Day 88, Year 6 Passage to St. Helena, Day 3 – WINDY
Date: Thursday, January 20, 2011, 1530 UTC
Weather: Overcast, then Sunny; Winds SE 25-30+
Temperature: Water 59 degrees F; Air 61 degrees F
Latitude: 31 25.142 S
Longitude: 013 25.235 E
Miles Traveled: 354.18
Miles to Go: 1419
Location: Passage from South Africa to St. Helena
The South Atlantic Ocean decided to throw a wild going-away party for us. Unfortunately, the only ones invited were Windy, Windier, Windiest, and whole lot of BIG Waves. The party started just before 11 pm last night. At first, I thought it was just Midnight Madness. That’s my name for the craziness that seems to happen from about 11:30 pm to 1:30 am on many nights. But by 1:30 am, Windiest was dancing her wild dance with winds staying in the 35-40 knot range. So there was not a lot of sleep happening aboard Windbird. At some point, Windier and Windy decided to dance together and the winds would go from 20 knots causing us to nearly jibe and then increase to 35 knots with Windier just kicking up her heels and causing the waves to get bigger and more confused. BIG Waves were dancing toward us from all directions. Today the party goes on with Windier dancing pretty consistently a 25-30 knots. And it looks like the party will continue for at least another 24 hours and maybe more.
Before the party started we were on a more northerly course to miss some sea mounts and after passing them, we were going to head more westerly. To accommodate our dancing partners, we are now headed more westerly and will head northerly once we pass under the sea mounts. When this blow ends, we should have a relatively calm period again and get back to those smooth sailing days. We’ll need it to recover from this. We are getting too old for these all night parties! When sailing, it seems like you always have too much or too little wind. The upside of too much wind, at least when it is behind you and not trying to blow you over, is that you move fast. We are making good speed toward St. Helena, just not in the most comfortable conditions. Yesterday I was reading the pilotage information on the 3,000 mile passage from Ascension to the Caribbean, and a boat named Nordly reported that in 2008, a La Nina year, the trip was a devastatingly slow one as the band of no wind (the doldrums) was quite expanded I knew El Nino ended sometime in 2010 and have been wondering if some of the strange weather happenings around the world might be related to La Nina. I mentioned this in an email to our daughter Heather and she sent back the news. Indeed, La Nina is in full form and will remain so through the spring. So we can anticipate a longer period with no wind on that long slog northward. So as always when sailing, it seems like you have too much or too little wind. You live through the uncomfortable times and truly cherish the glorious days when the wind is just right. And I’ll be ready for a few of those when this blow ends.