Saturday, June 10, 2006

Surfing downwind

Last night was more roly than normal, with all the attendant crashes and bangs from the lockers, with the result that the lockers became progressively more stuffed with tea-towels and rags during the night in a vain attempt to calm their excitable contents. Consequently sleep was harder than normal, I'd try to blank out the roll-roll-crash, roll-roll-crash that was keeping me awake, eventually giving in and drag myself out of my berth to locate the culprit. No sooner was I settled down again when the periphery of my hearing would start to tune in to some other loose item crashing around. It must have been noisy as the crashes even penetrated Ellen's ear-plugs. We both managed some sleep, but were definitely a few hours down at dawn.

On my middle watch, I found George the wind-vane, performing a valiant job trying to keep Kika running down-wind as she surfed down the waves. It was impressive watching as the vane turned the wheel one way then the other, as we yawed and rolled through the large sea. I decided to try to improve on George's performance and my tiredness vanished with the exhilaration of hand-steering as we surfed through the seas, often accelerating to over nine knots. Spent a great hour with one eye on the wind-angle, the other tracking the compass and the speed, while attempting to keep a fairly steady course and minimise the rolling. Ultimately I succumbed to my tiredness and let George take over with a much reduced head-sail.

I've completed a little program which animates the courses of our group of boats crossing the Pacific. A by-product is that it's been straight-forward to calculate average daily distances for each of the boats. I'm beginning to understand Peter Snow's fascination with his swing-o-meter, as I compared averages, maximum daily runs and anticipated arrival dates. I'm sorry to disappoint our supporters, but I wouldn't rush out to Ladbrokes and place any sizable sum of money on Kika keeping the lead to Fatu Hiva, or if you do at least make sure you've got great odds. It looks inevitable that our colonial cousins on Zefferin will over-take us in the next few days, despite our valiant efforts. They are averaging 175 nm days and are only 55 nm away. Still we'll hold them off as long as we can and look-forward to a mid ocean rendezvous in a few days time.

It's been a beautiful clear, sunny day with perfect sailing conditions and consequently fairly uneventful. We've been making good progress under full sails down-wind, while lounging around and catching up on sleep. Around 4pm we thought we try to catch a fish for supper, and although we've been lucky before at this time, tonight we ended up with beef, peas and mash; two of the three from a can.
Position @ 19:50 UTC:S06°38' W116°07'
Daily distance run: 160 nm
Distance to go: 1357 nm
Cumulative distance: 1488 nm
Engine hours:0
Wind: SE 15-30 knots
Weather: moderate/rough sea, variable cloud cover, 1012 millibars,
gusts upto 30knots

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