To Azores Day 9

Wednesday August 2 Day 9 to Horta… 1194nm to go on this leg with 620.8nm behind us. All is well in the verse. Then out of nowhere… The seas are huge…again! We also got caught up in a foul current pushing us north so we had to tighten up on the tach to a very close reach and that put us at odds with the swell…it’s not at odds actually, it’s more like a grinding angle than opposition. Took a hard fall from the windward settee just before lunch…that’s gonna bruise! Dena just took the 4-5pm watch and eased the sails and the helm out a touch…I think it feels better. Dena’s 6-7 pm watch 6:18 pm: The old forecast’s doldrums could still take over, but we pulled out of a countercurrent and are now sailing well on more of a beam reach. We’d been getting lots of splashing and I’m not excited about a wet ride. Nice to chill out the motion, increase the speed over the ground, and stay drier. James called a ship that was getting close earlier today, but the guy wasn’t approachable for weather. There’s another ship coming up from behind and we’ll call them when they get closer. It’ll just be good to know that there aren’t any tropical storms forming or coming through the area. Dena’s 8-9 pm watch 8:12 pm: I brought us a little further into the wind now that we are clearly far enough north of the passing ship. It’s not as nice a ride, though. Some of the big waves right on the beam have us heaving sideways and the odd one breaks on the hull to splash into the cockpit. It’s been a weird day weather-wise and not getting less so. The sun fell into a blanket of[…]

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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[…]

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To Azores Day 7

Monday, July 31 Day Seven, a week at sea in the Atlantic Flow, Earth’s Ocean. The seas are huge and tumultuous again…and again and again. One of my love/hate design elements about the Baba 30 is the rubstrake. When contrary seas come from abeam , the waves smack the rubstrake and it can be a bit intense down below decks…and again…and again! Dena’s 1-4 pm watch 3:32 pm: I (Dena) sincerely hope that the weather gets better between now and sundown, like the (week-old) forecast said it would. The boat’s motion has been a challenge since yesterday and it’s been tough. Makes me think of people who do this kind of trip in boats with less ballast, less keel…more motion. Every feature of this boat that keeps us on track and something like steady is something I’m glad we have! The funny part is that it’s not that bad compared to what I was nervous about. (And we could still get some of that. We’re one-quarter of the way there in space, whatever that means in time.) It’s just laborious to even sit still because there’s nothing still. I remember the theme from the SF-Hilo trip becoming “no coffee breaks on the ocean”. You can scream at it to stop, but it won’t. The antidote to feeling powerless (when that’s not what I want to ponder) is cleaning something or checking our course or refilling the water bottle. Slowly, carefully, because having it go poorly negates the purpose of the exercise. So it’s all focused mind, controlled body, while pouring water from one container to another on a rollercoaster. James’ 5-6pm watch The lead-line on the port side of the Monitor keeps jumping out of its cam-cleat. I (James) tied it down but we’ve never seen a linear line jump[…]

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To Azores Day 6

Sunday July 30 We did 96 NM yesterday in 24 hours and that’s a new record for this leg of the adventure. The sea-state is still very angry but moving us, for the most part, in the right direction so it’s still dealable. 1462 NM remaining on this leg. Dena’s 1-4pm watch 1:50 pm: As soon as I came up for my shift, we decided to pull that second reef. We don’t need to do 6 knots in a building wind. “Reef early” may as well be on a needlepoint sampler when it comes to the great and powerful Cetacea. After I pulled the reef and unclipped my tether to return to the cockpit (no lectures, jacklines are on the list), I saw a little flying fish on the deck. There was no saving it but I threw it back in the water regardless. And then I saw it. A large fish, iridescent blue, green, and purple when the light flashed on it just right. James says it’s a dorado, same kind he saw stalking the boat yesterday. Or maybe stalking the flying fish. I’m glad we did reef. We’re still in the 5 knot realm more often than not. A few days of good mileage will balance the slow start we got, but I’m at home on the boat and in no hurry to arrive anywhere. I’m sure I’ll be missing some very common foods by then (bread, eggs, cheese, for example) but if it goes well, we’ll stop to get what we want rather than out of desperation. And to see the Azores, of course! The theme of being at home has been on my mind a lot, and it makes me think about the pandemic restrictions. James and I are so much more fundamentally fit to thrive[…]

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To Azores Day 5

Saturday, July 29 James’ 12:00-12:30 pm watch: Dena and I talked about people of color in our writing. James’ 1-4pm watch: I managed to get her nice and balanced on a straight downwind run by over-compensating Lovebot’s angle to windward and Cetacea’s rudder to lee…we’re clipping along at 4.5-5 knots. I can’t complain! Damn!!! I put a hole in the luff of the mainsail shaking that last reef out…keep an eye on that. James’ 5-6 pm watch 5:22 pm: People say pics or it doesn’t count. I (Dena) think pics means you didn’t see it. Only true for some kinds of experiences, I know. Some things hold still for a long time or repeat. Maybe you watched for a while. The Taj Mahal photo James shot is gorgeous and should in no way be taken to mean that he didn’t also just gaze at that with his full focus. But in this watery realm, only the sky moves that slowly and even there, there’s lightning and birds. All that to say no, I didn’t get a picture. Here’s what I have. After three hours of a long off-watch, I took over from James with my head still in a whirl. I forgot that I’d created some people with character. Also at least one caricature that I’m going to have to work on. I’m cautiously pleased to be picking up a manuscript I started years ago for a storyline that won’t leave me alone. I sat in the cockpit and checked our course on the chartplotter, confirmed that there were no large ships dying to run us down, and shut that shit down. A brace of minutes with my eyes on the waves and the whirl in my brain slowed. And then a set of waves with an especially ornate set[…]

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To Azores Day 4

Friday, July 28 Noontime watch: we split the 12:00 hour into two 30 minute “workout” watches. It gives us an odd switch over so we don’t get stuck with the same dog-watches every night. It’s working out. I (James) started my new sci-fi novel today…it feels so good to be finally putting this work down. I’ve had it in my head for two decades and now it’s going on the page as if I already know the story…I do I guess…until I don’t. There seems to be a weather formation coming up from the west and it is making its presence known in the form of wind fluctuations from abaft…very light and teasing. Dena’s 1-4pm watch 2:03 pm: We’re not really seeing the steadying up of the wind that the forecast (from the morning we left) said we’d see. We’re motorsailing a little under break-even, meaning we’re still adding power to the battery even though we’re also using the motor. We’re only getting about a knot from it but with that bit of wind we have, we’re moving between 2 and 3 knots. And so we go. Dena’s 5-6pm watch 5:49 pm: It’s frustrating to slat the main as much as we have. When the light wind was forward of or just off the beam, we just went slow. Like this, though…I can see stretch marks on the sail where it bends around the shrouds. Not great. I just gybed again, back to a port tack. It’s the third gybe of the day and all in a very short period of time. It’s because we’re trying to go so far downwind in part but mostly because the swell and wind and current make it complicated to figure out the best course. Most direct isn’t always it, but I don’t think[…]

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To Azores Day 3

Thursday, July 27 At midday’s 8 bells we had 1666nm before us to Horta… We’ve switched up the watch schedule to include a 3 hour private time for each of us every other day…I’m thrilled but so far it’s been during the hottest hours of the day 1-4pm. Man is it hot today! The Windy forecast we recorded before taking off from Bermuda was spot on for the previous days on this leg…once again, we’re only three days out…it’s hard nailing it ten days out…we’ll soon see how accurate they’ve gotten over the years. Dena’s 4-5 pm watch 4:18 pm: My first long day watch wasn’t a spectacular success in the writing realm. The best writing I’m doing lately is right here! I spent about an hour going over the synopsis and some of the notes for my partial manuscript, Shriving, and then reading the first two scenes. Without going into exhaustive detail, it needs work. Then I bedded down for a long nap! We’ve only completed two days underway, so it’s not strange that my body wants to use any opportunity to sleep. The broken sleep pattern of a watch system takes a little while to get used to. Plus, it’s not that easy to keep track of how much sleep I’m even getting when so much of it is in snatches. Now I feel really refreshed. Sitting here, it just struck me. The waves are made up quite a few colors and qualities of light. This mid-afternoon angle, looking south, one of the common colors, under the little wavelet peaks, is the blue of James’s eyes. Just a hint of green and with a glow that is from depth rather than surface sheen. Neat. He really fits in out here. James’ 5-6 pm watch: Dressing the boat down[…]

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