To Azores Day 8

Tuesday August 1

8th Day at Sea!

The world is fucking intense.

High Cirrus on blue…double reefed with a blankie Yankee doing 6 knots through a choppy flow…

542.1nm from Bermuda…

1268nm to Horta…

Dena’s 1-4 pm watch

2:04 pm: It’s summer again!

As we came east, we’ve been sneaking up on the sun’s timeline. There are 3 time zones between Bermuda and the Azores, and we decided we’d advance the clock one hour for each 500 nautical miles we traveled.

We just did that today, hooray! Who needs the noon hour anyway?

The sunset had been coming earlier and earlier each day, like an accelerated autumn. Today, it’ll be almost an hour later (by the clock and by our watch schedule), though the elapsed time will be similar to each of our other days. We’ve been moving into the future the whole time.

This is the kind of thing that makes it clear. Time is a ridiculous concept.

Meanwhile, after a couple of inactive days, I (Dena) came out enthusiastic about getting something done. I made coffee and soysauge omelette sandwiches, tidied up the main saloon, and gave every I could reach a freshwater rinse.

When the waves lay down some more, I’ll get the bow (furlers and turning blocks). If (when) the wind dies down or if we end up on a beat, I’ll get the boom-end, which has taken a few (a dozen) dips recently. Sometimes, we roll at the same time a cross wave rises and dip! It’s not a knockdown because oftentimes the side deck doesn’t even get wet. And because…well, it just isn’t!

James’ 4-5 pm watch

Today as I (James) wrote in my sci-fi novel “Wundehar”…all the whole the sailing some how got perfect. Dena shook a reef and set both headsails and S/VSN-E Cetacea rose to her abilities in full…I was so wrapped up I didn’t even hear her labors.

The moon now dominates the sky at night…

Dena’s 5-6 pm watch

5:58 pm: I think a shark is pacing us! Or the dorado that was pacing the flying fish? It’s big and has a dorsal fin, whatever it is.

Dena’s 9-midnight watch

10:17 pm: Add this to the list of psychological effects of offshore sailing: I’ve drastically improved at picking meaningful shapes out of the clouds…but mostly the ones around the moon. Full tonight, by the way. There are very few deck duties I’d need a flashlight for.

Wednesday August 2

James’ 6-9 am watch

Because we pushed our ship’s time forward an hour yesterday, it’s now nighttime for a good part of this watch. The wind is fresh but we have a foul current pushing us north that is causing us a bit of lee…annoying but doable. It’s making us plow the waves and that’s never my first choice.

Dena’s 11-noon watch

11:22 am: We’re on day 8 of the trip, meaning the 10-day forecast we set off with is seriously stale. The app said we’d have diminishing winds and be in the vicinity of a developing dead-air zone. If we were north of it, the winds would be easterly (in our faces). If we weren’t, we’d get an array of wind directions before it settled back into westerlies.

Instead, we have a brisk (F4) breeze from the south. There’s been a somewhat southerly swell the whole time (it’s a feature of the North Atlantic in general) but now the wind waves are confused, backing from west to south.

We’re on a close reach under double-reefed main and yankee, having pulled in the staysail on James’ last watch. We ran under single-reefed main and yankee all night, but James got the staysail out when the winds had abated a bit around dawn.

This point of sail means heeling, and we took in the staysail and added the second reef partly to reduce heel and partly to ease the helm. We were sitting at about 20° and heeling over to 30° in the gusts and when a roller would slip under us. Now we’re back at 15-20°, which is a lot more comfortable.

It got us talking about how much we could learn about sail trim and different ways of handling weather if we were to crew on one of the ocean races. No thanks! They break things all the time on those races. Exploding sails, wrapping spinnaker poles around the forestay, dismastings…that’s not anything I want to learn to do! Besides, they’re famously uncomfortable trips and as Paul Simon says, “I’m accustomed to a smooth ride. Or maybe I’m a dog that’s lost his bite. I don’t expect to be treated like a fool no more. I don’t expect to sleep through the night.”

Well, the first line at least.

Actually, lines three and four as well.


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