Thursday, April 19, 2012

Notes on Two Days At Sea

Saturday, April 16-Day 6

We ran under the asymmetrical spinnaker all day and through the night. The winds were very light at times, requiring periods of concentrated hand steering. At other times, we could turn the job of steering over to the autopilot (the wind was too light to use the wind vane.) It was another calm, peaceful, and sunny day on the water; another calm and cool night.

Evening is fast becoming my favorite time of day on this passage, because it is the only time when it is cool. A sworn morning person on land, I am turning into a night owl!

Today, we rigged up a temporary tarp between the bimini and the dodger to use as a pattern for a future shade cloth.

Occurences: In the morning, we passed a booby standing on the back of a floating sea turtle. On night watches, we saw our first instances of heat lightening.

Sunday, April 17-Day 7

The morning brought un-forecasted moderate winds of 13-14 knots. Wahoo! We doused the spinnaker and put up the main and headsail, trimming them for a beat. We were able to drive the boat hard for the first time on this passage, and Silhouette charged on through the morning at six---or close to six---knots, enjoying the chance to stretch her legs. Alas, this state of bliss did not last all day. The winds lightened up, and we settled down to a more subdued pace of four knots.

At sunset, we got the sundown bite and caught a small skipjack---but let it go---as it was too small to keep. While pulling in our lines and lures for the night, we were surrounded by small tuna ricocheting across the waves like skipping stones on the surface of a river. The skipjack tuna is aptly named.

Just as I was getting off my first watch of the night, the storm cloud I had been watching (trying to decide if it was really a storm cloud--the clouds look darker at night than they appear in daylight) unleashed its contents on Patrick. He ran below to close the hatches. I hopped out of my berth, to which I'd just retired, and jumped into the cockpit. Rain! Fabulous, huge droplet-ted, cool, sweet tasting rain was pouring down on us. I ran back down below to secure the open port lights, then, ran back into the cockpit to revel in the rain. I had to laugh out loud: In two trips up and down the Pacific Northwest coast, we had seldom seen rain on Silhouette; now, here we were in the tropics getting rained on! It was the first time I'd felt cool all day.

Patrick spent the rest of his watch using the radar to dodge the storm clouds---good practice for a few days from now? a week? when we hit the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone) and have to dodge actual squalls. (In a squall, the wind speed can increase from say, six knots to 25 knots in an instant, and can knock your boat down if you are carrying too much sail. They last only a few minutes, relative to a gale, and are often accompanied by torrential rain.)

My watch has no rain but is accompanied by lots of flashes in the sky. The lightening makes me nervous, because I don't think we have provided well enough for it on the boat; but so far, it is only heat lightening that doesn't hit the ground.

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