Well, the sevens of VMG were never going to last, but sixes are still an occasional feature of the helmsman/woman’s constant quest for the most efficient combination of angle and speed, so it’s not that bad. Sailing to wind isn’t something we’ve done a long stint of in quite a while. In fact, the last time we did days on days of close-hauled sailing which didn’t involve brutally crashing off waves coming up California Baja was way back on the run down to the Canaries, all those months ago, shortly after Christmas 2016.
Despite the usual challenges of life at 20° angle of heel, it’s actually quite enjoyable, but I think most of that is bringing back good memories of those first 2 weeks sailing Disco. They were just the most exhilarating few weeks sailing, everything about the boat new and exciting, an infectious enthusiasm with all aboard, and the whole package of conditions to properly initiate us into sailing Disco. We went through every sail bar the trisail (storm mainsail) in anger, and spent our new years ploughing through a gale under third reef and storm staysail – a sail plan that lasted us for days.
It was also our first test of the people aboard; a wonderful blend of energy, skills and experience. Of those original 9, I’ve still Ty and Henry aboard, both currently soundly asleep in the their bunks, exhausted from their latest cute movie watching session snuggled up together, the bromance that blossomed on those formative days still going as strong as ever. I feel incredibly lucky to still have their consistent contribution, both putting just as much effort and enthusiasm into all they do to keep this boat moving and together as they did in those first 12 days of our first taste of life on Discoverer. The value they continue to bring every bit as important and appreciated as the skills and personalities of the other newer faces aboard.
The boat is a bit more tired after the 15,000 or so nautical miles we’ve put on her since then, with a few more scrapes; each one holding the priceless commodity of a moment in time, in a particular bit of ocean, a unique bit of life lived out. Only one or two people probably know the full story behind each mark, scrape and scratch. There are a few I don’t know the full background to for sure, but I certainly have my suspicions about the circumstances in which they occurred, or like to think I do, to compliment my belief that nothing happens on this boat without me knowing it. I’m far from regretful for any of them, as each tells a piece of the journey, a lesson learnt, a memory for those that bore witness, and on occasion the reminder of a the valuable bit of life being lived in the edge, which would normally be followed by a display of teamwork and initiative found only on the deck of a sailing yacht far offshore. How could you regret anything that embodies all of that?
Anyway, enough of the reminiscing, back to today, a few hundred miles north of a small set of Pacific Islands generally referred to as ‘Hawaii’. After the activities of yesterday, the night was a smooth enough affair; with consistent progress being retained throughout the helming rotations of the now established and settled night watch routine.
Daylight saw the breeze lighten and back slightly, pushing us onto a more northerly course than before. This gave us enough reason to shake the mainsail back out to its full potential, and this saw us through until lunchtime with good speed. After several hours of flitting between 5kts and 20kts, the wind finally settled somewhere in the middle, giving rise to the fabled yankee 1. I don’t think the yankee 1 has seen the light of day since somewhere up the southern coast of Mexico, as the genoa has been our ‘go to sail’ for most lighter airs sailing since then. Luckily, it doesn’t seem to have disintegrated in its bag, and is now pulling us along at a well powered up ≥8kts. The use of the word ‘pulling’ is a very specific reference to conversation last year with my good friend Tony about a common misconception of the way in which sails function upwind; a memory of good times and people in San Diego last summer. No one better to have a conversation about the aerodynamics of sails with than a tame 747 pilot.
The track on our chart plotter shows a few sneaky ‘hove-tos’ during the night, the consequences of momentary lapses of concentration, pushing the envelope of ‘best to wind’ those few degrees too far, or a quick dash below to wake the next helm in the solo watch routine that is life with only 5 aboard.
Culinary pursuits are going well so far, Henry producing a shredded/fried potato with salad lunch which was just the ticket. Henry is obviously trying to make up for the fact he’s decided to come aboard with no lighters, so seems to have appropriated the single remaining galley lighter for his own personal uses, a hugely contentious move. We’re either going to have to permanently fix the lighter to the stove, or Henry to the galley. I’ll have a think on which would be more constructive in the grand scheme of sailing to LA later, but for now the jury is very much out. I wonder if Sikaflex or epoxy would work best between boy and galley? Better use both to be sure.
Date: 22nd June 2017
Position: 24°19.6N 156°03.6W
Wind: NE 3
Swell: NE 3
Sky: Stratocumulus 4/8
With the support of our partner Weather Routing Inc.
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