefully I can dry it sometime and not have to have dirty clothes festering for a month in the tropics. Also doused the Levis I wear in the morning and evening, and which I am wearing now, which were in that lacker. Water came into the galley from the cowl vents overhead there, so obviously water was over the deck to at least forward of the mast. Conditions were not rough last night. Wind around 20 knots and most waves 4’ or 5’. I don’t know if we were hit by one of these or something bigger. Any wave that hits you at just the right–or wrong–instant can throw you around. No damage from this one. The wind has backed, but not enough. We are sailing more between 290º and 299º than the desired 310º to 320º. If it goes twenty more degrees I’ll jibe. Maybe sooner. 0605 Sooner. I have jibed to starboard broad reach. Can’t get the third sheet on the sail yet. To do so I have to let out more of the sail, then sheet it flat so I can reach the clew and tie the sheet on. I was able to do this to remove the third sheet before jibing, but can’t get it back on yet. When I tried, the boat took off at 9 knots and started to round up, so I eased off. We’re sailing too high now rather than too low, which is all right for a while. Depends of whether the wind continues to back. While in the cockpit I noticed that the solar shower bag is gone. One less fresh water shower. Must have been a pretty good wave to lift the shower bag two feet up out of the cockpit and past the solar panel above it. The two moveable solar panels are tied in place at each corner. 0700 Jibed back to port. Same layer of low cumulus as yesterday, but more sunlight shining through. Barometer steady at 1016. 0910 Jibed to starboard an hour ago. Awkward motion. The wind has moved, but the waves haven’t. Have to brace constantly against rolling to windward. Sun has burned off half the clouds. Having moved to the port settee, I noticed the can of RAID ‘Super Fast Acting Crawling Insect Killer’ secured with the books. The last cockroach I saw was sitting blatantly on this berth an hour before I left Durban. I think it had just come aboard. I spayed it with the RAID, which indeed acted fast. The insect crawled two inches and died. I don’t think I need to keep the spay out any longer. Finished reading THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN, an excellent Swedish crime novel that I read many years ago written by a husband and wife, Mai Sjowall and Per Wahloo. I think I have a movie version aboard as well. Started a novel, THE SPANISH BOW, by Andromeda Romano-Lux. The bow of the title is for a cello, not shooting arrows. Hard to type with one foot braced on the cabin sole and having to grab a handrail from time to time as well. Tired. 1205 Jibed back to port at 1030. Sky mostly clear then, but low clouds have moved in from east and sky mostly overcast now. A few drops of rain a half hour ago. We were headed for a 150+ mile day, but lost miles to the jibes this morning and because I am under canvassed in an effort to reduce the jib collapsing. Wind lighter than it was, so may unfurl more jib. Wind instrument stopped transmitting this morning. Noon position: 24º 26’ South; 4º 21‘ East. From this I expect that even though we are sailing low of the desired course at 290º to 299º, we will reach the Tropic of Capricorn, which is exactly one degree of latitude, or sixty nautical miles, north, before we reach the Greenwich Meridian. Day’s run: 148 miles. Saint Helena 758 miles, bearing 312º. Road Town 4784 miles, bearing 303º. 1500 Sailing into a silver sea. Just been on deck. Sky clearing from the south. In that direction the sea is blue and white-capped. Forward there is a layer of low clouds and the sea is silver, multi-faceted, with waves from three angles. Wind has backed to about where it was. Not quite. But we are sailing more above 300º than below. Also wind unit is again transmitting. It says the wind is 25 knots true. Probably about right. I wouldn’t mind a little less. Sun felt good when it shown on me directly. Temperature 74ºF, which with the wind often feels cool. Probably in a few more days I’ll wish it were. Found two buckles on the mainsail cover undone. Wind alone has never done that, so I conclude last night’s wave did. 1720 Sky has almost completely cleared. Only a few widely scattered small white clouds scattered around horizon. Wind still 20+ knots but perhaps diminishing. SOG 6.1. COG 298º. My back doesn’t bother me at all during the day, only while trying to sleep. Odd, because usually lying down eases my back pain. Time for dinner. I reach in the port locker at the aft end of the v-berth and blindly pick a foil pouch. February 15 South Atlantic Ocean: Sunday 0615 Two pieces broke off the rising moon last night just as I was about to go to sleep at 2130. As the moon moved higher, they resolved into the running lights of a ship. I stayed awake until 1030 when it passed a few miles east of us heading north. My back didn’t bother me much last night, perhaps because we mostly moved smoothly and on an even keel. I expected to get up this morning and add sail or jibe, or both. But we are making 6+ knots in the 290º to 299º range. I may have added a little sail when I tied in the third jib sheet and ran it to a block on the deck edge track. This really does make a remarkable difference in how the jib sets on a very broad reach. If I used the longer piece of the old halyard I probably could jibe with it in place. Maybe next time. Sky overcast again this morning. Barometer 1015. Seas 3’ to 4’. Wind unit not transmitting. The pouch I pulled from the heap at the back of the shelf last night was roast chicken with peas, corn and mashed potatoes. Same combination as their roast lamb, and also one of my favorites. 0930 Shaved, had a cat bath, pumped a bucket of water from the bilge and a half bucket from the engine compartment. With the boat steady, easier this time than last. Not too much of our big wave found itself below deck after all. Also I have sealed the anchor chain deck fitting better than I usually do with two layers of duck tape, one inside the lid and one outside. However we haven’t been taking heavy water over deck so I’m not certain that has made a difference. I don’t seem to have any skin lotion on board. I recall that the old container of Lubriderm had gone bad and we threw it out in Bali. I thought I bought a replacement there, but can’t find it. Also still haven’t found my Pentax camera. Do have the owner’s manual and the battery charger. It is beginning to look more likely that it was stolen in Durban. It was by no means the most valuable thing I left on board, but may have been the most obviously tempting to anyone who went through the chart table drawer. Our boat speed is only 5.5 knots and course 296º. I am thinking of setting at least the small spinnaker, but am waiting for a bank of moderately dark cloud to reach us. It may have some rain and wind. The forward edge is almost overhead. If it doesn’t I’ll set one of the spinnakers. 1210 Making 5 to 5.5 knots under small spinnaker. Clouds brought only a brief wind shift on which I jibed, then went back. Jibed again and set small spinnaker. We could carry the big one, but sky still overcast and the small one needed to be set flying and furled after having the leech tape and a few minor repairs done in Durban. I dealt with a young man named Justin of Quantum Sails. I mention names because he did a really good job on schedule and for what is probably the world’s least expensive price at the current exchange rate. Boat speed now only 4.7, but more or less on right course, and much quieter, smoother and less strain on rigging than with jib set. It took only a minute or two to transfer the spinnaker furling gear and the new green spinnaker sheet from the big spinnaker to the small one. We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn while I was on deck setting the sail. Noon position: 23º 24’ South; 1º 59‘ East. Day’s run: 144 miles. Again we were on track for a 150 mile day until we slowed this morning. Saint Helena 621 miles, bearing 316º. I expected to pass north of Saint Helena, but it looks as though it will be south. Road Town 4639, bearing 303º. Just checked Cocos to Durban log. We left the tropics on August 26 last year at 59º East. Will continue in them for the rest of this year until the final passage to New Zealand from wherever is our penultimate port. 1630 A different sky. Sunny with a few scattered high white clouds. We continue under the small spinnaker, which is the right sail, but I’m not sure I’m going to leave it up after sunset. Wind has returned to the southeast, so we have to sail high or low to avoid collapsing the sail. HIgh at present. Wind 12-14 knots. Waves 4’. May go and sit on deck again. 1900 It is almost as if the Tropic of Capricorn meant something this time. There really has been a dramatic change–for the better–since we crossed it. I lowered the spinnaker not long after going on deck after writing the previous entry. The wind had picked up and with the spinnaker THE HAWKE OF TUONELA was spinning faster than the Monitor could control her, which was causing the spinnaker to back and fill. So we are continuing under the unfurled genoa instead. Making 6 knots more or less in the right direction. But the wind has decreased and the spinnaker would be the better sail. Not going to reset it, or perhaps the big spinnaker, until tomorrow. I have always tried to report wind strength and wave height accurately. If anything I take pride in understating rather than exaggerating. I almost never use exclamation points and dislike hyperbole. So perhaps conditions the past few days have been rougher than I have indicated. What has brought this to mind is that for several days the wind has been strong enough so we were sailing at 7 and 8 knots under a fraction of the jib, sailing faster than we are now with the full sail set. As I’ve been writing, the sun has set. Have to get up and turn on the masthead running light. February 16 South Atlantic Ocean: Monday 0550 I was dreaming that I was being sprinkled with juice from a lemon as a purification ritual upon entering a new Polynesian dwelling. In fact I was being rained on. So I got up and put the top insert into the companionway, which I had left open last night. I do not know of any such Polynesian ritual. We continued under genoa last night, making 5 knots. I slept well on the port settee berth. No back pain. Throughout the night I expected to set one of the spinnakers when I got up, and so I still may, but there are some clouds and rain about and we are making 6 knots with the genoa on the right course. A wind shift came with the rain and I jibed us from starboard broad reach to port a half hour ago. 0920 Making 5.4 knots under big spinnaker. Had a very bad moment, actually minutes, when the jib wouldn’t furl beyond two turns. I was afraid that the halyard had wrapped around the foil at the masthead. This happened once when Carol and I were sailing together about a thousand miles south of here going in the other direction. She hoisted me to the masthead where it was simple to undo the wrap. By myself it would not be pleasant. After a couple of attempts and looking at the masthead, where I couldn’t tell if the halyard was wrapped or not, I eased the halyard and was extremely happy when the sail started coming down. I let it fall a few feet, then hoisted it again, and looked elsewhere for the problem. The furling line had overridden itself on the furling drum. Seldom happens and is caused by slack in the line when furling or unfurling, particularly when the boat is rolling wildly. Cleared the wrap, furled the jib, then hoisted the spinnaker upside down. Realized that mistake before the sail was halfway up. Lowered it. I was aware of this possibility in moving the furling gear between sails and looked for the sailmaker’s emblem, which is near the tack, but couldn’t see it. Thought I had it figured out, but was wrong. Switched head swivel and tack furling drum. Raised again. Still experimenting with proper position of sheet lead for this sail. Because it is so much bigger, the lead needs to be significantly further aft. I keep moving it aft every time I set it. Can’t be changed under load. Will soon be at pad eye near stern, which is maybe where it should be. Some clouds still around. Half clear sky. Nothing threatening. Got a few drops of rain an hour ago. 1210 For the past couple of hours we’ve been moving at 4.5 to 5 knots under the spinnaker, but wind has just increased slightly and we are now getting 6 knots. Also may have backed some, so need to readjust Monitor and sail trim. Sky about half covered with cloud, high, middle, low, but clearing and sunny. The splice in the continuous line the riggers in Opua made up for me for the spinnaker furling gear seems to be separating, so I sat on the foredeck this morning and seized it with whipping twine. Hope that part of the line doesn’t lose its grip on the furling drum. Need to run the engine one of these days. Also would have taken a shower this afternoon with the last of the lost shower bag. Will save the other bag for a while longer. Will lower the dodger one of these days and polish the stainless frame, which has rust marks. I put a new waypoint in the chartplotter, Fernando de Noronha, which is two hundred miles off the eastern bulge of Brazil. We will still have more than 2000 miles to go when we are near Fernando de Noronha, but will have crossed this ocean. Will cross Greenwich Meridian and move into the Western Hemisphere this afternoon or evening. Noon position: 21º 55’ South; 0º 20‘ East. Day’s run: 128. Saint Helena 493 miles, bearing 317º. Fernando de Noronha 2193 miles, bearing 300º. Road Town 4516 miles, bearing 302º. 1800 A pleasant afternoon early, but mostly overcast now. Approaching clouds caused me to lower the spinnaker a few hours prematurely. We could still be carrying it, but are making 6 knots under the genoa anyway, and conditions are not settled enough for me to have left it up overnight. I sat on deck for a couple of hours, then came below and watched the movie version of THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN while eating dinner of freeze dry chicken and rice. Food good; movie not. The director totally messed up the novel, lost its cleverness and subtly. Moved the story from Stockholm to San Francisco. Lots of shouting. irrelevant side stories, and even a pointless imitation BULLIT car chase. Read the book. Don’t watch the movie. We crossed 0º longitude just after 1600. Going to go back on deck with a glass of wine and music. February 17 South Atlantic Ocean: Tuesday 0500 With good solar charging in these latitudes, I am leaving the chartplotter on continuously, and usually the first thing I do in the morning, after a natural function, is change the chartplotter display from night to day mode. This morning the first thing I did was set the spinnaker. Within a few minutes of bagging it yesterday, I knew that I shouldn’t have. It was the right sail for the conditions. However, we were making 5 knots under the genoa, so I didn’t reset it. 5 knots became 4 during the night, so when an hour ago the sail collapsed a couple of times and our boat speed dropped below 4, I got up and did the right thing. My back was starting to bother me anyway. No problems getting the sail up in waning moonlight and using my headlamp. Once it was up I decided I wanted the sheet lead block even further aft, so I furled it and moved the block to the padeye near the stern, which when I unfurled the sail made a greater difference than I expected. Almost a full knot. We’re now doing more than 5. The sky is turning orange to the east, but the sun is still below the horizon. Looks and feels like high pressure, but the barometer is actually down a few millibars to 1013. The second thing I did was turn on my iPod to finish the album of Villa-Lobos guitar music I listened to at intervals during the night. I usually have music on when I first go to sleep, with the sleep timer set for 30 minutes. Instrumental, usually piano or guitar. No voices or words. Sometimes when I wake fully during the night, I start the album again where it left off. Then I switched the chartplotter display to day mode. I have realized that my instrument system is mostly a read out display for the chartplotter’s GPS. Basically I want five bits of information from an instrument system: speed, course, depth, and wind speed and angle. While I have transducers for speed and course, I seldom refer to them, but to Speed Over Ground and Course Over Ground interfaced from the chartplotter. This leaves depth, which I only need close to land, and wind, which with this system is an unpredictable gift given and retracted by a capricious spirit. Then I drank my orange juice, made some coffee, and turned on the computer. It was then 0500. Now 0540. Nice sunrise. Nice music. Instant coffee not so nice. Drink instant at sea to save water. Use more rinsing the coffee press than making the coffee itself. 1200 Jibed a couple of times this morning. Back on port broad reach now. Boat speed between 6.2 and 3.7. More often nearer 3.7. Oops, just glanced at the display and saw 3.5. Wind obviously still light from the south southeast. Band of high white cloud in that direction. Doesn’t mean anything. Barometer up to 1015. More or less on course 300º. All hatches, including forward and main cabin deck hatches, open. 78ºF/25.5ºC. Was smooth enough this morning for me to exercise, including 100 crunches and 50 push-ups. Also shaved. Only do so every third day to conserve water. On other boats I have shaved in salt water, but prefer not to. Am contemplating jibing to north at sunset. Maybe move closer to trade-winds, and I sleep better on the port settee. Although the boat is so level and was last night that it can’t make much difference. Noon position: 20º 54‘ South; 1º 33‘ West. Day’s run 122. (I’m surprised it was that much.) Saint Helena 377 miles, bearing 322º. Fernando de Noronha 2071 miles, bearing 300º. Road Town 4394 miles, bearing 302 º. 1500 Sky is starting to look like a trade wind sky with scattered puffs of low white cloud, but wind has backed some to SSE. We can sail higher than 310º on port broad reach, so I doubt I will jibe to starboard unless there is a change. Have averaged 4 knots since noon. Lowered dodger and polished the stainless frame. Sat on deck for about an hour, but have come below to get out of sun. Have various objects drying in cockpit. including passage clothes, the laundry bag, both remaining Sportaseats, and various trash bags with various contents that were in the hanging locker and doused by the wave several nights ago. 2030 I love it out here. A tropical sky. I wouldn’t have to look at the latitude to know I was here. A tentative trade wind sky this afternoon, followed by clouds forming at dusk. Rain fell behind us. And then the sky cleared again after dark. I went back on deck in late afternoon. Found some shade on the lee side beneath the boom. The wind shifted and I jibed a few times. Ended up as I began on port broad reach. Was finally able to sit to windward–not that there is much difference: we were making 4.5 knots in 6 knots of wind–when the sun sank behind a cloud to the west. Watched its light being diffused and refracted. A single bird hunted ahead of us. I ate dinner on deck, listening to music and watching the waves. Seldom in the open ocean is there only one set of waves. With this light wind, there were low swells from the south and the east, and an occasional larger swell coming from the direction of Brazil. Enough sometimes to roll the wind from the white spinnaker, which has now been set often enough so that I no longer know how many hours. The perfect sail for these conditions. A few days ago I was disappointed when SOG dropped below 6.5 knots. Now I am grateful when it, rarely, reaches up to 5. Still we’re almost sailing at the speed of the wind and I can’t ask for more. Something is squeaking on deck. Going to check. Been a long day. About time to go to bed. February 18 South Atlantic Ocean: Wednesday 0620 We glide almost silently. A gurgle from the bow ripple, a swish as the water leaves the stern, a low thump as the spinnaker swells. THE HAWKE OF TUONELA is heeled a few degrees to port. I jibed a few minutes ago. She sways back and forth and rocks up and down, but in slow motion so that any object I look up at through the companionway, such as the hand rail between the half’s of the cockpit seems to trace an ellipse. I left us on a port broad reach during the night and slept well. Only got up once to look around. It was obvious from my bunk that nothing had changed. I am continually surprised that the Monitor can keep us on course in such light wind, only one or two knots apparent, with us moving at 4 knots ahead of 6 knots true wind at most; but it did, though sailing low of the desired course. I finally got up at 0530 and jibed with my first cup of coffee. We’re now where I want us to be around 310º. The sun has just risen behind a cloud almost exactly as it set last evening. Sky mostly clear. Barometer 1014. We left Durban three weeks ago today. 0830 Wind has increased to 9 knots. There are a few scattered white-caps, which first appear at 7 or 8 knots. However it was not reflected in our speed. I’m still experimenting with trimming this sail, both sheet and halyard tension. I eased the sheet and our speed went up. Easy to over trim in very light wind and not always a bad thing because it can help prevent the sail from collapsing. Above 5 knot SOG for a while. Have just definitely established that my newest iPod has some bad sectors on the hard drive. Some pieces of music have just abruptly stopped, but the same play perfectly on my old iPod. Bach harpsichord concerti in particular. 1205 Wind back to 7 knots. 18” wavelets were collapsing spinnaker and causing Monitor to wander, so an hour ago I switched to tiller pilot. Hasn’t made much difference. Sail is staying full a bit more, but our SOG only 3.5. Barometer 1017. Lovely day if we had 5 knots more wind. Noon position: 20º 04’ South; 3º 06‘ West. Day’s run 101 miles. Saint Helena, which is becoming irrelevant, 286 miles, bearing 330º. Fernando de Noronha 1970 miles, bearing 300º. Road Town 4293, bearing 303º. 1530 Very pleasant on deck and very slow. I went on deck at 1400 and almost immediately switched from the tiller pilot back to the Monitor because the almost imperceptible wind was swinging from one side of the stern to the other, backing the spinnaker. The Monitor with the big plastic vane that used to be called a light air vane keeps the wind on one side or if it goes over, eventually brings the boat back. Scanmar, the manufacturers of the Monitor, say the the plastic vane really is all purpose, and I have found that to be true. I haven’t used the standard vane at all this year. The wind is so light that although the masthead unit is transmitting, it is showing wind speed as 0.0, because there is not enough breeze to turn the rotator cups on the anemometer. Also I noticed what looked like a defect near the foot of the spinnaker. To check it out, I eased the halyard, sheeted in the sail and reached out and pulled it to me. Can’t often do that with a 900 square foot sail. It was simply a loose thread stuck to the surface of the sail, probably an end cut off by the sailmaker when stitching. The best thing about being on a starboard broad reach is that the spinnaker keeps almost the entire deck in shadow all afternoon. Unfortunately where once I was unhappy with 4 knots, now I long for it, which I haven’t seen since this morning. All 2.5 to 3.5. The forward rank of trade wind clouds to the east have reached us. I had hoped they would bring more wind, but not yet. Several fish swimming beside us. Going to make a rum and tonic and go back up. 2015 Wind veered after sunset. Jibed to port broad reach. Making 3 knots. February 19 South Atlantic Ocean: Thursday 0610 A few drops of rain and a slight increase in wind woke me briefly at 0400. Neither lasted, so I shut the companionway and went back to sleep. By 0530 the wind had backed, so I got up and again the first thing I did was jibe to starboard. More pre-dawn cloud than yesterday, and we are actually heeled a few degrees and making 4.5 knots. Occasionally I even see a 5. However that won’t make up for the slow progress yesterday. We won’t even have a 4 knot average for the day’s run. Our course is high, to the northwest, which is satisfactory. The wind should be better to the north. Barometer 1015. Sun just beginning to color clouds peach, sky powder blue. 0720 Breakfast on deck while adjusting trim of spinnaker and Monitor. I sail by feel and balance. Many small non-verbal, maybe pre-verbal observations go into that. Certainly sight plays a part. I look at the sails and the waves. But ultimately a sailor simply knows when his boat is right. While this wind seems more substantial than that which we have had, our boat speed is dropping back to 4.2 and 3.9. I was able simply to set the one liter plastic measuring cup I eat from at sea containing my cereal on the cockpit sole when I adjusted a line. Other than that measuring cup, I use only a coffee cup, a plastic glass, a fork, a small spoon, a table spoon, occasionally a knife to cut a lemon, and a tea kettle to heat water for coffee in the morning and freeze dry food at night, and every third day to shave. No pots or pans. For lunch I use a paper towel as a plate. Putting out the solar shower bag. Will celebrate the end of my second week at sea with a shower. 1045 Most dawn clouds have burned off, as they usually do at sea in the tropics. Only a few scattered high and low white ones left in a mostly blue sky. Sea dark blue dotted with rare white-caps. Wind 8 and 9 knots. We’re making 4.5 to 5 SOG. More than two days is a long time for me to have the spinnaker set, and it should have been up for three. Partly this is the conditions, and more the spinnaker furling gear, which thus far takes the hassle out of getting the sail down. It really does change the way I sail. As a secondary consequence it will also change the size of my next jib. There has been a steady progression during my sailing life from bigger to smaller jibs. In ignorance I ordered a 170% genoa on my first boat, an Excalibur 26 in of all places San Francisco, where I sailed out of Berkeley Marina. Just outside the marina was a circle of buoys used by any class that wanted a heavy weather regatta. It was the last place for a 170% genoa. On EGREGIOUS I had 150% jib; but during her circumnavigation around Cape Horn, I seldom used the biggest sails. RESURGAM had a 135%, and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA has a 130%. As readers of past passage logs know, I often have the jib partially furled on THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, and always when going to windward in more than 12 knots of wind. I’ve justified the bigger sail area by its usefulness off the wind. Now able to set spinnakers with ease thanks to the spinnaker furling gear, my next jib will be at most a 110%, and possibly only 100%. ———- Just finished THE SPANISH BOW by Andromeda Romano-Lax, whose main character is based loosely on the cellist, Pablo Casals. It is a book I came upon by chance and found its accounts of the life and trials of a musician and the history of the first half of last century in Spain, intelligent, well-written, and thoroughly enjoyable. When I can I’ll see if she has written anything since. ———- 1205 We are two weeks out of Port Elizabeth today. Noon position: 19º 12’ South; 4º 19‘ West. Day’s run: 86 miles. Week’s run: 888 miles. Saint Helena 210 miles, bearing 339º. Fernando de Noronha 1886 miles, bearing 299º. Road Town 4208 miles, bearing 302.º At the moment our SOG is 4.4 knots and COG 303º. Hopefully the wind will last and even strengthen and we can reverse the second week’s trend of ever lower day’s runs, which were 159, 148, 144, 128, 122, 101, and 86. Total miles since Port Elizabeth is 1909. Our first week’s average speed was 6.08 knots. The second’s 5.28. Which is why it is very difficult to average 6 knots in this size boat for an entire ocean passage, even though THE HAWKE OF TUONELA will easily reach 8 knots. I estimate the time most passages will take based on an average speed of 5.5 knots, which is a 132 mile day’s run. I thought this one might be faster, and it still may be; but at the moment we are not far off at an average speed of 5.68 knots and an average day’s run of 136.4 miles. 1500 Had a great shower. Water in solar bag almost too hot, as they warn you and I know from experience. I had moved it into shade, but not soon enough. Boat as steady as at anchor. And no need to duck below quickly to get out of the wind after final rinse. 82ºF. Only going to get hotter. The sun is still 8º north of us, though we are catching up. Changed into clean shorts and got out a clean t-shirt. Although I have always kept shower bags with water in them in the cockpit, and it does not seem likely a freak wave is going to come along soon and wash it overboard, this one has been out of the way on the starboard quarter berth, so I returned it there until next time. I also ran the engine for twenty minutes. Hadn’t been run for two weeks. While it was on, I furled and lowered the spinnaker to check the halyard for chaff where it runs through blocks near the masthead. No problems. Retied the bowline in a slightly different position and raised the sail again. Down and up in less than five minutes. The fish are still with us. When I went aft to check that water was coming from the engine exhaust, I saw two of them swimming about five feet down off the stern. They are 2’ long, and I think there are at least a half dozen swimming with us. Perhaps tuna. They are fortunate I am not a fisherman. Wind has dropped back to 6 knots from 10. Boat speed around 4. These are easy miles, except for the spinnaker collapsing, which puts much less stress on the rig than would the genoa jerking the headstay, but passing too slowly. 1800 There was a novel of the French Resistance titled THE SILENCE OF THE SEA. I read it once more than forty years ago. As I recall the plot, a decent German army officer is billeted with a French aristocrat and his daughter, who refuse to speak to him. The title refers to the calm surface of the sea beneath which fish and other creatures are engaged in a violent struggle for survival. I thought of this because as I ate my dinner of freeze dry spaghetti Bolognese on deck, THE HAWKE OF TUONELA school of tuna were eating their dinner in the sea. I saw white swirls and twice fish leapt out of the water. I wonder how far they will travel with the mother ship? I uploaded photographs from the camera to the computer this afternoon. Got some interesting images of the fish distorted by water refraction that cause me to consider what shapes enable us still to see an image as a fish. I was listening to Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in the famous recording by Jacqueline du Pre. Elgar made a cameo appearance in THE SPANISH BOW, as did Picasso, Alma Mahler–the ex-wife of Gustav Mahler, Erik Satie off stage, and many other of the greats of the early 20th Century art world. I wonder what it must have been like for Elgar and Picasso to have known while still alive that they had created works that would be remembered long after their deaths. A lovely evening. Still almost an hour until sunset. Wind a little stronger. At the moment we are doing 5.0 knots, and at least our average since noon is more than 4. 2040 The spinnaker furling gear just passed its first test of what happens when the wind suddenly gusts. A line of cloud formed to the east at sunset which looked to have rain in it. I watched its progress, but didn’t furl the spinnaker until it reached us and our boat speed leapt from 4 knots to over 7 and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA heeled deeply. I loosened the sheet and pulled on the furling line and the sail disappeared. While we continued to go as fast under bare poles as we did for much of the day under the spinnaker, I lowered it to the deck, stuffed it and its lines in the bag and took it below. Returning to deck, I set about half of the genoa, under which we are making 6.4 knots, still smoothly. Light rain continues to fall. No moon or stars. Pitch dark night. In the cabin, I unbagged the sail and sorted out the furling line and sheets to prepare the sail to be set again. Don’t expect present conditions to last long. February 20 South Atlantic Ocean: Friday 0505 Not a restful night. Rain ended quickly and wind shifted back to where it was and weakened. But it didn’t stay there. When I awoke during the night our course varied between 340º and 240º. Boat speed usually 5 knots. I opened the companionway at 2300. Was rained on again at midnight. Was partially awake twenty minutes ago when I heard an odd whirling sound, something like a winch handle revolving freely, until I recognized the thumping of a flying fish on deck. I got up, removed the top companionway insert. Didn’t see the fish in the cockpit or on deck. Continued thumping finally revealed him beneath the dodger on the top of the companionway sliding hatch. Knowing how fishy flying fish smell, I had brought a handful of Kleenex, grabbed him and threw him back. Then had to go to the galley for paper towels and kitchen spray to clean the scales and some of the smell from the hatch. Still dark and cloudy. Last crescent sliver of moon has disappeared behind clouds. One star visible. Sailing northwest at 5.1 under full genoa. Barometer 1013. We’re 138 miles due south of Saint Helena. 0615 Sun just above the horizon. We’re near the west side of the time zone. I stood on the companionway steps and watched a narrow band below the clouds turn orange, now yellow. I enjoy watching the changing light out here on both sky and sea. Mostly cloudy, though with breaks to the south. Some rain falling to the north and perhaps ahead of us. Other than the thicker clouds, conditions are not much different than they have been. 2’ waves or less. Motion still relatively smooth. Must be more wind because we are making 5.5 to 6 knots. Don’t know for sure, as I don’t know the strength of the gust last night, because wind instrument not deigning to transmit. Last night probably not more than 20 to 25 knots. Found another flying fish in cockpit. This one smaller and dead. The one I threw back in alive doesn’t have much chance of survival unless it finds another school, particularly if the tuna are still with us. Waiting to see how the morning develops before doing something: setting one of the spinnakers or at least putting a third sheet on the genoa. ———- In 1988 Jill and I sailed to Saint Helena after going up the African coast to Namibia. I remember that, too, as being a very light air passage. From Saint Helena we went north to the Azores and then Portugal and Spain. In 1992 we sailed, also in RESURGAM, the last third of this passage, from the bulge of Brazil to Road Town, when we went directly there from Rio de Janeiro. That part was very fast, with strong winds and current behind us. That leaves the next 1800 miles, which at the moment show promise. 1210 I did both. First put a third sheet on the genoa, then set the small spinnaker. When I moved the genoa sheet to the car on the rail, the snatch block snapped against the car when it took the load and snapped off the top of the spring loaded pin that holds the car in place on the track. It broke off below the top of the car, so I can’t move that car any longer. Only way I can see ever to remove it is either to saw through or possibly drill a hole in the end of the pin and try to get a screw into it that I can then pull on. Not something to be done out here. I can move another car from another track if necessary. Sky has cleared and unfortunately the wind has weakened. Still stronger than it was, We’re averaging 5 knots under the small spinnaker. Could carry the big one, but I’m weary and will leave this one up, unless our speed drops below 4 knots. There is a line of white cloud to the east. Mostly blue sky. Noon position: 18º 04’ South; 5º 53‘ West. Day’s run 112 miles. Fernando de Noronha 1776 miles, bearing 299º. Road Town 4097 miles, bearing 302º. 1630 Been on deck listening to music, Ishmael Lo, a Senegalese. Beautiful afternoon. Sunny. Almost completely blue sky. More wind than we’ve had these past few days, but wish there were even more. We’re probably still averaging five knots, but 2’ seas are collapsing the spinnaker. We could carry the bigger sail, but I’m not setting it because I’m weary and because collapsing and refilling it is more likely to get caught and ripped by a spreader than is the smaller sail. Am still sailing high of the rhumb line for a better angle of apparent wind. Hatches open. I’m starting to think that is normal. February 21 South Atlantic Ocean: Saturday 0620 An easy night. I slept well and only got up once at 0200. We were and are sailing at 5 knots. Actually 6 at the moment. Some clouds behind us, backlit by the rising sun, look more ominous than I expect they are. If conditions remain as they have been–and our speed is now 5.3–I’ll switch to the big spinnaker sometime this morning. Curious to see what difference it makes. Two baby squid in the cockpit this morning. They shot themselves there. We certainly haven’t taken a wave. We will pass into a new time zone sometime today. I’ll change ship’s time then. Not sure if it will be before noon. In thinking about that I realized that we are now more than halfway around the world from New Zealand. My mooring is 174º 07’ East. Yesterday at noon we were 5º 53‘ West. Exactly halfway. We sailed from Opua ten months ago today. Plan to do the other half in less. 0840 A thin line of rain–I can see through it–is passing just to the north. None has fallen on us yet. It has brought more wind. How much I do not exactly know because while the masthead unit is transmitting, the anemometer is not rotating and so I have angle, but not speed. Hmm. We are sailing smoothly at 6 and at times over 7 knots. I think the bigger spinnaker would have to come down in such conditions, or I would have to hand steer myself. Not likely. A bosun bird is hunting around us. On some of his sweeps, he comes to within a few feet of the cockpit and turns and looks at me inquisitively. 0945/0845 In a few minutes we will cross 7º 30’ West and move into the GMT -1 time zone and I’ll set the clock back. The first line of cloud and rain passed, but more is coming. SOG over 6 with this spinnaker, so it doesn’t look as though I will be setting the bigger one today. With enough wind to keep sail from collapsing, motion is very smooth. 0935 The next line of cloud and rain passed directly over us. I left the spinnaker up, but stood in the companionway ready to go on deck and furl it if necessary. As I expected the strongest wind was on the leading edge. THE HAWKE OF TUONELA did round up partially twice before the Monitor regained control. Boat speed above 8 knots in bursts and steadily above 7. If I had thought the wind would last, I would have furled the sail. But it didn’t. Probably blew 20 to 25 knots. Rain has passed. Wind deceased. Speed only 4.8 knots. The bigger spinnaker would be better most of the time, but too much in the gusts. More cloud astern. Not sure if more rain. Cabin hot and stuffy when I have to close companionway. Open now. 1210 Too much wind ahead of the next cloud line. I saw it coming at 1030 and got the spinnaker furled, down, bagged and below deck in time. Continued under partially furled genoa, which is what I have up now. Another patch of rain is passing close to the north of us. The bosun bird continues to remain with us. Flying close to the stern and sometimes landing on the water just behind it, remaining until we sail away, then rising and circling again. If he is looking for a handout, I am out of flying fish and squid and will not share my lunch of canned tuna. In the book of New Zealand sea birds a similar bird is called the White-tailed Tropicbird. I know them as bosun birds because their two long tail feathers are supposed to resemble the splicing fid carried by bosuns on sailing ships. Noon position: 16º 43’ South; 7º 41‘ West. Day’s run: 132 miles (25 hours). Fernando de Noronha 1648, bearing 298º. Road Town 3967, bearing 302º. Our boat speed is varying between 5.5 and 6.1 knots. Course between 295º and 305º. Barometer 1017. ———- There are two water spigots in the galley, one fresh, one salt. No problem in telling them apart. They are not identical and the fresh water has a foot pump, the salt hand. I wash everything, including my hands, except for a cup and a glass, in salt water, and have noticed a substantial increase in ocean temperature the past few days. Instrument system says it is 78ºF/25.5ºC. Also notice that the skin of my hands is rougher and coarser at sea than ashore. 1800 I think the sun has set, but can’t tell for certain, Sky ⅔ overcast. Not a storm, just a succession of clouds with brief, light showers. Another approaching from astern. Companionway closed, but small deck hatch above where I’m setting on the port settee berth is open. Because it opens forward, rain from astern doesn’t come in that hatch. I may leave it partially open tonight. Won’t be able to leave the companionway open without getting rained on sometime. When I look at the instruments, we usually seem to be doing 6+ knots, but are averaging less than that since noon. Problem is the lulls in between. That is the problem with these uneven conditions. Nothing severe, but the boat is usually over or under canvassed. Have two rolls in the jib. May put in one or two more before I try to go to sleep. Spent part of the afternoon on deck. Bosun bird flew close several times, almost within arm’s length. He turned his head toward the boat each time, seemingly looking for a place to land. I did not encourage him. I know from sad experience that sea birds are not properly boat trained. February 22 South Atlantic Ocean: Sunday 0605 Conditions about the same. Sky partially clear. One big patch of rain passing to the south behind us. Last night I sat on deck for a while. Before coming below, I put a couple of more furls in the jib in an effort to keep the boat from spinning off to leeward, collapsing and then refilling the jib, which is not good for sail, rig, or me. I took the chance and did leave the companionway open. Didn’t have to close it until a brief shower at 0300. We’re continuing to average about 5.5 knots, but on a course much higher than I want, somewhere in the 320ºs. Again in an effort to avoid accidental backing of jib. Barometer 1015. Wind 16-18, gusting more briefly in front of rain clouds. seas 4’. 1015 In a foul mood this morning. Don’t know why, except I can’t get the damn boat to sail anywhere near our course without the jib backing and filling. I’ve jibed twice. Back on starboard now and sailing about 335º. About time to jibe again and end up sailing 260º. Even more undesirable. Have varied jib size from fully out to deeply furled. Only two rolls in it at present. Also saw the first cockroach since Durban. Was in sink. Maybe eggs have hatched and this is the first of a new generation. Sky has cleared and what few clouds are left don’t have rain in them. Wind 20 knots. Waves up to 6’. Should be good sailing, but isn’t. 1400 Have spent past two hours trying to fix one of my solar panels without success. Had noticed that I’ve not been getting full charging the past few days. Attributed it in part to cloudiness; but sunny today. So I started checking. Quickly found that one of my two big panels was not putting out power. Found problems with connections at both ends of the wire. Replaced both and did several other things too tedious and frustrating to relate. In the end the panel has failed. May have to reduce consumption or run engine every few days. Not serious either way, just irritating. In the meantime THE HAWKE OF TUONELA continues to sail way too far north, so I’ll jibe and sail too far south for a while. Don’t love it out here today. 1630 Can’t deny that it has become a beautiful afternoon. Wind has backed SSE, so we are sailing within 10º of the desired course at around 6 knots. Only clouds are scattered trade wind puffs to the northeast. Sky and sea blue. Wind 16 to 18. Really perfect. But I’m still out of sorts. Maybe tomorrow will be better, and a gin and tonic may help in the meantime. February 23 South Atlantic Ocean: Monday 0530 Very odd. Heavy cloud cover. Looks like rain behind us. Almost becalmed. What wind there is comes from the north. Flopping west at 3-4 knots with jib and Monitor trimmed for beam reach. Hopefully this won’t last long. We were having a pretty good day’s run. Brief light rain woke me at midnight to close companionway. I leave it open as long as possible. Then at 0300 a major wind shift to the east woke me because our motion changed through the waves. I realized what had happened even before looking at the instruments, got up and jibed from port to starboard, then in cabin jibed my sleeping bag and pillow from the starboard to port settee berth. Didn’t get much sleep after that. I’m using one of the photos I took of the fish a few days ago as my screen saver. I like the refracted fish more than I would a clear photo of them. Water they are swimming in looks inviting. 0615 Jibed back to port. SOG 1.8. Barometer 1012. 0730 Just ran engine for a half hour. Needed to charge batteries and we were flopping around badly with no wind. Now five patches of rain around ¾ of horizon, though seems to be clearing beyond thin rain to the east. Wind has returned. SOG 6.1 on port broad reach under slightly furled jib. In better mood today, though day itself is not as nice as yesterday. This has not been a hard passage so far. No beating to windward. No sustained heavy water over deck. No need to rig plastic over the head and foot of my bunk to avoid drips from companionway and mast. No sustained calms or storms. I was just out of synch yesterday, Disappointed at the cockroach–haven’t seen any more since–and frustrated by wasted effort trying to fix solar panel. 0900 Clear sky has reached us from the east. Rain withdrawing ahead. Fell on us for a minute or two. Checked fuel tank. Was nearly full in Durban. As expected still 85%-90% full. Removed cover and checked engine. Looks o.k. Not enough water in compartment to try to remove. No longer having one of my two large solar panels, I am maximizing exposure of the other two. The large one is on the sun side of the cockpit, and I shifted the boom to port to minimizes its shadow on the smaller fixed one forward of the dodger. Doing so gave an immediate increase of total output from 2 amps to 3. Easy enough under these conditions to move big panel and boom when the sun moves to the other side of the boat this afternoon. 1205 Sunny. Few scattered white clouds that have a little more substance than trade wind puffs. Wind 16-18 knots. This, as all wind speeds, are my estimates. In the unlikely event the wind unit resumes providing wind speed, I will say so. Though we were nearly on a 6 knot pace when I jibed at 0300, we slowed considerably at dawn. Making 6.1, but high of course at present. COG 326º on starboard broad reach. I jibed a couple of times this morning. Barometer 1012. Noon position: 14º 25’ South; 11º 26‘ West. Day’s run: 128 miles. Fernando de Noronha 1393, bearing 297º. Road Town 3710, bearing 302º. 1740 Sunny afternoon. Wind moderate and has swung back and forth a little, so I’ve jibed back and forth a little, now on starboard. A few scattered clouds around horizon, but completely clear overhead. Barometer is down to 1009. Might be the trailing edge of what I conclude was a tropical wave that passed these past few days. Didn’t finish watching the movies I started last night and the night before. One was NIGHT IN THE MUSEUM. Can’t remember what could have caused me to have recorded it. The other an old Michael Redgrave, THUNDER ROCK, in which he plays a lighthouse keeper on Lake Michigan. Could have been interesting, but was tedious instead. Hope I do better tonight. Time for dinner. February 24 South Atlantic Ocean: Tuesday 0545 Last night was a repeat of the night before. Not long after sunset the sky became completely cloud covered and remained that way all night, with more rain than we’ve had. Again at 0300 the wind weakened and we flopped around for a while. When at 0500 I looked at the instrument display I keep near my berth, we were heading 345º, so I got up and jibed to port. Sky still covered with low cloud. Rain passing close to the southeast. Barometer 1010. Two of my fellow circumnavigators have told me that the passage from Saint Helena to the Caribbean was the best they ever made. So far not for me. We’re still making average progress in the right direction and the wind has remained between east and south. I don’t know exactly what this is, but it is not trade winds. 0820 Some blue sky ahead, but solid cloud overhead and rain from northeast to southeast astern. Not getting much solar charging today. Jibed to starboard. About to jibe back to port. Yesterday I considered setting at least the small spinnaker. We could probably carry it–I have the full jib set–but what a mistake that would have been in these unsettled conditions. 1205 Sun finally began to burn away clouds in past hour. Sky now mostly clear, but clouds around horizon. We got some solar charging even through the cloud cover, and I was at least able to open the companionway after 0900. I planned to take a shower today and have put out the bag, but not sure I will. Wind around 20 knots and so far the day is not hot. Shaved earlier. We’re sailing at 6+ knots on port broad reach on a course of around 292º. Barometer 1012. Noon position almost identical latitude and longitude: 13º 05‘ South; 13º 12‘ West. Day’s run: 131 miles. Fernando de Noronha 1265, bearing 296º. Road Town 3581 miles, bearing 302º. 1530 Third beautiful afternoon in succession. We’ll see if this is the third successive unsettled night. This might be the nicest afternoon of the three. Sunny. Wind 18 knots. Seas were never more than 5’ to 6’, but are now down to 3’ and 4’. We’ve averaged 6 knots since noon. I did some exercises, took a shower, changed into clean clothes. Small pleasures. Followed by a beer and music on deck. Was able to find shade beneath the boom to leeward. Boat is not heeled much, so comfortable there. Some sailors like to steer from leeward, but I am not one of them. I generally prefer the high side on deck and the low side in the cabin. 1830 Beautiful on deck. I was just up there with a glass of wine, watching the sunset. For 13º from the Equator, pleasantly cool. THE HAWKE OF TUONELA moving smoothly, though now slightly below a six knot average since noon. If it is like this tomorrow, I think a spinnaker goes up. And then I turn and look suspiciously at the clouds forming behind us. 2015 This afternoon’s clear sky has become almost completely cloud covered. I can see three stars. Clouds don’t look like rain. Yet. Wind has veered and weakened. Before sunset we were sailing 295º at 6 knots. Now around 275º at 5,4 knots. February 25 South Atlantic Ocean: Wednesday 0559 A nice night. A few drops of rain caused me to close the companionway at midnight. (Just surfed down a small wave at 8.1. Didn’t feel any different from the 5.8 we are generally doing. Only the sound of the rumble caused me to glance at the instrument display.) I probably could have left the companionway open, and did open it again when I got up next at 0300. The sky then was clear and star filled. We sailed west, low of our course, during the night. I jibed to starboard when I got up an hour ago, so now we are sailing high. Scattered trade wind clouds. A different sky from the past few mornings. Barometer hasn’t changed much in any of this. Now 1011. 0720 With the long shadows at first light and last, you often see things that you don’t with the sun higher. So this morning I noticed what looked like a small tear in the genoa, about a third of the way up from the foot and ten feet in from the leech. I got a roll of sail repair tape and a scissors and lowered the sail part way so I could reach the spot. Lowering a sail under load is not always easy, but I had sprayed the luff tape with McLube, which helps it slide in the furling gear groove, and it came down. When it did I saw that there was no tear, only a small piece of white tape stuck to the surface. I removed the tape and then had a hassle raising the sail again. After a break for a second cup of coffee, I set the small spinnaker. There is more wind than I would usually consider for a spinnaker, but I was curious and since it is early in the day, have a good many hours in which to lower before dark if it is a problem. I don’t think the small spinnaker is any bigger than the genoa, which is 478 sq. ft. Maybe not even as big. In any event, being of lighter cloth and cut more fully, it is giving us a few tenths of a knot more boat speed and has smoothed out the ride. It, which is an old sail cut down as a first experiment with the spinnaker furling gear, is a very good passage sail. Not nearly as powerful as the big spinnaker, but for that very reason with a bigger range. 1015 Beautiful morning. Sailing at 6+ knots under spinnaker. One big cloud to the northeast that I hope doesn’t cause a change significant enough for me to have to furl the spinnaker. Otherwise powder blue sky, deep blue sea with white-caps. After watching the last half of the final episode of PRIME SUSPECT, a British police series, last night, I listened in darkness to Goreiki’s THIRD SYMPHONY. After the soprano sang the high notes, I went to the companionway to see if I had sailed into a parallel universe. (The explanation for that is found in, “Sailing To Africa,” at the end of this book. ) I don’t seem to, but then really can’t be certain. On previous voyages I usually listened to the Voice of America or the BBC before dawn or after dark when the signals can reach even mid-ocean, but not yet on this passage. All I wonder is what is happening with Carol. Just finished THE DELUGE, the second volume of Henryk Siekiewicz’s trilogy about Poland. I read the first in the Indian Ocean and will read the third and last in the Pacific. THE DELUGE is not as well known, but is similar and every bit as good as the first volume, WITH FIRE AND SWORD. That was about a Cossack rebellion; THE DELUGE a war with Sweden. Lovers whose love has to be sacrificed, until the very end, for the good of the country; an interesting villain; and many well-written battle scenes. 1200 Cloud passed and dissolved without any effect, but the wind has increased and we are on the edge of going too fast for the Monitor, with speeds above 7 knots and boat spinning off more quickly than the vane can respond. I’ll let it go a while longer. Sunny with only scattered trade wind puffs of cloud. Barometer 1013. Noon position: 12º 20’ South; 15º 19’ West. Day’s run 132 miles. Fernando de Noronha 1134, bearing 297º. Road Town 3452, bearing 302º 1330 Beautiful afternoon. Wind and boat speed have dropped slightly. Pleasant in cabin with all hatches open and breeze blowing through. When I crawled aft on the port quarter berth to check the big water tank, which is the one we have been using since the start of this passage, I opened a small porthole into the cockpit back there, which I generally keep closed at sea. 80ºF/ 27ºC on cabin thermometer. Waiting for spinnaker to cast shade on deck before going to sit up there. 2045 Did some minor maintenance this afternoon. Cleaned the ports, tightened the lifelines, lubricated Monitor blocks, dried towels. Spent much of afternoon outside after 1400. Ran engine for ½ hour to charge batteries. Not getting quite enough from two remaining solar panels. Had dinner of beef stroganoff on deck. Spinnaker still up. Could carry bigger one, but I’m not that ambitious. Starry night. Sailing at 5.6 knots, about average for the week. February 26 South Atlantic Ocean: Thursday 0615 Slow getting moving this morning. Been awake for an hour, but still in a state of torpor. No particular reason. Went to bed at 2200. Was an uneventful night. Averaged 5 knots. Could have carried the bigger spinnaker. Might set it eventually this morning. Sun on horizon only ten minutes ago. Color coming to sky: blue, peach, yellow. Some clouds around and rain to north of us, but not the way it was a few days ago. Listening to the remaining Faure Nocturnes, which is what I went to sleep to last night. 0650 Finally awake enough to jibe away from the rain, which is bending the wind and taking us too high anyway. Now ten degrees too low. SOG briefly to 6.9. Such conditions are the problem with setting the big spinnaker, particularly at night, when I really don’t want to wake up as the boat rounds up out of control. After jibing the sail, I come below and jibe the book I am reading, an instrument display, the computer, and two cushions from port to starboard. Baby flying fish in cockpit. To get there required a leap of at least a hundred times its own length. Unfortunately for it a leap of self-destruction rather than preservation. Survival instincts are just a matter of blind numbers. 1200 Rain clouds dispersed. Sunny now. Wind has been 20+ knots. Almost too strong for this sail at times, but I thought it would weaken and it has. Boat speed down to 5.8 after being over 6 for most of the morning. Barometer 1010. Noon position: 11º 16’ South; 17º 10’ West. Day’s run 127 miles. Week’s run 896. Fernando de Noronha 1008, bearing 296º. Road Town 3325, bearing 302º. A remarkably consistent and average week, with runs of 112, 132, 134, 128. 131, 132, 127; making an average day’s run of 128 miles and a 5.33 knot average. We are three weeks out of Port Elizabeth today and not quite halfway, which is what I expected, though our fast start gave me false hopes of a six knot passage. So far we’ve covered 2805 miles and have come 24º north and 42º west. Still have 30º north and 47º west to go. Thought at the beginning it would take 6 ½ weeks and baring the unexpected that still seems about right. It seems to me that we’ve been out longer than three weeks. Perhaps that is because we sailed from Durban four weeks ago yesterday and have been pretty much in passage mode ever since, even during the five days in Port Elizabeth. Changed C-Map Max cartridge in chartplotter from Africa and Indian Ocean to South American and Caribbean. This entire circumnavigation is covered by only three C-Map Max cartridges. The third is Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, which is the one I started on and will return to after Panama. Also changed the dish towel. Can’t do the entire circumnavigation on only three dish towels. At least not without washing them. 1800 Another beautiful afternoon. Wind could have been a bit stronger at times. It troubles me not to have the best sail set, and that would have been the white spinnaker this afternoon, but the nights have been too uneven for that sail, so I’ve trimmed for the gusts and kept the blue one. However in the last half hour the wind has strengthened enough to give us 6 knots under the smaller spinnaker and I’m content. Imagine perfectly pleasant sailing: sunny skies, temperature warm without being too hot, your boat moving smoothly through a deep blue white-capped sea; and that is what we’ve had. Could be slightly faster; couldn’t be more comfortable. Near sunset the sea turns from blue to black. February 27 South Atlantic Ocean: Friday 0640 Peaceful dawn with nothing but trade wind clouds, which revives the question of setting the bigger spinnaker. Watched EXODUS last night. A sign of my age that I was surprised that it was made in 1960. Almost everyone in it, including Paul Newman, is now dead. I was still in college. Movie concludes with a speech about how Jews and Arabs will soon be able to live together in the land. Right. 0830 Worked up a sweat. Set the white spinnaker. Both sails furl less tightly above the clew than below. (Had to stop writing because sweat burning my eyes.) The blue one is worse, and often the head of the sail opens as it is being raised and a bulge catches the wind and the sail get caught in a twist and has to be lowered to be sorted out, then set flying, which means winching in a lot of halyard against pressure in the sail. This morning the same thing happened with the white sail. Had to lower it, then re-raise it, which being a bigger sail is even harder. The end result is that there is most of a knot more boat speed in the big spinnaker than in the small one, and that the big spinnaker is really too much in these conditions for the Monitor, so I’m going to go on deck soon and change back. A learning experience. 0910 Back to the way we were an hour and a gallon of sweat ago, making 5 knots under blue spinnaker. The white one is drying out in the cockpit after part of it slid under the lifelines and into the ocean. Actually making 5.8 knots at moment. Now I know when to leave well enough alone. The lesson learned, or rather relearned for I knew this: if you are getting it done painlessly, don’t cause pain. 1210 This morning’s spinnaker exercises caused me to forget to brush my teeth. I remembered an hour ago, and also shaved and set out the solar shower bag. Continues to be a perfect trade wind day. White spinnaker still drying in cockpit. Noon position: 10º 08’ South; 18º 56‘ West. Day’s run 124 miles. Fernando de Noronha 885, bearing 295º. Road Town 3201, bearing 302º. 1530 Wind lighter. SOG 4.8. Don’t think I’m going to rush on deck and set the bigger spinnaker. Showered. Thought it would use up the last of the water in the solar bag, but it didn’t. Still enough for a fresh water rinse, or by adding a gallon, a full shower. Probably have enough fresh water for showers, but will probably use salt for a while. Ran engine for ½ hour. Doing that every other day is enough, with the solar panels, to keep batteries up. Biggest use is this computer, writing, working with photographs, sometimes electronic charts and Visual Passage Planner, an occasional game of dominos or Super DX-Ball, which is much more challenging on a moving platform, and a movie at night. Also still have chartplotter on all the time, instrument system, which doesn’t use much, masthead tricolor is an LED, which also doesn’t use much, and music. Cabin lights are on only a few minutes. 2030 Dinner on deck. Chicken stew. Just at sunset saw first bird since the bosun bird several days ago, a small petrel. Clear, starry night. Orion over the shadow that is spinnaker. Once while sailing CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE on a moonless night I counted sixteen shades of darkness. it is almost never totally black out here. Wind light. We could carry bigger sail. This is painless. Halfway tomorrow. February 28 South Atlantic Ocean: Saturday 0630 Wind light during the night and backed. I noticed something sticking out from the end of the boom, turned the flashlight on it and found a small brown petrel rocking back and forth on top of the end of the sail cover. When I jibed at 0330, he didn’t fly off, just turned to face into the wind. Gone when I got up a half hour ago. Was relatively tidy for a seabird and left only one mess on the deck. Have yet to check the top of the sail cover. Sailing at 5.2 knots around 285º. Thinking about bigger spinnaker. 1210 It is difficult to measure exactly the distance of a passage, but adding the first three week’s runs and the 32 miles we covered before noon on the first day out of Port Elizabeth, to the distance remaining to Road Town at the completion of our third week at sea two days ago, comes to a total of 6162 miles. The halfway point is when Road Town is 3081 miles away, which it will be within the hour. We will surely sail farther than 6162 miles, but to say we are halfway now is reasonably accurate. We still have the doldrums not far north of us to cross, but in my eleven previous crossings of the Equator, they have not slowed me much; and we should have a faster sailing angle once in the northeast trade winds. I measured some of my old passages on the electronic charts in this computer and found that the passage from New Zealand around Cape Horn to Punta del Este, Uruguay, which I have called 7,000 miles in fact measures about the same as this one. We certainly sailed at least 7,000 miles on that passage, when we were hard on the wind, even in the Southern Ocean where it should have been behind us, for 41 of the 58 days it took. Because of lows to the north of us, we had only one week of west wind south of 40º South all the way to Cape Horn. So depending on how one counts that passage, the present one is either tied with the passage from New Zealand to Uruguay for my third longest, or it is forth. It is certainly, thus far, much, much easier than that earlier passage. Noon: 09º 11‘ South; 20º 40‘ West. Day’s run: 118. Fernando de Noronha 768, bearing 295º. Road Town 3084, bearing 302º. Twenty-three days down; hopefully about twenty-three to go. 1310 Making 5 knots under genoa. Sky beginning to be covered by a veil of high cirrus cloud, but that is not the reason for the sail change. When I went on deck after lunch, I thought I saw two small rips near the head of the spinnaker, so I furled and lowered it, then brought it below to check out. I cranked as much tension on the halyard before furling the sail as possible, and perhaps that and the wind being light, the sail furled better than it usually does. The irony of my unwrapping it by hand in the cabin was not lost on me. I did find that the rips were rips this time. Stitched one by hand and then put a patch of self-adhesive sail cloth on it. Decided to use contact cement for a patch on the other side and for the other tear. Waiting for the adhesive to become tacky before putting the pieces together. 1620 Something radical has happened: the mainsail is set for the first time I think since we were off Cape Town. After glueing patches on both sides of both rips in the spinnaker, I noticed that the wind had backed far enough east for me to be able to set the main, which I have done. We are making 6+ knots still on a board reach, but with a wind angle of about 140º apparent, rather than 160º. Lovely smooth sailing. Going on deck to enjoy it. 2005 After watching the second episode in the Sharpe series–British Napoleonic War in Spain–I went back on deck again. First crescent moon and the evening star to the west. Sailing well under main and genoa. Mostly above 6 knots. I’ve even seen a rare 7. Boat has come to life. March 1 South Atlantic Ocean: Sunday 0550 I am letting us continue under main and genoa. Boat speed 6 and 7 knots. Wind light and seas less than two feet. We haven’t had a 6 knot day for two weeks. Sailing high, but probably compensating by more boat speed, and I am tired of ambling along at 5 knots. My experience of the doldrums is that they are always south of the Equator and have never much slowed me. I may just let us continue on this course all the way to the northeast trades. Along with this being a new month, there are several other minor milestones. We’ve reduced the distance to Road Town to less than 3,000 miles. Just a normal crossing of the North Atlantic from the U.S. to Europe left to do. Also will enter a new time zone some time today. About 30 miles to go, but with a course averaging 320º or higher will take a while to get there. And some time in the next few days we will cross the track Carol and I sailed in December 2001 between Dakar, Senegal and Salvador, Brazil. First light coming to the sky through the companionway. 0930 Hotter this morning, particularly until I opened the forward hatch. Was reluctant to do so until I was sure that we weren’t likely to scoop water over the foredeck. We are now closer to the Equator than we were in Bali. On THE HAWKE OF TUONELA the mainsail starts to blanket the jib at an apparent wind angle of about 145º. Sometimes we are doing that. And rarely the boat swings so far off the wind that mainsail backs and the boom would come across if I did not have a preventer on it. Woke to this at least once last night. I also have a third sheet on the jib, though I have changed from the remnant of the former spinnaker halyard to a more conventional and less strong line. I use high-tech, low stretch halyards, which on RESURGAM probably twice helped keep the mast up when standing rigging was damaged, but no longer for sheets. I found that such line is simply too strong and transmits all the considerable force from a sail collapsing and refilling to the boat and the rigging. Conventional line with more stretch helps cushion and dissipate such shock loads. We are sailing roughly at an apparent wind angle between 125º and 155º. Wind is nine or ten knots. Seas around 2‘ to 3’, with as usual a few bigger at intervals that are the cause of a sail backing. One of my routine morning tasks has been to move the boom from the starboard side of the cockpit to the port so it won’t block the sun from the solar panel. Realized this morning that with the mainsail set, I didn’t need to do that. 1220 Didn’t quite have a 6 knot day, but close. I suppose that we went too slow early yesterday afternoon and had a small dog leg with the change of course to the NNW. Until something happens to change my mind, I’m going to let us continue this way in the expectation of having a better wind angle in the Northeast trades. Pulled one of the foil pouches from the locker and found it to be salmon instead of tuna. A small, but welcome change. Same brand, but they don’t add sugar to salmon as they do tuna. Do add something called “a touch of vegetable broth,” whatever that may be. Noon position: 07º 27‘ South; 22º 15‘ West. Day’s run: 141. Fernando de Noronha 642 miles, bearing 290º. Road Town 2929, bearing 302º. Although the new time zone starts at 22º 30‘ West, I’m changing ship‘s time after completing this entry. We’ll be there sometime this afternoon. 1550 We’ve finally reached the new time zone: GMT -2. Two more to go and only four to Chicago, assuming we still live there. Carol may have taken a job in Boston. In which case only three hours difference. I’ll find out in a few weeks. Continuing almost north at more than 6 knots. Ran the engine for a half hour. Bathed in a bucket of salt water and used the last of the fresh in the shower bag to rinse. Finished reading a short biography of Charles Darwin, THE RELUCTANT MR. DARWIN, which was interesting except for frequent jarringly casual writing, as though it were intended for high school students. Perhaps it was. We just crossed 7º South. Wonder how far ahead the doldrums are? At better than 2º of latitude a day, we will be in the Northern Hemisphere in three days. Can’t count on that though. 1700 We are making 5.3 easy knots on course 302º under genoa alone. Obviously something happened to change my mind. Actually two things simultaneously. I was here in the cabin checking the pilot chart data in Visual Passage Planner, which gave me bad news–ahead of us are areas of 10% calm–when two 6’ waves caught the boat in rapid succession, backed the jib and would have the main except for the preventer. The sails refilled with explosions that made me wonder that they and the rig survived. This could not be allowed to continue. So on deck, down main, change course, jibe jib. Check rig. Fix dinner. March 2 South Atlantic Ocean: Monday 0620 There seems to be no way I can get the boat to sail properly right now. Last night we ambled along under the genoa alone, making 5 knots. By my own rules it might seem that I should have let us continue, but we weren’t really getting it done painlessly. An odd wave pattern, coming from the other side of the Equator, has kept us awkwardly rolling to windward. So this morning, after taking my second cup of coffee on deck and observing conditions–wind around 12 knots, seas mostly 3’ to 4’–I set the mainsail again. This has increased our speed, brought us up high of course, to the 320º and 330º range, though we are yawing at times all the way down to 300º and up to 345º, and the jib is still collapsing at intervals, even though I have partially furled it. About the only direction we can sail smoothly is due north, which I may end up doing. 10% calms means 90% wind, and if we do come to a dead stop, I can always go swimming. Turned off the chartplotter and instrument system last night to conserve batteries. Only turned it on again briefly a couple of times when I got up. 0710 I couldn’t let that continue. The jib was collapsing and filling, though usually without a bang, several times a minute. So mainsail down, and we continue under genoa alone, still 330º to 340º. 5.7+ knots. See how this goes for a while. Sunny, mostly clear sky. Was reminded of one of my own lines: Life is the process of turning baby smooth skin into scar tissue. Sometimes if the boat rolls as I am moving through the companionway I hit the shin of my left leg on the edge of the lower plexiglass insert. Always the same spot, which breaks the old scab and starts a new one. Must have done so this morning while coming below to cut some nylon webbing for a new mainsail tie, after one of the old ones broke. Leaning to reach over the sail I felt something wet running down my leg. Didn’t need to look to know what it was. Been a long time since I had baby smooth skin, and the scar tissue keeps increasing. That may be a good sign of being still active. 1210 Perhaps a transitional sky. Sunny, with low cumulus clouds that have more substance than usual trade wind cloud. Haze. Moisture in the air. Wind still about the same: 14-16 knots from the east. I’m letting the boat sail at whatever angle keeps the jib mostly quiet. SOG around 6 knots. COG averaging somewhere in the 320ºs. Did some exercises before lunch of cheese, crackers and Vegemite. Noon position 05º 38‘ South; 23º 49‘ West. Day’s run 144 miles (A phony 6 knot day because it was 25 hours.) Fernando de Noronha 523 miles, bearing 282º. Road Town 2812, bearing 301º. 1430 Hot and humid. Not too surprising almost on the Equator. Thermometer in cabin says 86ºF/30ºC. Feels hotter even with all the hatches open. Was just on deck, but not enough shade yet to sit there. Maybe in another half hour. 1745 Beautiful sailing these last few hours. SOG from 6.5 to 7.3. Since noon we’ve averaged a course of 324º, but have been around 315º since 1600. The sea could not be more confused. Waves and swells, none of them more than 5’ or 6’, are coming from the north, east, and south. I just came from sitting on deck with a sunset rum and tonic and I could not count all the constantly shifting, blending wave patterns. Fortunately none are coming from ahead of us and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA is sailing smoothly through them all. To the north of us is a cloud factory. In a thin white haze I could see clouds forming. Near the Equator warm moisture laden air rises, forms clouds that drift west and south in this hemisphere, drop that moisture on land, where it runs down to the sea again in rivers, is moved north by currents and the trade winds to near the Equator, where it rises again. THE HAWKE OF TUONELA is sailing where she wants to sail. I’d like to be on the direct heading for Road Town, and for the past few hours we haven’t been far off, but mostly she is going high. I’ll let her continue until we either come to a stop or reach the northeast trades or reach the latitude of Road Town, when I’ll jibe. Unless, of course, something happens to change my mind. I cut into my last lemon for this evening’s rum and tonic. Those lemons were bought five weeks ago tomorrow in Durban. As I have written before, time is an uneven medium and it seems much longer than five weeks ago that I was in Durban. Still the lemons have lasted longer than I expected. Probably can get a slice from this one for two more nights. March 3 South Atlantic Ocean: Tuesday 0545 Continued good sailing last night. After a Sharpe episode, I went back on deck with a cup of Lapsang Souchong tea and watched us sail toward the moon. Tried to get some photographs, but too much motion and not enough light even at ISO 6400. Turned off chartplotter and instrument system again last night. This will become standard until we are near land, which we might be in a few days. We are going to pass well outside of Fernando de Noronha, but are heading toward an even smaller obstacle, St. Paul’s Rocks, about 400 miles ahead. Averaging 6 knots since noon yesterday, but sailed sufficiently lower during the night to bring our average course down from 324º to 318º. Sky is light, but sun still below horizon. Haze of high cloud. Scattered other clouds forming. Barometer 1010. 1215 A legitimate 6 knot day, even with the wind weakening this past hour. We’ve moved beneath the haze and nascent clouds. Boat speed 5,3 and wind getting rolled from jib by 2’ swell. Did some exercises this morning, all but push-ups. Particularly need to use legs, which don’t get much use out here beyond climbing up and down the companionway ladder, and that is only five steps. Noon position: 03º 51’ South; 25º 28‘ West. Day’s run 146 miles. Fernando de Noronha 413, bearing 271º. Road Town 2672, bearing 300º. 1330 Although the sky ahead is unsettled and the genoa provides more flexibility, I’ve changed to the small spinnaker because the wind had grown so light it was too frequently being rolled from the genoa. Making 5.7 knots under small spinnaker, which went up without problems after my repairs a few days ago. We have passed under the sun and are now two degrees closer to the Equator than it is. Would have been directly overhead sometime yesterday. 1610 Under the clouds. A brief rain shower this afternoon, during which I took a salt water bath. Hoped the rain would rinse me off, but stopped. This is the doldrums, but we are still making 5 to 5.5 knots under small spinnaker in less than 8 knots of wind. When the rain started this afternoon it was hard enough so I had to close the hatches, which made the cabin intolerable. Haven’t used my small battery operated fans yet, but will get at least one out. Finished reading ONE STEP BEHIND, another Scandinavian police novel suggested by Amazon when I bought THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN. This one by Henning Mankell and also set in Sweden, though not Stockholm. Good enough to look for more of his books. Who would have thought there was so much crime in Scandinavia? 1830 Sky almost completely cloud covered at sunset. Some blue directly overhead, where now that it is dark the almost half moon can sometimes be seen. Rain ahead of us and to the northeast. While we have averaged 5 knots since noon, our speed now is around 4. Surprised it is even that because every swell collapses the spinnaker, which has wind in it only for a few seconds at a time. It fills and collapses several times a minute. 1900 Heavy rain falling. Boat speed 2.4 knots. I think it is going to be a long night. March 4 South Atlantic Ocean: Wednesday 0550 Powering. Engine on since 0330. Sky mostly overcast, but larger blue patches than last evening. Rain to east and north. Rain continued, mostly heavy, until 2030 last night. We sailed in many different directions at around 5 knots under the spinnaker. When the rain ended, I went on deck and furled and lowered it, setting first the genoa, then the mainsail as well. When I went to bed at 2200 we were making 5.5 knots on a beam reach to the northwest. That lasted an hour. For several hours we rolled around and did 2 knots, still mostly in the right direction, until at 0300 we were flat becalmed and I went on deck, furled the jib, disengaged the Monitor, set up the tiller pilot and started the engine. After it was running I lowered the main, which was still flopping. Usually it holds its shape under power, but the swells, although small, still collapsed the sail. I powered at 1800 rpm’s to keep the sound down while I managed to sleep. This gave us 4.2 knots. Got up twenty minutes ago and increased rpms to 2500 and our speed to 5.5. Course is 340º, trying to get north through this. Looks as though there might be a slight bit of wind. and after a cup of coffee I may raise the main. Left chartplotter and instrument system on last night because we were pointing every which way before I turned on the engine and autopilot. As I have said, the doldrums have seldom slowed me. In this same general area, Carol and I had one slow afternoon, and I told her that if we came to a complete stop I’d go over the side and clean the bottom, something I had not done in Dakar because the anchorage was too dirty; but we didn’t, and before midnight the wind came in from the southeast. If we still have no wind later today, I’ll go swimming and check THE HAWKE OF TUONELA’s bottom, though it was cleaned in Durban and the rudder, which is the only part I can see from the deck, looks good. Light rain just reached us. Had to close hatches. No rain after 2100 last night, so was able to leave companionway open. 0730 Sailing west, close-hauled port tack 3.5 knots under main and genoa. Just touched 4. Monitor steering. 0810 Rain to east and north. Clear to south and west. Our boat speed dropped to 1.8, then hovered around 2. In the past few minutes I could hear the boat start sailing again. Water begin to gurgle past the hull. Without my touching anything, we have come up 90º and, still close-hauled port, are now sailing 354º at 3.9 knots. Last night a bird, dark in color, perhaps something like a sooty tern, was sitting on the stern pulpit when I went up to lower the spinnaker. He stayed there, although I had my headlamp on and was at times only a few feet away, until when I raised the mainsail, he had enough, kwawked his displeasure and flew away. I didn’t see him again until this morning, when he was preening himself on the bow pulpit. Gone again. Just started raining. Because it is coming from ahead, I’ve been able thus far to leave the top of the companionway open. Boat speed up to 4.4. Glanced out, the darkest cloud has already passed to the west of us. Despite the rain, sky clearer ahead. Going to have to adjust our course. Now 015º. Don’t want to go east of north. 0900 Just eased sheets slightly, Sailing beautifully 344º to 350º at 6.5 knots in less than 8 knots true wind. Grey undulating sea. Clearing to east. 1010 Fell asleep for an hour and the wind vanished. Sky continues to clear. Sunny now. Still scattered clouds. Pointing northwest. SOG 1.5. 1115 Wind returned. Still less than 8 knots. No white caps. Have eased sheets slightly. Making 5.3 knots close-reach to north. A feeling that we have come out the other side, but may be premature. Won’t know until tonight or even tomorrow. 1210 Wind still light and from east, but veering. Line of big cumulus clouds on horizon to south. Clear ahead. SOG 5.1; COG 350º. But now on a beam reach. Just hope we can keep moving. Spinnaker and mainsail cover in cockpit drying. Were wet from rain last night. Noon position: 02º 49‘ South; 26º 25‘ West. Day’s run: 84. Fernando de Noronha 361 miles, bearing 261º. Doubt we will pass anywhere near it, so will not report again. Road Town 2591, bearing 299º. 1600 Fell asleep again this afternoon. We’re still making 4 knots. Saw a 5 briefly. Wind only six or seven knots. A nice afternoon if we keep moving. 1750 Sun about to set. There is so much moisture in the air that a rainbow has formed. No rain or even rain clouds, except probably to the south of us. A beautiful pastel world: grays, blues, muted yellows. THE HAWKE OF TUONELA is moving as well as she possibly can, making 4 to 5 knots in 5 or 6 knots wind more or less on the beam. To move this wind aft would be to lose it. I’m not concerned about an exact course, just keeping moving north. Ahead of us there are some nascent trade wind clouds and a low swell has come from the north. If we keep moving all night, I will think we are through the doldrums. But we could easily stop without warning at any moment. This is sailing by feel and balance, and at times I’m almost afraid to take a deep breath for fear it will throw us off course. Half moon over masthead. And a big fish leaping. I see only him in only brief glimpses, but he has a thick shining silver body and is at least three feet long. March 5 South Atlantic Ocean: Thursday 0610 Our course varied from 230º to 340º last night, and our speed from less than 2 to more than 8. At the moment we are making 2.9 on 310º, flopping around at the end of a third tropical deluge. Rain still falling, but tapering off. Just after midnight I was pleased to waken and feel us sailing well–we were making 6 knots–until I saw our course was 140º. I went on deck and reluctantly eased us off the wind until we were sailing about north. I thought about setting the big spinnaker to keep us moving that far off the wind. An hour later when heavy rain and wind struck us I was very glad I hadn’t. I had gotten back to sleep, but woke when we heeled far over. For a few minutes that was all. We were sailing smoothly at 7.5 knots. Then the wind increased, heeled us further and overpowered the Monitor. I went on deck and furled the jib. The moon had already set and I couldn’t see the sails. Furled by feel. A half hour later the rain had passed and I went back an unfurled the sail. Sky has lightened, but is completely overcast. Sun should be above the horizon. Hopefully some wind will re-establish itself soon. 0740 Complete low overcast and light rain continue. Wind has returned from north. We are sailing around 290º at 4.4 knots. Sometimes higher. I’d like to be up around 330º or 340º until we reach the northeast trades, but our present course is toward Road Town. 1100 Lay down to take a nap at 0930. Very broken sleep the past two nights. Had been asleep about fifteen minutes when the sound of rising wind woke me. Went to companionway where a dark line of rain was visible against the continued overcast. Partially furled jib. Then as wind blew harder, took in more, just before downpour. Also eased main traveler to leeward. Realized when I was back in cabin that I hadn’t moved lead forward on genoa track and that the engine control spray cover is not in place. Our speed rose above 7 knots and course to 325º. Heaviest rain and wind have passed. Now sailing around 295º at 5 knots. Rain and occasional waves have been the first water over deck in a long time, and they have exposed leaks. One bad one over the port quarter berth that I just can’t find the source of. One minor one over chart table. Another near the starboard chain plates that I thought I had fixed. Probably others. 1210 Raining moderately. It was lighter a half hour ago, and I went on deck, dried the engine instrument panel, sprayed the ignition switch with WD40, and put the spray guard in place. Also let out more jib and trimmed sails and adjusted Monitor. Have most of the jib out. We could carry it all and I may do that, but don’t think we’ll go much faster. Making 5 knots to the west close-hauled starboard tack. Complete low overcast sky. Barometer 1012. Noon position: 01º 44‘ South; 27º 23‘ West. Day’s run: 87 miles. Week’s run: 844 miles. Road Town 2508, bearing 299º. Total of day’s runs so far: 3681 miles. Adding distance to Road Town total passage will be at least 6189 miles. 1615 A day without sunshine on the Equator. We are 96 miles south of Equator, but sailing more west than north. I’d like to get north, but won’t sail east to do so. Although the sun has not broken through, the low overcast has mostly dissipated, leaving a view of higher clouds. Shades of gray, some splotches almost white, some ivory. The rain and wind ended at 1300. For a half hour we flopped about, heading southwest at 2 knots, but then I turned on the engine for 40 minutes, by which time wind had returned and we have sailed at 4 knots under full main and genoa, sometimes touching 5, toward Road Town since. I pumped a half bucket of water from the engine compartment and 1 ½ buckets full from the bilge. Was able to sit on deck for a while, and have the small hatch over where I am sitting on the port settee open, as well as the companionway. Several fish leaping around the boat. Wind from slightly east of north at 6-7 knots. Low swell from that direction. Cooler today. 79ºF. Fell asleep sitting up when I came back below. 2000 I didn’t see the sun, but I did see the moon. After dark the clouds thinned. I didn’t watch a Sharpe episode tonight, but took a drink and sat on deck and listened to music. The two biggest differences this year from last are that the big spinnaker has ben stitched and is useable and that the cockpit speakers are working. Of these, the cockpit speakers are more important. Music really matters, and being able to sit on deck, watch the boat and the moon and listen to music–tonight the soundtracks to ATONEMENT, OUT OF AFRICA and ONCE. The wind has weakened. There is a difference between the experience of sailing and movement toward a final destination. I want to get in. I want to know what Carol has done. I would like to be with her, to enjoy her quick wit, charm, intelligence, and lovely flesh. I would like some fresh food and cold drinks and a long shower. But there is great beauty here. I found I was watching the instruments too much, so I turned off them off and just enjoyed the sailing. Except in brief gusts before line squalls, the wind has been light for days. Yet there were 5’ swells this afternoon and now the sea is almost flat. Nothing more than 1’ Looking at the night sky, I don’t expect serious wind tonight. Obviously I’m tired. Going to sleep and see what the night brings. March 6 South Atlantic Ocean: Friday 0600 Tail feathers protruding over the edge of the dodger this morning. What appears to be the same hitchhiker as the night before found a more comfortable perch sometime last night. He had no fear of me. Perhaps had never been near or even seen a human before. Didn’t leave until I nudged him with a winch handle. Perfect night. Slept well. We continued close-hauled at 4 to 5 knots smoothly to the northwest all night. I woke only a few times and only got up at 0300 to look around briefly. Wind 6 or 7 knots from the north. No white caps. At times seems to be backing to the northeast, which is what I want. 0730 Crowded. First bird on dodger, then ship in ocean, and fish in sea. Took my coffee on deck. Tightened the jib sheet a few inches and eased the lead back a few inches, which brought our boat speed consistently above 5 knots. Sat down and saw a ship off to the west. She swung over to check us out and crossed a half mile ahead, heading northeast toward North Africa or Europe. Wind still mostly 6 and 7 knots. Occasionally a rare white-cap, indicating 8 knots, but not often. Generally low swells from the north, but a few were above my eye level, which with the boat heeled 10º and my sitting on the high side, means more than 6’. Although there is still a lot of haze around, the sky to the north and ahead is starting to look like a trade wind sky. Or so I’m trying to convince myself. Bigger cumulus clouds to the south. Taking some spray over the bow. Just as I was about to come below, being driven by the sun, the sea just ahead of us exploded white, as though breaking on a reef for twenty or thirty yards. A school of fish–not flying fish, but bigger–all leapt from the water at once. 0900 Already 84º, hotter than it was all yesterday. Can’t have forward hatch open, but do have small main cabin hatch open as well as companionway and fan turned on. Realized that the sun will pass south of me for the first time on the boat since late 2001 in Brazil. Found I have another leak near the middle of my bookshelf on the port side when I took out the book on New Zealand sea birds. Corner of it and two adjacent books wet. Don’t have any idea where that came from. The bird that has visited us looks like what is called a White-capped Noddy in New Zealand, a species of brown tern. Wind has decreased slightly. Boat speed down below 5 knots. 4.3 at moment. 1205 Some hazy clouds from the east are now overhead. Wind unchanged. SOG 4.2. COG 300º. Every once in a while we’ve swung up to 325º briefly. Noon position 01º 02‘ South; 28º 57‘ West. Day’s run 103 miles. Road Town 2406 miles, bearing 299º. 62 miles to winter. Doubt we will reach it tomorrow. 1720 Three things mark the beginning of the third and last phase of this passage. In mid-afternoon the wind veered 30º to the northeast and our course from 310º to 340º. The wind is no stronger than it was, but I think we are in the northeast trades which will carry us all the way to Road Town. And for that matter far beyond. I’ve adjusted the sails and we are sometimes making 5 knots on a close reach. Second is the Equator, which is now only fifty miles away. I don’t know that we will reach it tomorrow, but when we do it will be the first time I’ve sailed in the Northern Hemisphere since the passage Carol and I made from Dakar, Senegal to Salvador, Brazil in November/December 2001. Third is that I just used the last slice of the last lemon in this evening’s rum and tonic. Those lemons lasted over five weeks. I’m impressed. Took a salt water bath this afternoon. I probably have enough fresh water for at least a rinse, but didn’t. I have found that toweling off the salt water is good enough. I use two separate passage towels, one to dry from fresh water; one salt. Will change them tomorrow. Have spent most of the afternoon on deck, which is shaded by the mainsail. Have come below to heat dinner and am waiting for it to soak for the requisite ten minutes after adding boiling water. Rice and chicken. Will take it back on deck, where the remainder of my rum and tonic is waiting and music is playing on the cockpit speakers. At the moment Harry Belafonte singing “Try to Remember” from, I think, the long running off Broadway show, THE FANTASTICS. That my drink is sitting there unattended is a proof of how smooth the sailing is. Just before I came below I saw another ship passing far ahead on the western horizon. Looked like a big oil tanker, again heading from South America toward Europe. 2100 Beautiful on deck. Light from a waxing gibbous moon illuminated sails and deck and faceted seas. Wind the same. Swell lower. THE HAWKE OF TUONELA heeled 5º-10º to port gliding gracefully at 5 knots. Temperature pleasant. A third ship passed us. This one astern and heading south. When I first saw her, I got the binoculars and could make out both red and green running lights, which meant she was heading directly at us. I went below and got a screw driver and the engine key, removed the spray cover from the engine control panel and inserted key, but didn’t start the engine. The ship was still some distance away. I really can’t tell how far. Radar was useful for that. After a few minutes, her red bow light disappeared, which meant I was seeing just her starboard side and she would pass astern. She did within a mile, I think. I’m not sure what kind of ship she was. Her interior lights were close to the water. March 7 South Atlantic Ocean: Saturday 0550 THE HAWKE OF TUONELA has become a tern roost. He returned between 0000 and 0100, and is presently and wisely perched on the stern pulpit again. This is slipperier than the dodger, but perhaps he realizes that I won’t chase him from the pulpit. The sea and wind are about the same, but we are moving up and down on small waves and swells and from time to time he has to spread his wings to maintain balance. Assuming this is the same bird, he has followed up for more than three hundred miles. Light is coming to the sky. I’m curious as to how long he’ll stay this morning. Rested from the good sleep the night before and aware that I’m in, or was in, a shipping route, I got up more often than usual last night to look around, but didn’t see any more ships. THE HAWKE OF TUONELA has continued close reaching at around 5 knots on a course around 300º. We did pound off of one wave last night, but I can’t imagine where that came from. We continue to sail smoothly, though I may make some sail adjustments when it gets full light and a light rain falling from a cloud overhead stops. We might go just as well or even better with a roll or two in the jib. We’re 450 miles off the mainland of Brazil and just crossed between Fernando de Noronha 250 miles southwest and Saint Paul’s Rocks a little more than a hundred miles northeast. We are still 30 miles from the Equator. 0630 Trimmed sails in a bit. Increased boat speed to 5.5 to 6 range. Occasionally 6.1. The balance is so delicate that moving the Monitor control line a half inch, caused us to fall off 30º. Although there is obviously more wind, I don’t see any white caps, so still less than 8 knots. Maybe what earlier I thought was 6 and 7 before, was only 5. We are taking more spray over the bow and I’m not sure I can open the small hatch above me. Certainly won’t take the risk while this computer is on my lap and could get doused. A tern still sitting on a HAWKE. 0920 Ate breakfast on deck, watching the only substantial cloud around, which happened to be directly ahead of us. I thought it might bring a sharp increase in wind, but it did the opposite, created a hole in which we briefly slowed before it passed beyond us. At 0730 with a small kwawk, perhaps of thanks and good-bye, the tern flew off to work. Muggy, hazy morning. I’ve experimented with sail trim, including putting a couple of rolls in genoa, which dropped our boat speed below 5 knots. The wind has increased to 8 or 9 knots. Scattered white-caps. And maybe veered a few more degrees. But we continue on a very close reach at 5.5+ knots. 1210 Hazy clouds. A few brief showers of rain and slight increases in wind. One a half hour ago has headed us. Now sailing 270º at 4.6 knots. Expect it will come back. Having to have hatches closed, except for companionway protected by dodger, but though which the wind doesn’t blow when this far forward, is making it a hot, uncomfortable day. Have spent some time on deck. Have a few wraps in genoa, which need to come out. But no shade in the morning. Should be able to be out there more this afternoon. Noon position: 00º 15’ South; 30º 46‘ West. Day’s run 120 miles. Road Town 2288, bearing 299º 1715 Not a great day. Wind has backed to the north. We are close-hauled on starboard tack with three rolls in the jib, heeled 15º-20º, beyond 20º I reduce sail to get the boat back on her lines and make life aboard a little more acceptable. Wind not strong. Hasn’t been above probably 12 knots, and is now less; but spray over bow and choppier seas. Also low dismal haze most of day. Clearing some now just before sunset. Muggy. Occasional sprinkles of rain. I sat out in some of them–slightly refreshing–before being driven below. We continue making 5 to 5.5 knots more or less on course. Have sometimes been up to 6, but not usually. Am presently 3 ½ miles from the Equator. Was thinking about the bird who has spent three nights aboard. I am assuming it is the same bird and not three different who happen to look alike and chanced to stay on successive nights. We’ve covered hundreds of miles during that time. Yesterday between when I evicted him from the dodger and when he returned between midnight and 0100, we sailed 85 to 90 miles. I wonder how he found us on what was by then a moonless night. Impressive endurance and eyesight. Dinner of beef stroganoff soaking. Glass of chardonnay (from a box) on cabin sole by my feet. May take them outside and look for the Equator. 1855 North Atlantic Ocean. Crossed Equator for twelfth time at 1851 and Longitude 31º 19.365‘ West. Put a few more rolls in jib while I was on deck having a very interrupted dinner. Adjusted main and Monitor as well and got us sailing at 6 knots, which hasn’t happened for a while. Curious to see if low smoky clouds disappear after dark and if the tern returns for a fourth night. 2040 So what is on the Equator besides me? Going to the east: Gabon; The Congo; Lake Victoria; Nairobi, Kenya; Singapore; Borneo; Tarawa (scene of one of the major battles in the Pacific in WWII); the Galapagos Islands; Quito, Ecuador; northern Brazil and the mouth of the Amazon. ———- Spent some time on deck. I can feel the wind, which is not strong, but stronger than it was. I can feel it on my skin, in the sails of the boat, in the motion and heel of the boat, in her speed; but I can’t see it on the sea, which has nothing more than 1’ and 2’ waves, and occasional higher swells. Few white-caps. I’ve put two more rolls in the jib. We’re moving pretty well, though low of course. More in the 280ºs than the 290ºs. Not going to push hard to windward when I can’t believe the wind is going to remain north for the next two thousand miles. I wanted the wind to veer northeast and then strengthen. It has strengthened, but yet to veer. Moon more visible than was the sun. Some haze still lingers in the sky. March 8 North Atlantic Ocean: Sunday 0610 At just after 0100 I woke to the sudden sound of heavy rain on deck and the sudden feel of THE HAWKE OF TUONELA heeling over deeply as a squall hit us. I pulled myself from my bunk. We were sailing fast, but under control. I turned on the chartplotter and after a minute saw that we were making 7 knots on course 122º, back to the Southern Hemisphere and Cape Town. I didn’t think it would last long, so I let the squall play out, which it soon did with a huge bolt of lightning and thunder. The icon that marks our position and direction we are moving on the chartplotter began to turn north. When the rain was no longer torrential, I went on deck, made some adjustments to sails and Monitor and got us heading northwest on a beam reach at 4 knots. We more or less remained that way until an hour ago when the sails began to slat. I went on deck, furled the jib and started the engine, which I needed to do to charge batteries anyway. Couldn’t yesterday with us heeled over. With autopilot steering we are on 300º. The main is still up, and there seems to be some wind from the west. Sun has come up while I’ve been writing this and turned the clouds red. 0705 Sailing again. Tried a half an hour ago, but too little wind for left over swell, which is not large, only two to three feet, but collapsed sails. Wind now from northeast at five or six knots and we’re making 4.8 to 5 on a close reach. I’ve left the tiller pilot steering, but will soon change back to the Monitor. Sky around is dramatically cloudy. Some very dark to the southeast and west. A few small patches of light blue. I checked the pilot chart. Wind here is from northeast or east more than 80% of the time. ———- The tern didn’t follow us across the Equator, or he couldn’t find us in the squall. 1200 Sunny. Has cleared from east, but clouds still around and wind still very light from east. Making 3.1 knots with tiller pilot still steering. Cleaned galley more thoroughly than usual, including oven which I use for food storage. Rearranged provisions. I’ve eaten enough so that some bags are almost empty and need to be consolidated. Pumped ⅔ bucket full of water from engine compartment. See a drip at stern gland. Tried, briefly, to adjust it. Easier to live with it and pump a little every few days. At least for a while. Noon position: 00º 37’ North; 32º 14’ West. Day’s run: 102 miles. Road Town 2186 miles, bearing 299º. Boat speed now 1.6 knots. 1820 Sailing way too high, 338º at 4.7 knots, but that is better than not sailing at all, which is what we did most of the afternoon. A line of rain was just to the west of us, and sometimes the slightest wind blew from it and sometimes the slightest breeze blew into it. Sometimes we sailed. Sometimes we flopped around. Sometimes we powered. I checked the fuel tank and, as expected, we still have ¾ of a tank. I didn’t power to get anywhere, just to stop the boat rolling uncontrollably on swells. I suppose I should be glad the swells are there because they indicate there is wind somewhere. Mostly the tiller pilot steered for the obvious reason that I just looked over and with the Monitor steering we are now heading 004º. It actually is rather pretty outside now just after sunset. The clouds are well-defined, not hazy, and it is clearer to the east. The pilot chart shows almost no statistical likelihood that the wind we are having can be here. The line of rain has been diminishing for the past two hours. I hope it vanishes during the night and that the trade wind is reestablished. If we can’t sail somewhere between north and west, I will take down the sails and let us drift. Not going to power all night. An hour ago, when the engine was on, I heard an odd sound as though the propeller had hit something. I was in the cabin and went to the companionway where I looked aft to see if there was some floating debris. Instead I saw a shark somewhat bigger than I am take a fish just below the surface of the water and just off the stern. Course now is 008º. Because I hope and expect that the wind is going to veer northeast, going and deck and tack. 1845 That didn’t work. Ended up sailing southwest. Tacked back. Can’t point within 270º and 360º. Presently sailing 003º, which is a mere 64º high of our desired course. Going to watch a Sharpe episode and hope the wind changes before it is over. 2035 Sails down. Becalmed. 2200 Still becalmed. Just on deck. Moon overhead behind thin cloud. No sign of wind. Seas down. Boat not rocking too severely. Going to try to get some sleep. March 9 North Atlantic Ocean: Monday 0530 Sailing again since 0145. I woke several times before I felt a slight breeze at 0130. Turned on chartplotter and instrument system and saw that it was coming from the northeast. Also saw that we had made 24 miles since noon. In good moonlight–it was in fact a beautiful night, with a clear starry sky above an almost smooth sea with only slight ripples–I untied the tiller and engaged the tiller pilot, which I had left on deck–and raised the main, which I had left as it fell without sail ties except for one securing the head and halyard. As it went up, it filled and I heard water begin to gurgle past the hull. Until then I wasn’t certain that we could sail. With the main raised, I adjusted the course on the tiller pilot, then unfurled the jib, and we were moving smoothly at 4 knots toward Road Town on a beam reach. Went back to bed at 0200. Got up a half hour ago. Wind has filled and we are now making 6.6 knots. Still dark outside. With first light I’ll check sail trim and change from tiller pilot to Monitor, to conserve power and because the Monitor is more powerful. There are autopilots powerful enough to handle this boat, and with accessories that enable them to steer courses to wind angle as well as compass course, or for that matter to be interfaced with a GPS and steer to a waypoint, but they require much more electricity than I am willing to generate. Great to be sailing well again. Great to be sailing again. 0630 From becalmed to perfection. Took my first cup of coffee on deck. Having my second now. Switched from tiller pilot to Monitor, made minor adjustments to sail trim, and then just enjoyed the music of a boat making her way through the sea. We’re just forward of a beam reach. Wind around ten knots. Waves 1’ to 2’, with as always a few larger swells. Some cloud about, both high and low. I expect the low will burn off with the sun. Don’t see any rain. Boat heeled 10º to port. Boat speed 6.6+. Have seen the occasional 7. Wouldn’t mind if it stayed this way for a while. 1100 When conditions are perfect, and these have been, you don’t want any change. Some low clouds have formed. So far wind is the same and we’re still making the same speed, same course. I am entitled to northeast to east wind. I have definitely paid the price of admission. And I’m going to be unhappy if I don’t get it. Not that that makes any difference. Took advantage of the smooth motion and steady angle of heel to make another attempt at tightening the prop stuffing box. Successful this time, largely due to a new big ViseGrip wrench that I saw in a Home Depot and bought for this very purpose. Doesn’t work exactly like other, smaller ViseGrips, but got the job done. I do have a stuffing box wrench, but it is not effective. 1215 Clouds passed without much change. Wind may be slightly weaker, but still making 6 knots on course. Sunny. Barometer 1012. Noon position: 01º 25’ North; 33º 23‘ West. Day’s run: 85 (surprisingly high considering only 24 miles until 0100), Road Town 2102, bearing 299º. 2030 Sailing under the full moon, or almost, is a great pleasure. In late afternoon, the wind weakened, but it has increased again after a pastel sunset. The odd thing is that the sea is just as it was two and three days ago. Only 1‘ and 2‘ waves and few and usually no white-caps The difference is wind angle. Then we were almost close-hauled. Now we are almost on a beam reach. THE HAWKE OF TUONELA is moving well. The moon is like a spotlight, illuminating her white deck and sails and wake. ———- I’ve been thinking about the shark yesterday. Glad for many reasons that the wind returned at 0130, among them that if we had remained becalmed I would have wanted to go for a swim, but we then were only a few miles from where I saw the shark. In reconstructing the sounds, I think the shark made a pass at a fish swimming near THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, although I haven’t seen any lately. And the fish while dodging the shark swam into the spinning propeller and was injured or stunned, becoming easy prey. The shark turned almost lazily onto its side as it took the fish. I saw its wide mouth clearly. March 10 North Atlantic Ocean: Tuesday 0625 Slow coming awake this morning. This is our last day in this time zone, and I don’t think the sun is yet above the horizon. Some cloud in that direction, though mostly clear, except for high haze that I expect will burn off. Continued sailing well last night. One fifteen minute episode at 0030 of rain and wind that turned us to the north and then returned us to our proper course. Wind a little stronger this morning. Boat speed in high 6s and often touching 7 knots. When I got up to look around at 0400, I turned on the chartplotter and Road Town was 2003 miles away. Now 1988. If this wind holds, and it might, it even should, we will be there in two weeks. 16º of latitude and 30º of longitude to go. 0800 Had my second cup of coffee on deck. Taking too much water over bow to stay there long. Adjusted trim of Monitor and sails. Moved Monitor chain one link to windward to give it more leverage. Took three wraps in genoa. Still same speed, but heeled less and moving through 3’ waves more smoothly. Heeled 10º to 15º. Can’t have deck hatches open because of spray. Also put spray cover back over engine panel. Sun shines directly through companionway in morning, so have moved to other end of settee and am facing forward instead of aft. Hot on my back. 1215 Wind has veered a few more degrees. We are just forward of a beam reach. Some thin haze. Only a few scattered clouds. Wind 14-16. Seas 3’. Did some exercises this morning. Particularly trying to use legs. Had first good day’s run in a while. Noon position: 02º 39’ North; 35º 33‘ West. Day’s run: 150. Road Town 1952 miles, bearing 299º. 1640 Took my usual three bucket bath this afternoon in the cockpit. One bucket of sea water to bath in. Two to rinse off. I have a line on the bucket that I hook to the lifeline before I drop it over the side. The tug when it fills is impressive, particularly at 6 or 7 knots. Actually I seldom get more than ⅔ of a bucket onto the boat. Bars of soap don’t usually lather in salt water, but most shampoos do. Changed into my last pair of clean passage shorts. Haven’t run out before. This is a sweaty place and these won’t last for the duration. I have several pair of ‘good’ shorts aboard. Not really much difference between my ‘good’ clothes and my passage clothes. Some haze and a few clouds with fuzzy edges, but mostly sunny and we continue to sail at 6.5+ knots. After my bath, I was able to sit on deck for an hour without getting too much additional unwelcome salt water rinse, and saw mostly 7 knot speed then. In very light winds, being close-hauled is perhaps the best point of sail because of the increase in apparent wind. In more than 25 or 30 knots, a very broad reach is best. But in between, a beam reach or just forward as we are now or just aft, is fine sailing. THE HAWKE OF TUONELA is moving well and scaring a lot of flying fish. 2040 For now my world is of sea and wind and sky. I’ve just been on deck, listening to Faure’s REQUIM accompanied by sloop’s wake. I’m sure you caught the play on requiem and wake. If you know Faure’s REQUIM, then you are aware that it is a serene and quiet work that I wasn’t certain would carry above the boat’s motion through the sea, but it did. Lovely beneath the light of a full moon. Sunset was identical to sunrise: a pale yellow disc through haze. I took some photos of the rise; no need to do so of the set. Three birds hunted around us at sunset. One of them, perhaps a booby with brown and white markings, was very active. He dove and caught a fish directly in front of us. I thought we might run him down before he swallowed and took flight again. We are 400 miles north of Fortaleza, Brazil. One of the facts of geography that surprises me is how far east Brazil extends, but then if it didn’t the people would not speak Portuguese. The wind has decreased and/or veered since sunset and we are now on a beam reach, which has reduced the spray coming over the foredeck, and made it possible for me to sit on deck without getting wet. On CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE I used to fear a wave breaking over me just after dark because it meant that I would spend the whole night wet. March 11 North Atlantic Ocean: Wednesday 0550 New time zone. Just changed clocks. Now -3 GMT. Only one more to go. It is not odd that we are going faster, possibly on a pace for a 7 knot day. What is odd is that the sea doesn’t reflect the stronger wind and looks about the same. Some white-caps and 3’ waves. Quite probably we are getting a boost from a current that runs northwest along the Brazilian coast. But I was on deck at 0200 reducing sail because we were heeled over too far. I furled the jib twice before I got us back to an acceptable angle, without our boat speed dropping below 7 knots. Presently 7.6 on course. Apparent wind angle with stronger breeze again a close reach. Sky hazy as yesterday morning. Very impressive to be moving this fast with this little fuss. 1205 A 7 knot day: 168 miles in 24 hours; 175 in 25. Wind has veered a few degrees . Again on a beam reach. Only disadvantage is that when a wave comes aboard now it does so amidships, rather than near the bow as on a close reach. Not sure I’ll be able to spend much time on deck this afternoon. Sky hazy. Seas 3’-4’. White caps. Barometer 1013. Noon position: 04º 06’ North; 38º 05‘ West. Day’s run: 175 (25 hours). Road Town 1777, bearing 299º. ———- Finished the 1.5 kilos of oatmeal this morning. Lasted 19 days, with a fraction leftover. Started new measurement with a one kilo/2.2 pound package. 1600 Ah, it brings a smile to my face: the way of a boat through the water. An hour ago I dug some shorts from the laundry bag that I didn’t care if they got wet and took a beer on deck. Was cool up there in the breeze and the shadow of the mainsail, so I came back down for a dirty tee-shirt as well. I didn’t try to sit on the side deck where I usually do in a Sportaseat, but took a small closed cell cushion and leaned against the mainsheet traveler that divides THE HAWKE OF TUONELA’s cockpit designed for racing. Forward of the traveler is for the crew to man the winches and trim sails; aft the helmsman. And so it is on HAWKE. The crew–me–stays forward and trims the sails; the helmsman, usually the Monitor, but sometimes the Simrad tiller pilot stays aft and steers. And we don’t get in one another’s way, though I did go aft and sit on the stern pulpit for a while this afternoon. Naturally I had music on: Hayley Westenra. Stood mostly, remained dry, watched THE HAWKE OF TUONELA sail smoothly at 7+ knots. Hazy, cloudless blue sky. Wind around 16 knots. Less than it was earlier. Our angle of heel is down to 10º. Lovely. 2000 After dinner–sweet and sour lamb–obviously one of my freeze dry meals from New Zealand–and this evening’s Sharpe episode, Sharpe’s Siege, I took a small glass of Jamesons and resumed my place braced against the mainsheet traveler. Full moon. Hazy sky with a few scattered smudges of cloud. Seas that I would call slight or at most moderate. I keep thinking I should set more sail, but we are making high 7s and often 8 knots, and we really can’t go much faster. The wind is only 14 or 16 knots, but that is what most boats are designed for. We just have optimum conditions. Beautiful out there. I know such nights are numbered and I cherish them. I have seldom had more than 180 mile days. In RESURGAM I had a few 200 mile days in the same place, near the Equator in the Pacific on the passage from Panama to the Marquesas on successive circumnavigations. And on the same point of sail, a close reach. In a few months we’ll see what THE HAWKE OF TUONELA can do there. Solo racers in boats costing millions go much, much faster; and I sometimes find myself thinking what I could have done with a boat like that. But the more important point may be what I have done with boats that sail well, but cost little. Boats by themselves are like water without wind: inert. It is the sailor and the wind. March 12 North Atlantic Ocean: Thursday 0550 Wind decreased during the night. Awoke at 0230 because motion, which was not rough, had become too smooth. Turned on chartplotter and verified that our SOG had dropped below 7, so went on deck and unfurled some jib. When I got up a half hour ago, unfurled the rest. I’ve gotten used to seeing 7 knots, but don’t know how long we can maintain it. Seas are lower, less than 3’, and on the beam. Some spray near bow, but no water coming aft for a while. Might be able to take a cup of coffee and sit on deck, which would be nice. Some scattered dawn clouds. Saw a cockroach this morning. Didn’t have spray at hand, and he successfully scurried out of sight. Removed some items from the shelf and sprayed the area. Only second one of passage and first for a week or so. Hoping it is the last. 0900 Sunnier and hotter than yesterday. Trade wind sky. Wind has veered to where it is now just aft of the beam. Usually I’ve had the small hatch above me open, but getting the odd drop of spray, so closed it while I have the computer on my lap. Harder to get boat balanced in these conditions than past few days. Sometimes yawing off to 270º, Sometimes up as high as 330º. Still fine sailing and still averaging 7 knots in the right direction. Re-reading James Clavell’s SHOGUN. Read it when it first came out more than thirty years ago. A good mid-passage book. Long–1150 page–keeps interest and can easily be interrupted. Some inexcusable solecisms, such as his writing about a ship ‘keeling over.’ Ships don’t keel over, drunks do. Ships heel over. Just came across a comment about sailors going barefoot. I don’t. I almost always wear shoes on deck and usually even in the cabin, particularly when I’m doing something that requires both hands, such as shaving. I find I have better traction in shoes; and in RESURGAM days when I used to go barefoot, I once broke my little toe against a chainplate while running forward to let go the anchor. Once was enough. Flew from Evanston two months yesterday. Sailed from Durban six weeks yesterday. From Port Elizabeth five weeks today. Making an effortless 7.3 knots on course for the moment. 1205 Beautiful trade wind day. Blue sky, scattered puffs of cloud, sparkling blue sea. Wind a bit lighter, but still making about 7 knots under full genoa and main, though often dropping into the 6s, and I doubt we will have a third successive 7 knot day. Exercised. Pumped a couple of buckets full of water from bilge. Noon position: 05º 27‘ North; 40º 33‘ West. Day’s run: 169 miles. Week’s run: 904 miles. Almost 500 of which came these last three days. Road Town 1609 miles, bearing 299º. Adding daily runs, so far we’ve sailed 4585 miles. Adding distance to Road Town passage will be at least 6194 miles, five miles more than a week ago. We are sailing parallel to and five hundred miles off the South American coast as it trends from the eastern bulge of Brazil to the Caribbean. Lunch was my last can of New Zealand tuna with crackers, a can of Lipton Green Ice Tea, and dried mango slices from South Africa for dessert. I also ate a protein bar this morning as a supplement. Missing something fresh. 1600 Wind down to around 10 knots and boat speed sometimes below 6. More pleasant than yesterday–able to sit on deck and remain dry, have forward hatch open, heeled less–but not as exciting. And yesterday was by no means rough. In fact it is difficult to imagine consistently doing 7 knots more effortlessly. 1930 Wind increased just before sunset. Perhaps 14 to 16 knots, and our SOG again to 7. Full moon now just above horizon. THE HAWKE OF TUONELA moving easily. About to go on deck and listen to some music. March 13 North Atlantic Ocean: Friday 0700 Been trying ever since I got up and hour and a half ago to get the boat back in the groove. The wind swung back and forth during the night. When I got up after midnight, we were 20º too high, so I made adjustments. When I got up at 0300 we were 20º too low, so I made adjustments. When I got up at 0530, we were again 20º too low. The problem is that when we are on course, the wind is on the beam, but the waves, still only 2’-3‘ are slightly aft of the beam. I put a couple of rolls in the jib, and seem for the moment to have us making 7 knots without yawing more than 10º. I weigh about 1% of what the boat does: 156 pounds to a designated displacement of 14,000, plus the weight of the stuff I have put aboard, which in total doesn’t add up to more than this boat would have with a full racing crew of eight aboard. Nevertheless, at times THE HAWKE OF TUONELA is so finely balanced that my moving, even just the three steps from where I am sitting on the settee berth to the companionway, can throw her off. Not often, but sometimes. I want a boat that sensitive, that responses well to sail trim, that I can feel; and that is the price to be paid. Other than the slight shift in wave direction, conditions are the same. Wind 12 to 14 knots. Sunny. Scattered high clouds. SOG around 7 knots. There are a lot of flying fish in these waters, and there were a lot on deck last night and this morning. A few as long as 5”, most smaller. Flying fish scales were on the top of the dodger, which is 7‘ above the water. An impressive leap. A large brown and white bird, something like a booby, with a small patch of black feathers above each eye that makes him appear worried, is hunting around us. 1230 Almost completely clear blue sky. Just a few widely scattered puffs of cloud, more to the south of us than the north. Sparkling blue sea, sprinkled with white-caps. Wind 12 to 14 on the beam. Making 6.5 to 7 knots on course under full sail. Noon position: 06º 50’ North; 42º 54‘ West. Day’s run: 163 miles. Road Town 1446 miles, bearing 299º. 1800 Just as I went on deck at 1500, the wind picked up and water began to come onto the deck. I stood leaning against the traveler for a while and then came back below. I left the small hatch over me open for ventilation, and, as was inevitable, a wave finally caught me. No damage done. Nothing important got wet, only me and a few books. In the course of the afternoon I’ve furled the jib, which is now about half size. We’re doing 7 knots somewhat high of course. Just went to the companionway to check conditions, and a flying fish flashed by, bounced off the clear plastic front of the dodger and kept on going, re-entering the water on the other side of the boat. COG IS 324º. That really is too high. Going to have to adjust something. Water splashing into cockpit. March 14 North Atlantic Ocean: Saturday 0630 Deck bejeweled with tiny flying fish this morning. Dozens of them. Silver and blue. Last night just before I went to sleep a wave came aboard with solid water. Perhaps it carried them as well. I woke at 0300 to find us moving too slowly, so went on deck and completely unfurled the jib. When I got up an hour ago, I discovered that the wind had veered 30º in the intervening hours, so went on deck and re-trimmed sails and Monitor for a broad reach. Actually the first thing I did was clear the cockpit and deck of flying fish. There are still a few white-caps, so wind is around ten knots, and we are making 6 to 6.5 on course. Sky clear, except for three or four clusters of low cumulus clouds, one of which to the north of us may have rain. Sun may burn it away before it reaches us. Had my first cup of coffee on deck. Hatch above me open. Can probably open forward one as well. 1220 Clouds brought no rain, but moved wind back and forth and up and down. In the end, pretty much as it was to begin with. Beam reaching under full main and partially furled jib at 6.3 knots. Sunny. Wind 14 to 16 knots. Seas 3’. Barometer is up to 1015. Did some exercises, shaved, finished SHOGUN. Remembered an old solar shower bag that has a slow leak and filled it with salt water at the galley pump, then put it on deck, where it has indeed leaked. Doesn’t matter with salt water. I’ll add some more. In addition to having a warmer shower, though the ocean temperature is refreshing, this may solve the problem of bouncing the bucket against the hull as I raise it. We’ll see. I find that I am thinking as though this passage is almost over, when in fact we have 1300 miles to go which is more than a passage across the Tasman Sea from New Zealand to Australia or in the South Pacific from Fiji to New Zealand. There is a decided difference in that our last 1300 miles are all in the trade winds and those others are across changeable weather patterns. Nevertheless we do still have a distance to go. Expect we will be in a week Monday. I expected to average at least six knots once we reached the Northeast trade wind because of the consistency of the wind and the angle. Noon position: 08º 15‘ North; 45º 02‘ West. Day’s run: 153 miles. Road Town 1298 miles, bearing 298º. 1615 My salt water solar shower was a success. Much easier than having to drop a bucket over the side, particularly the second and third time when I’m soapy and slippery. Leaving the bag in the sun for just a half an hour was enough to make the water pleasantly warm. Also a better rinse. Don’t know why I never thought of this before. A line of clouds is passing, disturbing the wind. Nothing significant. Have three rolls in the genoa. Have had it furled to half size and also had it out completely since noon. Was able to sit on deck for an hour. May go back out again. Had to toss more flying fish overboard and need to sweep flying fish scales from cabin sole. 1800 The sea is more lively than it has been. Waves no higher than 4’–I don’t actually recall when I last saw a wave worthy of the name–but moving more quickly, and there is a cross sea, which we have not had. It comes from the southwest and that is hard to understand, when there is only the South American continent in that direction, which would be a five hundred mile rebound. We are nearing the end of Brazil and will soon have French Guiana abeam. Nevertheless waves from the northeast are leaping against waves from the southwest. THE HAWKE OF TUONELA is making her way through this, kicking up spray. I stood with my second to last rum and tonic–the last will be used to celebrate having less than 1000 miles to go, presumably Monday–in the cockpit, leaning against the traveler, enjoying the sloop’s powerful motion, and got splashed a couple of times before returning below to my dinner of chicken stew. March 15 North Atlantic Ocean: Sunday 0610 The slaughter of the innocents continues. More flying fish in the cockpit this dawn than I can count at a glance, and others on deck. A few flying fish on deck in the tropics is common, but I don’t recall this many. Stepped on one I didn’t see when I went on deck to put a few rolls in the jib last night. Knew from the smell immediately. Watched the last of the Sharpe series last night. In the end I didn’t really care for it. Written too much to a formula of arrogant and incompetent noble officers who bought their commissions and made life hard for Sharpe, who had risen from the ranks. Also some characters just acted too stupidly for me to have any belief or sympathy. In this I am not thinking of Sharpe, but his second wife. Won’t watch those again. Opened the small hatch above me and read after putting the computer away and was again caught by a wave. We are past the center of the time zone. Sun just coming above the horizon. Conditions the same. Making 6.8 about on course. 0910 Seeing mostly 7s in SOG this morning. There is a bit more wind, perhaps 16 or 18 knots, and a 6’ swell at long intervals from the north. Some high cirrus cloud in addition to the low scattered cumulus. After spending some time on deck, standing not sitting, and shoveling flying fish back into the ocean, where they will make a meal for somebody before they reach the ocean floor, I came back below and closed the small hatch above me. No water had come below, but it was just a matter of time. A six knot average will see us there a week tomorrow. 6.6 would probably see us in a week this late afternoon. Barbados is less than 800 miles away and Trinidad not much further. I’ve never been to either, but have some favorite snorkeling spots in the Virgins, so will probably continue the three extra days. Being only three, or possibly two, hours ahead of Carol, instead of a day as I usually am, I more easily can picture what she is doing with her day. At the moment she is almost certainly still asleep. I have an old copy of Reed’s Nautical Almanac on board which tells me that the current that is giving us a boost is called the South Equatorial Current, good for somewhere between 10 and 40 miles a day. I think we have gotten at various times perhaps .3 to .5 of a knot. Seem to be getting enough charging from the remaining solar panels to keep the batteries up. I move the big one from the starboard to the port side of the cockpit at noon to give it maximum exposure. Also am careful about using the computer on its own battery, rather than have it plugged in and charging all the time. Would have to slow up to run engine, furl at least the genoa to bring us level enough. Even though this has been a relatively easy passage, I still have to constantly brace myself with hand or foot while standing. Even with fan on me, hot and sweaty, just sitting here. 1205 Wind has decreased slightly and I usually have the small hatch over me open, except now that I have the computer on my lap. Otherwise conditions the same. Sunny. Hot. Beam reaching from 6.5 to 7.2 knots. Barometer 1018. This morning the boat smelled like a fish factory. Sun seems to have killed the smell, or perhaps I’ve just gotten used to it. Noon position: 09º 31’ North. 47º 17‘ West. Day’s run: 158 miles. Road Town: 1140 miles, bearing 298º. Now I can open hatch again. 1530 Was just standing in the companionway under the dodger, looking out at the sea. Can’t sit on deck. Tried after my salt water solar shower. We were tearing through the water at 7.5 knots, taking a lot of spray over the bow, and I knew it was just a matter of time before a wave came aboard right where I was sitting. So, reluctantly, I came below. The predicted wave swamped the deck a few minutes later. I would rather do six knots, get in a week tomorrow, and have dry decks; but I can’t bring myself to deliberately slow down 1100 miles out, when we are sailing so well. I’ll go out again and stand, leaning against the mainsheet traveler, at sunset. The hatch over me is closed. 1720 I did go out, but didn’t make it to sunset which will be in a few more minutes. We are in a groove, but a wet groove. Averaging 7 knots since noon. Saw 8 briefly while on deck. THE HAWKE OF TUONELA is moving beautifully. For my efforts I got salt water in my sauvignon blanc. Not enough to do it any harm. This is boxed, not vintage; and I probably would have drunk it even if a flying fish had landed in the glass. Well, maybe not a big flying fish. 2015 Wind picked up after sunset and is stronger now than it has been for quite a while. Furled jib to about half size. May reduce it more. Considering lowering mainsail. Leak around starboard chainplates and also around the new small hatch, which as far as I can tell is the seal on the hatch itself. Disappointing. Going to put computer away and see what I can do to get boat sailing smoothly again. March 16 North Atlantic Ocean: Monday 0630 Once I got on deck last night I realized that the wind had become serious. With it just forward of the beam, I am reluctant to lower the main completely, and it was easier to furl the jib down to a scrap, less than storm jib size. Even with this, we continued making 7 knots and taking enough water over the deck so that eventually I had to put up the plastic canopies at both the foot of my bunk, for drips from the small hatch, and over the head for drips from the companionway. First time this passage. I got up at intervals and found conditions unchanged, until after 0400 when the wind seemed to have diminished slightly. I suppose that it was 25 to 30 during the night. With dawn the seas, too, have diminished and are again mostly around 4’. I have unfurled a little more of the jib. Now perhaps storm jib size. And we continue making 6.5 to 7+ knots. A thicker bank of cumulus cloud to the east and a high film of cirrus. Barometer 1017. Only four small flying fish in the cockpit this morning, despite all the water over the deck. On our present course we will make landfall around Antigua. I would rather stay to windward of the islands before the Virgins where the wind will be undisturbed, and have put a waypoint just off Barbuda, to the north of Antigua, which is now 850 miles ahead. 0940 Busy, hot, sweaty morning. Usually I can see solar charging begin on two different meters in the cabin not long after the sun rises. This morning I didn’t. I waited until 0800, by which time I knew something was wrong. Quickly found that the wires had pulled from the plug on the big solar panel. Took a while to disassemble and reassemble it, but when I did all is well. Let out a little more jib. We are still making 6.5 to 7+ relatively smoothly and without taking too much water on deck. Sunny, with high haze. Wind about 20 knots and seas 4’-5’. Pumped about four buckets ¾ full from the bilge. Almost nothing in the engine compartment. Shaved. Went on deck where I was chilled by wind evaporating sweat. 1205 Except that the wind is a bit stronger, conditions much as they have been. Noon position: 10º 58’ North; 49º 35‘ West. Day’s run: 162. Road Town 979 miles, bearing 297º. Barbuda is 815 miles, and Barbados just under 600. In the past seven days we have made 1130 miles. 1800 The wind and waves have decreased during the afternoon. I was about to go on deck earlier when an errant wave smashed into the hull and inundated where I would have been sitting; but I have stood leaning against the traveler at various times, most recently just now with my last rum and tonic to celebrate less than a thousand miles to go. I hesitate at ‘celebrate’ for while I do want to get in, as I always do toward the end of a passage, it is perfect out here right now and I am enjoying it. Whenever our SOG has dropped below 6.5 I’ve added more jib. We could carry it all, but I still have a few rolls in because the boat seems better balanced that way. Saw a big flying fish which caused me to realize that I haven’t seen others this afternoon. Also three birds in the distance. THE HAWKE OF TUONELA sails on. March 17 North Atlantic Ocean: Tuesday 0645 A pleasure to be able to sit on deck with my first cup of coffee this morning. Line of rain to the north of us is affecting the wind. Sailed all night with a few rolls in the jib at near 7 knots. Since I got up an hour ago, our speed dropped to below 6 knots, so unfurled jib completely. Then saw whitecaps and wind coming in front of rain clouds as I expected, so put some rolls back in. Now doing 6.6 knots with rain almost upon us. This is our last day in this time zone, so the sun didn’t come up until 0630. Facing west I saw the gray clouds begin to change color. Peach usually comes first. Only three flying fish on deck this morning. One eating size, if I were given to do that. I like fish, but am not about to go to the mess of cooking one, particularly not for breakfast. After watching THE COTTON CLUB last night, which had a good cast and was better than I expected, I went back on deck and stood, balancing with the boat in the darkness, just enjoying sailing across an almost unseen sea and beneath a starry sky. 0830 More than just a single line of cloud. First light wind pushed us off to the west, then strong. Had to go out and furl the jib down to storm jib size. Again on course and making 7.5+ knots. Low clouds cover most of the sky. No solar charging. Don’t mind running engine, which I don’t think I’ve done for more than a week, but will have to figure out how to get the boat level enough to do so. At much of an angle of heel you run the risk of the oil not circulating properly. I’ve known of engines that have seized that way. On the plus side, the clouds are keeping the morning cooler. Must have lurched into something. Pain in lower left side. Don’t remember any particular incident. Not severe. But I feel it with each roll of the boat. 0920 Clear overhead, but rain just north and east of us. Just on deck and noticed that one strand is broken on the starboard lower diagonal shroud, which is one of those replaced in Durban. This, of course, is the one which will be to windward the rest of the passage. Could be a serious problem. Will have to go up mast and jury rig something if another strand breaks. Jerking around as we are at the moment with too little wind for the swells is the worst thing for it. 0100 Late lunch. Rigged my Mast Climber, furled jib, turned boat off the wind, still way too much motion for me to try to climb except in a dire emergency. Need hands to hang on to mast to keep from swinging, and need hands to operate friction clamps on mast climber. Not enough hands. Strand is broken at the swage at the lower end of shroud, which causes me to think swage was not done properly. Assuming we make it in with mast standing, I will have the replacement made with a Norseman or similar fitting instead of a swage. Clearing. Still some clouds around, but no rain, and blue sky overhead. Making 7 knots smoothly in right direction under main and partially furled jib. Noon position: 12º 29’ North; 51º 44’ West. Day’s run: 155 miles. Road Town 825 miles, bearing 296º. 1715 We still have a few miles before we enter the new time zone, but I just changed the clocks. In doing so, my computer told me that the U.S. has gone on daylight time, and so there is now only one hour difference between ship’s time and Chicago and none between ship and Boston. Odd not to know where I live. I am not going to drive the boat hard and so have the jib more deeply furled than it should be, but we still have averaged 7 knots since noon, fortunately smoothly. A pretty and dramatic sunset, with big cumulus clouds highlighted by the sun. To the north it looks as though rain is falling from one. Rain did drive me back below this afternoon when I was sitting on deck after my salt water shower. Did not last long, but I stayed below and continued reading a novel about Frank Lloyd Wright that Carol recommended. Adding the last seven day’s runs today gives us a slightly higher total than yesterday: 1135. 1800 No movie tonight. Sky too unsettled. Heavy rain just to the north will be upon us in minutes. Also rain to the southeast. Only good news today, if it can be considered good, is that during this morning’s rain I studied the drips from the new small hatch above me and am relatively certain that the water was not coming from the hatch, but from around the mast and then along the overhead until it dropped from around the hatch. The hatch may still be leaking, but not this morning. Speaking of that leak, I’m going to have to move. Rain pattering on deck, which means it will soon be dripping on where I am sitting. March 18 North Atlantic Ocean: Wednesday 0530 Not the night I wanted with a weakened shroud. Or at all. Clouds, intermittent rain, though not hard or for long. Enough so I had to keep the companionway closed, which wasn’t too bad. Sometime during the night I was cool enough to pull some of the sleeping bag over me. Strong wind was followed by weak, followed by strong. Up many, many times and we were never on course. In the end it averaged out and our course since noon yesterday is what we want, but there was a lot of zigging and zagging rather than a straight line. Headed for another 150+ mile day. Road Town is 704 miles away. Clouds and rain continue. Just had an episode. Haven’t been on deck yet. Just getting first light and just took a wave, but from the companionway the shroud looks the same. My rigging is deliberately oversized increasing the breaking strength to 17,000 pounds from 12,000. I do not know how much having one strand of nineteen broken reduces that strength. There is one small area of clear sky to the northeast. 0550 On deck to move the solar panel to port from starboard. Sun is up and the clear part of the sky bigger. Shroud the same. 1205 Clearing has continued. Sky now about ⅔ blue. Some high cirrus and some low cumulus, exploding upward in white billows and from which rain is falling. None near us now; but we continue to be harder pressed than I wish because of the shroud, despite jib being more deeply furled than it would normally be in such conditions. Rumbling through the water rather than swishing. Shaved this morning. Swept cabin sole. Pumped a few buckets of water from the bilge. Repaired a piece of trim around base of mast that has to be removed to get to bilge. Noon position: 13º 51’ North, 54º 07‘ West. Day’s run: 162 miles (25 hours). Road Town: 663 miles, bearing 294º. 1610 Has turned out to be a rather nice afternoon, though with too much water over deck to sit out or even stand for very long. There are still some dramatic and potentially troublesome clouds around. Cooler, though perhaps that is mostly due to stronger wind. My masthead wind unit is transmitting angle but not speed. Apparent wind 105º starboard. Tired. My side is bothering me. Hope the mast stays up. I’m eager to get in. When I was in my tool box earlier today, checked the hacksaw in case I need it to cut away rigging. 1650 I was right about the clouds. Although they naturally looked more impressive with the long shadows of late afternoon, one has brought brief rain and stronger wind. I reduced the jib down to below storm jib size and we are still doing 7 knots. 7.4 at the moment. And, unfortunately, there is another bearing down on us that looks like a nuclear explosion. 1950 The explosive cloud and its rain passed behind us, but in its wake we slowed to less than six knots so I increased the jib to the size it was before. Only a scrap, but a bigger scrap. And we started going too fast again. I would be happy with a steady, comfortable six knots, but it is not to be. We continue with pulsations of too much wind followed by too little. Watched an old Charles Boyer, Hedy Lamar movie, ALGIERS. He a criminal living in the Casbah who dies for love. Made in 1937. Entertaining. March 19 North Atlantic Ocean: Thursday 0620 At 2300 last night we heeled far over by strong wind, but this came from an almost clear starry sky with only a few shadows of cloud that were well to the south of us. I furled the jib down to storm jib size, and we continued on at 7 knots. When I got up an hour a go, we were smoothly doing 5.8 knots, which for that matter we are doing at the moment. I’ve been furling and unfurling the jib this morning like a venetian blind. There are more clouds around, one of which I can see looming up through the companionway. Speed now 6.5 knots. Now 7.1. All I want is a smooth, easy six knots and the boat persists in acting like a skittish horse. There was also a big flying fish in the cockpit, whose death throes created a big mess. After cleaning that up, I checked the shroud, which is the same, and the control lines on the Monitor, which are showing some wear but I think will last until Road Town without needing to be shifted. The lines are deliberately over long, with the extra at the cockpit end. To change the points of contact, I have to let the tiler pilot steer, then untie the inboard ends, lean over the stern and pull and retie the outboard ends, then retie the inboard again. Not difficult, but will definitely hurt my side, so I don’t want to if I don’t have to. Road Town is 542 miles distant. If we maintain our present rate of progress we would be in or very close at sunset Sunday. I think it likely that I will slow down to arrive Monday morning. Of course, this assumes the mast stays up. 1020 Sky half clear, half covered with diffuse cloud. Cloud to the north of us. Less wind and seas than yesterday, but making 6.5 to 7 knots under scrap of jib and main. 1205 Not a tropical sky. Thick cloud to the north, otherwise mostly sunny. Cooler today. Less wind and smaller seas. Barometer 1018. Noon position: 15º 12’ North; 56º 26‘ West. Day’s run: 158 miles. Week’s run: 1111 miles. Road Town 507 miles, bearing 292º. Total daily runs to date: 5696. Added to this the distance to Road Town makes for a total passage of at least 6203 miles, an increase of 9 miles since last Thursday. We will either be in Road Town on Monday or we will be in trouble. 1600 Lovely afternoon. Spent much of it on deck. Salt water shower, followed by a beer and music. Temperature in the 70s. Put a t-shirt on in the shadow of the mainsail. I keep feeling that I ought to let out more jib. We still have only storm jib size set, but we are averaging almost 7 knots as it is. The wind has veered and we are now on a broad reach. Lots of whitecaps, but seas still only 3’, with occasional exceptions. Sky clear overhead and to the south; cloud to the north. Finished reading LOVING FRANK. To say that it was about Frank Lloyd Wright is the same kind of over simplification I use when I reply to the question, “What do you write about?” by saying “My voyages.” This fine novel is about the relationship between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney, who was a fellow resident of Oak Park, Illinois, and the wife of one of his clients. She was a remarkable woman, in ways as much ahead of her time as he was. The novel follows the true facts of their story, so I was aware all along of its devastatingly tragic ending. Nancy Horan, who wrote LOVING FRANK, is as was Andromeda Romano-Lux, who wrote THE SPANISH BOW, a first novelist. Both are very talented writers. 1800 More peaceful than it has been out here for a while. I keep thinking we have slowed, but when I glance at the instruments we are often making 7 knots. Having the wind and waves at a120º angle is the difference. The math keeps saying we will be within a few miles of Road Town at sunset Sunday. That may change when we turn even more downwind for the last 150 miles. If the shroud weren’t weakened, I might push a bit harder and try to be in Sunday. Presently I’m just letting the boat continue as she is and will decide what to do as we get closer. March 20 North Atlantic Ocean: Friday 0600 Nicest pre-dawn for a while. Only a few scattered clouds. Wind and waves moderate. Temperature on deck 73ºF/23ºC. Last night at 2230 I was awakened when we started going too fast, often topping 8 knots. I already had the jib reduced to almost nothing, so I decided to lower the mainsail. It had been up a long time. Ten days, I think. This did reduce our speed, but also dramatically increased rolling. I’ll leave it down to slow our approach. 393 miles to go. Still making 6 knots under deeply furled jib. Went on deck to move solar panel to starboard. Shroud and Monitor lines o.k. 0950 Beautiful trade wind day. Just on deck where I put the mainsail cover on. Letting us roll along at 5 to 6 knots under deeply furled jib. We could easily do 7. A five knot average would get us there late Monday morning. Barometer up to 1019, highest I recall since before the Equator. A lot of white caps around. Apparent wind angle about 120º. That’s an estimate. Wind unit not deigning to provide any information today. I’d do some exercises this morning, but my side still bothers me. I assume it is a bruise from lurching into something and not internal. Not severe, but I feel a twinge with almost every roll, of which there are several a minute. 1205 Slowing down has cost us another 150 mile day. We’ve given up at least 10 miles this morning. Noon position: 16º 29’ North; 58º 37‘ West. Day’s run: 148 miles. Road Town 361 miles, bearing 289º. A five knot average would in fact give us an arrival at 1400 Monday, which is later than I want. I can speed up by unfurling the jib, but we are averaging better than 5.0, so I’ll wait and see what the numbers are as the afternoon progresses. Continues to be beautiful day. 1440 Weather still beautiful; day has become a little trying. While I was eating my cheese and crackers for lunch, a loud pop signaled the breaking of another strand of wire in the starboard lower shroud. I immediately jibed and left the jib backed with the boat pointing about 250º. I’m not going to relate the entire process of what I considered and attempted. What I finally did achieve is placing two high strength, low stretch lines around the mast just above the lower spreaders. I got them up there by raising them on the main halyard with a weight consisting of three bottles of water inside a mesh bag. Once I had this above the spreaders and swung forward of the mast, the weight bought everything back to the deck. I had attached a third line to reverse the process and bring the main halyard back to its usual place after untying the two lines I wanted to leave around the mast. I could have just left it there and let the rigger sort it out, but didn’t. All this, and several other plans, including going up the mast on a webbing ladder, took longer to do than to tell. I’ll take some photos in time. One of the lines is tied off to the chainplate, then runs up and around the mast, coming back to deck at a big snatch-block on the deck edge track, then back to a winch. The other line is tied off further forward to a padeye on the deck edge, then up and around the mast, coming back to deck at the car on the genoa track and then to a winch. We are back on the same course, which takes us near Antigua, which is less than 200 miles away. We could be in there on Sunday. I might. Or I might continue on to the Virgin Islands. I checked the fuel tank. I still have about ¾ of a tank, and can certainly power 100 miles. Maybe 150 or even more. 1810 Despite my rigging problem, today has been perfectly beautiful. I spent most of the afternoon on deck. The first two hours working, and after that enjoying. I just came below after eating dinner and having a glass of wine as the sun set below an almost clear sky with only a few widely scattered trade wind puffs. Enjoy this while I can. I have increased sail. Our speed had dropped below 5 knots, which is not acceptable, and I don’t think a little extra pressure will be decisive about the mast. One reason I did not set up the extra jury rigged shrouds earlier is because the mainsail was set. Now it could not be raised above the lower shrouds, which means it can’t be raised. Even jibing the jib will be complicated. I’ll have to loosen the two jury rigged ropes before bringing the sail over. At present I have them snug, but not taut. The load is still being carried by the wire shroud. Losing the mast on this boat would cost between $10,000 and $20,000 dollars. The higher figure is almost what I paid for the the boat itself. That total includes a new mast, rigging, furling gear, sails, and depending on location could even be higher. There have been times when if I sustained such damage I would have been wiped out, Now I could pay for it, but have wondered if it would be worthwhile, when for the same money I could buy a smaller boat. There is a huge difference between the round the world racers pushing and breaking boats paid for by sponsors, and sailing your own boat, knowing that you pay for the repairs and your resources are limited. Not a complaint. A fact. Masts were kept upright by rope long before they were kept up by wire, and the old ropes were not nearly as strong as the ones I am using. The rig on EGREGIOUS was damaged more seriously and for much longer than this. We have only to hold together for three hundred miles, or less, and about 65 hours, or less. Pleasantly cool on deck. 75ºF. Didn’t look earlier, but even when I was working pretty hard getting the rope shrouds in place sweat was not running as it was with the least exertion on the Equator. March 21 North Atlantic Ocean: Saturday 0600 Another fine dawn. Just scattered trade wind clouds. An uneventful night. Moderate wind and seas. We sailed smoothly, but I am sensitive to any unusual sounds and woke often. No change in shroud this morning. Sailing under about ½ the jib at 5.5 to 6.3 knots. Mostly in the 5s. Road Town is 266 miles away, a little further as we will sail north to clear other islands, then west. Might be able to have wind on port side of the boat for some of the westing. Antigua is 92 miles west of us now. I haven’t been there for a long time, but know I could get my shroud replaced. If I could get in before dark, I might, but I can’t, so the difference is only between tomorrow and the day after. The further north we get, the more downwind Antigua becomes and the easier to get to if something does happen. Time to make coffee. 0900 The comment about Antigua was prescient. I’ve just changed course for there. A waypoint off the corner of the island is 72 miles away, bearing 253º. The decision came when I heard another crack and went on deck to examine the shroud. Almost all the outer wires are now cracked. One more day might be one too many. My jury rigged shrouds will probably hold, but it makes no sense to push on. Particularly when Antigua can be reached at present with the wind on the port side of the boat. Furled the jib down to slow us to 4 knots. 1205 Moving at 3 to 4 knots under a tiny bit of jib, essentially under bare poles. I prepared to anchor. Pulled the first 100’ of chain on deck to be certain it is not jammed below deck as sometimes happens when tossed around during a passage. My double duck tape seal on the deck fitting seems to have worked. Chain was dry. Then took anchor from quarter berth to bow. Removed spray cover from engine panel. Still have Monitor steering, but will change to tiller pilot before night. Pumped fresh water for a shower into the bag. Still using the new bigger water tank. From force of habit, I started to put shower bag under salt water spigot. I have been in Antigua only once, and that was 1984 with RESURGAM after a passage from Portugal. I went into English Harbor, which is small and picturesque. May not be any room. I think most boats now go to Falmouth Harbor, just to the west. I’ll pass the entrance to English Harbor on my way to Falmouth and may go in and look around. There is a big regatta each year called Antigua Race Week. Hope it is not now. Noon position 17º 21’ North; 60º 30‘ West. Day’s run: 120 miles. That is the distance from yesterday’s noon position. We will have sailed farther considering the change in course. Antigua: 72 miles, bearing 253º. This is the waypoint off the southeast corner of the island. The harbors are about five and six miles farther west. 1710 Just on deck having dinner of one of the French cans–chicken and vegetables–a glass of wine, and music, James Galway, the flutist, SONGS OF THE SEASHORE, Japanese melodies. Tomorrow I will see the shore and not just the sea. Starting to adjust to the passage’s end. For six and a half weeks and 6,000 miles, my world has been the boat, the wind, the waves, the sky, and whatever music and books I choose. I’ve had no news of what passes for the real world, but as some of us know isn’t. Light wind this afternoon. Pleasantly cool on deck. Felt odd to be sitting on the port side of the deck, when for six weeks since off Cape Agulhas, which was a Saturday as well, the starboard side of the boat has been to windward. Fresh water shower felt good, but not that much better than salt. The tiller pilot is steering. Has been since early afternoon. We’re making between 3 and 4 knots under about ⅓ of the jib. 52 miles off the southeast corner of Antigua, so should be near at first light. Sunday is not the best day to arrive in port. Don’t know whether I’ll be able to go ashore. Some places still want to come out to the boat; some don’t. Some are strict; some aren’t. And few officials work on Sundays in the third world, but may in season in the Caribbean. I look up and see clouds and waves rising and falling through the companionway. Tomorrow motion will be stilled. 1820 Was on deck for last sunset. Orange and red to west; lilac and lavender to east. Peaceful. March 22 North Atlantic Ocean: Sunday 0430 Last crescent of moon and morning star visible through the companionway. The moon was just rising when I got up for good an hour ago. For most of the night the loom of lights of Antigua and Guadeloupe to the south have been visible. Wind light and surprisingly from somewhat south of east all night. We’ve been able to sail west with the jib still to starboard. I had it deeply furled until the past hour. Now it is fully out and our speed around 4 knots. The waypoint off Antigua is 14 miles away, bearing 265º. I could see that we were being set south during the night and kept correcting the tiller pilot. When we first turned this way, the bearing was 253º. 0600 Antigua visible ahead. Nine miles to corner waypoint. 17 miles to mouth of Falmouth Harbor. Making 4.5 under jib. Have brought in companionway inserts and lowered dodger, which I do for better visibility in harbors. Removed spray covers from cockpit speakers last evening. Necessary at sea, but sound is better without them. 0730 Sky has clouded over. Rain does not look immanent. Hope not. I’d like to have uncompromised visibility entering port. Still under sail. Making 4.5 knots. A little over 5 miles off corner of the islands. Can see buildings from this distance. Ten miles to Falmouth Harbor entrance. 1030 Anchor down, Falmouth Harbor, Antigua I turned the engine on two hours ago, when swells near the island started to roll the wind out of the jib. Saw the sails of two boats heading south toward Guadeloupe. Montserrat visible to the west. As I passed its entrance English Harbor was as crowded as I expected, so continued to Falmouth, less than a mile west. There are many boats here, most on buoys or at anchor. Megayachts tied to a few docks. I saw a spot between other boats behind the reef near the east side of the entrance and turned in and anchored. As always it seems strange to see land, other boats, people, to be still. Day’s run since yesterday noon: 76 miles. Passage total; 6040 miles. 45 days. Position: 17º 01’ North; 61º 47‘ West. Passage over.