The day after my perfect night watch post we finally caught up with the southern trade winds. It’s been glorious to have enough pressure on the sails to cut through the seas and watch the miles tick off toward our destination. But a day later bigger seas also moved in, making the ride at first exhilarating then wearying. We tucked two reefs in the mainsail which didn’t affect our speed too much but did make our motion a little more comfortable. Then the winds built up.
Sailors say there are three kinds of wind, too much, too little and on the nose. We can honestly say this isn’t any of those. The wind is only averaging 17 kts. but with the steep seas it feels much stronger. Escape Velocity is having no trouble at all rising up over the waves, and the sails are steady and quiet. It’s her crew that are on edge, because the motion is unpredictable and any attempt to move around at all below is dicey at best. Mostly we park ourselves into a corner and read. Meals are grab ‘n’ go, whatever leftovers or snacks are available. Elaborate cooking is out of the question.
Our wind and wave reports say we will have two nights of this before it moderates just before we approach the islands. My night watch last night was not calm or restful. With the wind mostly from behind there’s no shelter in the cockpit so I stood my watch inside on the settee. Every 15 minutes my alarm reminded me to go outside and do the usual check for ships, course, sail set and so on. During the night the wind ranged from 14 to 20 kts, hardly a tempest, and a normal trade wind strength. But from the noise you would have thought it was a hurricane.
There were no little 15-minute catnaps and I did the constant time left math — I’m 1/4 done, I’m 1/3 done, I’m 1/2 done — until Jack came to relieve me at 1 am. When I crawled into bed I was still so tense that I fired up my Headspace meditation app and let the guide talk me through an exercise in relaxation. I eventually fell asleep.
This morning a half hour before my alarm I woke up with my whole body clenched against the movement of the boat in the building seas. When I came up to the bridge deck Jack was braced against the sink trying to make coffee. We looked at our weather info. It’s now a few days old so when we send this post we’ll order up a new wind and wave report and hope for signs of moderation.
We’re getting so close now we can almost taste it, and I guess EV can to because she’s heading for the barn.