To Bermuda, Day 9

S/V SN-E Cetacea Log Day 9 – 74.6 NM 7/5/2023 Dena’s 2-3 pm watch The wind died out like it does around here in the afternoon and this time it pulled the really funny trick of turning west…meaning we need to go way downwind.  There are 2 conflicting swells tossing the sails back and forth and Lovebot doesn’t have the forces it relies on: wind on the vane and water against the paddle. At least the current isn’t against us! 7/6/2023 Dena’s midnight-3 am watch I kinda can’t believe how hard the afternoon was. Heat, barely a breeze. Hand steering in a frustrating swell coming from 30° farther south than the wind waves that teased us with the idea that there must be wind somewhere or where were these made? The wind came up just before dark, as we are beginning to expect. It strengthened quickly, then we got rain, then it turned twice in 10 minutes so we gybed twice and we were back to the track we started on. With the onset of the wind, the alertness level went up but the stress level went down. Sailing while Lovebot drives is just better than motoring and hand steering! Now we have an aggravating amount of swell plus heavy wind waves, from different directions like before. The wind is keeping us flying along, but we get a massive roll going that’s uncomfortable if not actively dangerous. It’s the kind of thing that can send a can of peaches across the cabin. If something like that beans one of us in the head … bad times. We’re tidied up for it, but it’s always a concern. Imagine taking a house, tipping it 10-20°, and then shaking it up and down. Ridiculous, right? Even other traveling people don’t get this particular[…]

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To Bermuda, Day 8

S/V SN-E Cetacea Log Day 8 – 78.6 NM 7/4/2023 James’ 12:30-1:00 pm watch:  Drink more water, move around more and hallucinate less…if at all possible. 12:37 pm: So far, this day is shaping up as less perfect than yesterday. Less wind, and at an angle to the swell that pumps the sails. We have the motor engaged and feel fine about that. Dena’s 9-midnight watch 9:11 pm: Okay, I was wrong. This afternoon turned into a perfect reach that’s still going now. 10:01 pm: The moon rose behind clouds for a spooky effect. I came this close to reefing the main from ambiance alone. We’re still reaching at 4 knots, though. Lovebot isn’t struggling to steer and there aren’t waves it would be dangerous to surf. Just backlit clouds like windows to the void. 10:58 pm: A cool, wet breeze, F2, just took over from the brisk fresh F3. Now I get to wait and find out whether the rain will come to us or pass northeast like so many others from the southeast quadrant. Like the ships, they’re just faster than us. 7/5/2023 James’ 12-3am watch:  Dena hands the tiller over with an offer to drive us the rest of the way between the 3 storm cells I wake up to…I hang tight for a minute or two and gently shoo her away to her bunk. I should’ve reefed! Fuck!!! When the combined winds of the three cells hit I pulled in both headsails and fell off the wind riding a following gust on squared-up waves… Dena’s 3-6 am watch 4:41 am: Must be the heat. I just de-crossconnected the propulsion pack (which we haven’t had to use tonight) from the house battery, which had taken a beating. We were down 5% in just the 3 hours between[…]

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To Bermuda, Day 7

S/V SN-E Cetacea Log Day 7 – 67 NM 7/3 James’ 1-2 pm watch:  The sun is so overhead that I can shade my feet with my hat when I stand up in the cockpit. …a fucking week, we’ve been underway for a week and our ocean is finally starting to thin out a bit from all that ship traffic. 1:04 pm: When the wind lightened up this morning, the current had turned in our favor and, since then, we still haven’t done much motor-engaging for a boost. It’s a pleasure to have a renewable chemistry rather than the finite diesel problem, but it’s still preferable to sail and bank this good daytime power.  We’ve run all three banks lower than usual over the last few days. Hot weather means less efficiency from the solar panels and refrigerator plus more desire for fans and unending refills on the cold water. Still air means nothing from the wind generators. The world, though! This area has a lot more action visible in the water…life and death as seen through splashes, some leaping fish, and the spreading ripples following the drama. We’re still ringed by clouds in this high pressure zone. I’m not sad that the wind and current have us trending north. I think there’s more wind up there. We’ll see! Dena’s 2-3 pm watch 2:45 pm: The winds are incredibly light. The waters of the world are in motion (there’s no such thing as static). The force of this patch is pushing us into the breathy sigh of hot atmosphere around us and keeping the sails remarkably full. Gusts are maybe what you’d feel at a brisk jog and they spin the boat onto a slightly more direct course before it eases and we fall off north again. We’re using the[…]

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To Bermuda, Day 6

S/V SN-E Cetacea Log Day 6 – 47 NM 7/2 James’ 12:30-1 pm watch When noon came around, a tanker was passing us less than a mile away. Safe enough but what’s up with all the traffic? Worlds away from seeing only 4 vessels in 20 days on our way to Hawaii. …but, they do seem to be thinning out a bit. Dena’s 3-4 pm watch 3:55 pm: The water is sapphire quicksilver, undappled by the slightest breeze. Has been since before noon. We’re barely motoring a knot to conserve power, just making enough way to have helm. The beauty around us is outsized, our empty horizon implying the whole rest of the World Ocean. Our slow-rolling propeller and whale-family hull barely change the epic wrinkles passing through the water, through us. We leave behind a pacifist’s roil and ripples that disappear as though glad to become part of the larger energy.  We made water for an hour today to keep the membranes fresh. We’re a bit low in both house banks, so we can cross-connected the propulsion pack as well. Boom! It ate 2% of the propulsion pack but boosted the house banks several. James’ 4-5 pm watch: The Free Ride…motorsailing on glass making enough power to motorsail on glass… Waiting for the Earth to forgive us with her winds. 4:05 pm: She came through once again. Dena’s 7-8 pm watch 7:55 pm: Sailing! James got the beginning of it on his 6-7 shift. I shook the first reef and put the staysail out. I want to leverage the wind a little more thoroughly if we’re only going to have it between 7 pm and 5 am!  For most of the time the motor was engaged, we offset the power draw with solar to one degree or another. A[…]

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To Bermuda, Day 5

S/V SN-E Cetacea Log Day 5 – 43 NM 7/1  James’ noon-12:30 pm watch 12:18 pm: Glass again, or still.  We’re looking at the eventual possibility of running low enough on the propulsion pack to let the currents take us for a while. Meantime, we’re using about half our power to stay on course against a north-setting current and the rest to achieve a blistering 0.5 knots. It’s hot and sunny right now. Not perfectly comfortable but sweaty-fine as long as we stay hydrated. Then there’s icing the hot, steamy panting cat. James’ 1-2 pm watch A blue so blue it defines its own depth. 1:09 pm: My (Dena’s) phone said it was getting hot so I stopped doing my log while up above decks. Basically, I was just going to say that our previous 24-hour distance total was the shortest so far. Perhaps even the shortest ever for any boat we’ve been on. Electric propulsion is both everything we’d hoped for and the limiting factor that we were expecting. James’ 3-4 pm watch The silence is almost perfect except for the wash sound of the slow prop. 3:03 pm: I (Dena) recline on the port settee in a position that’s starting to get old. Our unusual watch schedule, with these short 1-hour day watches, is especially good on a day like today.  A long quiet sailing watch is a planet-awareness trance when I’m lucky; it’s a grinding bore when I’m not. Values of  lucky include how fatigued or restless I am, whether Lovebot is driving well, what the light of the sun or moon or stars is doing in the water and against the clouds, how much I have to brace my body against unwanted motion, whether I am fussing all stuck in my own head or open to[…]

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To Bermuda, Day 4

S/V SN-E Cetacea Log Day 4 – 44NM 6/30 Dena’s 3-4 pm watch  3:02 pm: We lost the wind but made two hours of water with the propulsion pack cross-connected. It gave the house banks a boost even over what the watermaker needed.  We’re doing a lot of talking, some reading. Settling in. Beluga Greyfinger is hot most of the time but refuses to come out on deck as long as the big-white-triangle is deployed… Dude’s gotta get over it. It was so calm that we celebrated the down-time with a taste of the Kraken…the last of the bottle provided the opportunity to create a message in a bottle. Dena’s 7-8 pm watch  7:57 pm: The sunsets are brilliant.  They’re also happening at a time where they span a shift change and we enjoyed this one together. 7/1 James’ midnight-3 am watch …sailing at night on an endless sea filled with ships drinking petrol. 12:06 am: We spent most of yesterday just very slowly motoring on glass water in the right direction. Our wind didn’t come back up until about 10 o’clock and then it was still only two to three knots and died out again about a half hour ago. Back to gently motoring to keep going…that-a-way. The cloudiness combined with the lack of wind has meant that we haven’t recharged our batteries as well as we’d like. I just switched house batteries at midnight and usually we’re doing that at six am. The propulsion bank is so strong that we could re-up the house banks. With great power comes a great need to use that shit! It’s like that hunny in your pocket at a chandlery…burn’n a hole up in there! Divert all auxiliary power to the forward shields… Engage! Dena’s 3-6 am watch  5:28 am: When I[…]

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To Bermuda, Day 3

S/V SN-E Cetacea Log Day 3 – 62NM 6/29 James’ noon-12:30 pm watch  Started with a bang. The Simrad didn’t correctly log the distance we traveled. James got it on his phone from the navionics app, but that’s a real drag. The odometer is back at zero, too, so I’ll need to add up the distances manually. Damn. I (Dena) hoped the reset fixed everything, but at least it hasn’t been restarting randomly! We restarted the system and will make that part of the noon routine from here on out. I also changed the track logging method from auto to distance and set it at 1 mile. James is winding the watch clock at noon. I’m so grateful that he keeps that thing running! …it’s not just the bells and the elegance of a mechanical device that can mark your way through the Verse…for me it’s a focal point in my (J’zzz’s) day.  Dena’s metrics have dominated the written logs since we left Nova Scotia…it’s wonderful!…she’s documenting this adventure the way she’s always wanted to because now it matters more than ever with the electric motor and everything that’s changed because of it. Un-fucking our fucked-up world is job one for everyone…that’s not political, that’s just the facts. Tick-tock motherfuckers. Dena’s 2-3 pm watch  2:09pm: We’re making 2 hours worth of water. We did an hour yesterday too, think I forgot to log that. The wind just picked up in a direction that’s helpful for running out of the way of two huge ships. 2.6 is better than 1.8 when trying to get somewhere. And then one of the ships went and changed course. I was definitely early patting myself on the back. Slow stress is still stress. I can probably learn to accept smaller distances from ships, but it’s[…]

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