Daily Archives: April 9, 2015

Not what I paid for

The day awoke to a startling scene. It was the sun rising above the clouds on the horizon. It’s been two days since we’ve seen it, a moment without rain or enough wind to actually sail. Several times I’d noticed, while ghosting along at a half a knot in large lumpy seas, Uncle Ray, our tireless auto pilot has a bright green vector line showing our course over the ground pointing north east while we are “sailing” south west. Time to crank up the Volvo…again.

Ten minutes later a squall with twelve knots of wind would come through so it’s back to the fire drill, head up into the wind, raise the main, fall off the wind, set preventers, and switch off the engine only to watch the wind drop to nothing. Reverse fire drill. This isn’t what I paid for and we can’t keep running the engine but we can’t let the effing currents push us back up to the equator. We had a carefully laid out plan to use the currents when we started but these Pacific currents seem to change hourly. I can’t understand how the currents in a three hundred square mile area of windless ocean could be totally against us. As I write this we have nine kts of wind which is a miracle but we can only do 2-3 knots speed over ground on a broad reach into these currents and perhaps dragging around every damn trumpet mollusk in the Pacific. The stress aboard Escape Velocity is written on Marce’s face. Not much to do but keep calm and carry on.

Fifteen knots from the east would be a start though.


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It’s my night watch, and until about an hour ago we were making about 1 kt. in 4-5 kts. of wind. Then I saw that our course readout was kerflooey. Get this. The boat is pointed on a course southwest, but our track shows us moving northeast at half a knot. We hit another adverse current. There’s nothing we can do about it, short of firing up an engine and burning more of our limited fuel. I’m going to sit tight and wait for change of watch in an hour and discuss with Jack what to do. In one hour we’re only losing a half mile of hard won territory and sleep is more important as long as the boat’s fine. Do you believe this passage? 

Looking ahead we have another few DAYS of calms, an area of hundreds of miles that we can’t possibly motor through. We can see that there’s wind enough to move us in the right direction 200 miles further south of us but we can’t get there. Our precious time in French Polynesia is ticking away while we wallow here in the doldrums. Later: When Jack came on watch he decided to motor. We dropped the mainsail, sheeted in the jib and fired up the engine. I went off watch and when I woke up six hours later we are still motoring, the wind and current haven’t improved and won’t for the next four days. We are stuck in the Twilight Zone. If we continue to motor we run the risk of running out of fuel. If we do’t motor, the current will sweep us back over the equator and northeast. Mood onboard is glum.


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