Friday, June 12, 2009

Day 18 - Bermuda to Ireland

Weather / Sea State:  For the record - I don't like it. The sun occasionally peeks out from behind a cloud, it rains from time to time, but the worst are the seas - they are a real mess, and the winds are strong. Each time we think we've broken out of the system we are right back into it - it seems to be hovering over us and not letting us out of its grasp. We are sailing nearly constantly with double reefed main, downwind, in winds of mid 20's, with gusts into the 30's and the very odd 40 (Kyle saw 46.7kt last night, that is 54mph)... I'm about ready for an anchorage and some calm; actually I'm overdue for all that in my book and I'm already talking about splashing out for a hotel for a day or two once we arrive in Ireland. 

Our pilot chart (with the probability of weather and seas for the month of June) suggests typical winds for this area are force 4 (11-16kts), where we've been experiencing force 7 and 8, and for the area we should apparently expect only a 10% chance of seas over 12' - we are clearly in an exceptional month (unfortunately for us). When you plan a journey of this length, there are no forecasts that can predict your weather for the full expected journey duration - all you can do is set off in a good weather forecast and work with the pilot charts for the longer range planning. Here we are complaining about too much wind and too big seas, there is probably a bunch of boats elsewhere complaining about the opposite problems.

General Comments: I awoke from my morning off watch thinking someone was knocking on the hull (common in an anchorage if you have a visitor) I got up to find out what was going on and found Kyle "fixing" the helm seat.  The metal attachment point has broken (weld released half way) and the seat was rocking back and forth with the motion of the boat. Kyle's put in a temporary fix for now, but we sure hope it lasts the journey. It is hard enough to be at the wheel all watch without also having to stand there (and If I stand at the wheel, I'm so short, I can't even see where I'm going without a step of some kind; that would not work in these seas). The enclosure is protecting us from the worst of the weather and the waves, but it is also suffering - chafe from the main sheet is causing wear in some patches, and loss of zipper teeth, and the occasional snap too.

It finally feels as if we are on the home stretch now - with (hopefully) no more than a week to go, we'd love to see this weather system leave soon. In "normal" wind and sea conditions, it is easy to leave the helm for a few minutes, even without the autopilot, but we've not been able to do that for days now; I'd trade a slower home stretch for some kind weather and seas right now.

The galley centerboard lifting line has broken - we can put the board down, or we can release it so it floats up, but we can't fully raise it at the moment - something else for the "to fix" list once things calm down - most likely once we've arrived in Ireland (and taken a few days of R&R).

By the end of the day we'll have been at sea for our longest time ever, we've already broken our distance record for a single journey. 

Remember the shearwaters I'd been admiring on this journey? I've taken to disliking them now... flying around like this weather and seas are just wonderful, they use little effort to just keep above the ever changing sea surface and seem to taunt us "what a great day at sea".. "NO, it ISN'T!" I want to yell back at them.

[Kyle]Gaining experience sailing is a process of gradually increasing your exposure/tolerance/understanding to/of a wider range of conditions. With the storm of the last few days we've finally got to the point where the weather is now simply more irritating than scary (most of the time, anyway).  Now when we hand over watches, if the report is 40kt gusts, 20' seas, we just think, "Oh, the usual, then".  The boat is handling well, but I'm getting sick of it. I need a good night of sleep, and I'd like to be able to take 3 steps in any direction without being lurched into something.

Food: Keeping it simple, just cereal, snacks and pasta with pesto yesterday

Progress: Yesterday we made 108nm (going fast, but heaving to so often cancels that out big time), So far on this trip we have traveled (through the water) 2052nm, and have 736 nm (straight line) to go.


Anonymous said...

Good to see that you guys are almost there. Laurey and I would could never do what you two are doing. A couple weeks ago we caught 13.7 kt on the bay surfing down a wave down wind in 35-40 kt winds. I was was thinking of running the Gem aground but managed to sail into a little creek instead.
More power to ya',
Bill and Laurey - Hull#957

kate said...

I wish Star Trek was real, and I could beam myself aboard long enough to cook you both something really spectacular. Yes, because that's what's stressful, isn't it? The lack of haute cuisine :) Kudos on being so close to your destination. You deserve a 4-star hotel and some serious sack time when you get there!

Anonymous said...

Your adventure is amazing, but I know you can't wait for land. Sounds like the boat is performing great and the captains are doing a great job too. Carl