Sunday, May 18, 2014

Hawaii to Sitka, Day 3: The Musicians Seamounts

About 280 miles north of Hawaii, on our third day out, we are passing through the southern end of an area of underwater landforms which on our chart are labeled "The Musicians Seamounts." Did you know Debussy has his own seamount? For those unfamiliar with the term, a seamount is an underwater mountain whose top used to be above sea level. Eroded by wind and waves, the top was flattened, and the sea level rose above the former mountain. Think of a flat-topped mesa, rising up from the desert floor, only underwater. Due to their shallow relief relative to the ocean floor around them, seamounts are usually teeming with life, and fishermen love these things.

I probably never would have known about the existence of the Musicians Seamounts had we not been sailing over them. In this part of the ocean, most of the great classical composers have a seamount named after them: Tchaikovsky, Mussorgski, Dvorak, Mozart, Ravel, Chopin, and Stravinsky all have seamounts in their names. Wagner, Verdi, and Rossini each have a seamount. Handel and Haydn, Gluck, Brahms and Liszt are represented. Schubert, Mahler, and Mendelssohn have seamounts. Today, I found myself wondering if Rachmaninoff, whose dark moods sometimes reflect the mood of the sea, had a seamount named after him? I went to the chart: Rachmaninoff has a seamount.

There are some notable absences from the procession of seamounts. Bach does not have a seamount named after him, nor does Beethoven. There are no seamounts named Strauss or Puccini.

Gaps, too, in one's musical education, are suggested by the names of some of the seamounts. For me, these include the work of Shostakovich, Kern, Paganini, Donizetti, Khachaturian, Prokofiev, and Grieg. Grieg?

I wonder what nation originally surveyed this area and what whimsy caused them to name this sunken archipelago after the world's great classical musicians?

Our passage has gotten off to a good start. We made slow offing from the island of Oahu, because the winds were light and still more from the northeast than we'd hoped. We were on a beat to a close reach the first day and moving only at about three to four knots. However, the seas were settled and we had a nice, calm ride for our first day out at sea. Getting our sea legs back was easier than adjusting to the rude interruption in our sleep schedules when resuming watches after five months of sleeping through the night.

On the second day, the wind shifted to the east and came around to our beam. We sailed along on a beam reach, still averaging only about four knots, as the wind strength gradually built throughout the day. By evening, we were doing five knots; and by this morning, we were flying along in twenty knots of wind at boat speeds of six, seven, even eight knots---and having great fun!---until the sea became too boisterous with the building swell, and we had to slow the boat down by putting a reef---and then another reef---in the main. This evening, the wind came around to the south. After dinner, we put up the pole and are now sailing wing and wing downwind. From midnight last night to midnight tonight, we did 143 nautical miles! That's close to as good as it gets on Silhouette.

Posted from sea via Ham Radio.

1 comment:

  1. A bit late reading this, but glad to hear your journey has started well, and that my idols Debussy and Ravel rate their own seamounts.