The Voyage to Nowhere

Passage Notes

An view of the galley while sailing in stiff winds and lumpy seas. The left-hand picture looks pretty normal until you notice the gimbaling stove at a weird angle, likewise for the hanging baskets in the background. The right-hand picture has been rotated on the computer to make the camera's viewpoint level; sure enough, the stove now looks level. This is about 25° of heel, which is greater than the typical angle of heel we experienced.

Friday, May 28, 2004 (Day 2 of the Juan Fernández Passage)

Last night there were times when it was pretty rough, with the boat pitching and rolling and sometimes synchronizing with the swell causing it to wallow from side to side. Sails and various other rigging and hardware were banging and clattering and I don't think I got any sleep. After 15 days at anchor I am out of practice and need to reacclimatize to the motions and sounds of passagemaking.

Adding to my discomfort, it also seemed unusually warm last night. There were several nights at anchor when I was chilly and wore my sweatshirt and hood to bed. To solve this problem I had put another blanket on my bed, doubled-up so it was like two blankets. But for some reason the weather last night was warm and the extra blanket was a nuisance. The bed linens also got bunched up and wrapped around me, which is something that really annoys me and makes it harder to sleep.

Due to the noise and motion, poor Jelly got scared and hopped up into my bunk while I was sleeping (or trying to). Although Marcie and David let Jelly sleep on their bed, I don't want her to sleep on mine. The linens are already dirty and smelly enough, and I don't want them smelling like dirty wet cat, too. Part of the problem is that when Jelly is really scared, she cowers in a tiny little compartment directly under the toilet in the forward head. Needless to say, this compartment is damp and dirty so her fur gets wet and soiled. Then she wants to hop up into my bed—I don't think so! However, last night she had all her claws desperately hooked into the bed linens and was so dug-in I was unable to dislodge her (I let her stay a while).

I arose early and slowly got ready for my 8:00 a.m. watch. Marcie said she had lots of rain on her watch, but my morning watch was OK. The sun came out for a while, which was nice. The seas were quite confused and lumpy, though, and there seemed to be significant swell coming from two directions, plus wind waves.

During my morning watch I started chipping away at our garbage problem. We were far enough from land to dispose of certain items, so I tossed overboard bottles, cans, paper towels, and tissues, then ripped up and tossed paper, cardboard boxes, egg cartons, etc. Before I tossed bottles overboard Marcie filled them with seawater from the tap in the galley, which ensures they will sink. Steel cans will sink quickly in the choppy seas, so I didn't always puncture the bottoms. However aluminum beer cans must always be punctured in multiple places since they are so light they will easily float.

During the day a few squalls passed by, accompanied by rain and strong winds, but so far I have lucked out and the squalls have happened on somebody else's watch. Given the amount of unsettled weather, though, it's inevitable that I will get my share of squalls. It was funny today—a squall was approaching as the end of my watch drew near. David poked his head up the companionway, and noticing the squall, opined that it ought to hold off for a half hour or so, until he started his watch. I replied, "Certainly, because I have a 'no rain' clause in my crew contract!" This is a joke about how he always seems to get the worst rain on his watches, and that as a crew member coming along for the ride, I didn't particularly want to get rained on.

On my dog watch, the wind shifted and I did a controlled jibe (with Marcie's help) to get back on track. The wind would have been dead aft, so we steered off-course so the sails could draw better. For most of the day we sailed with a double-reefed main and reefed jib; we occasionally hit seven knots and did in the mid-six-knot range for a while. Toward evening we took in the third reef on the main and reduced the jib, in preparation for whatever the night might bring.

I haven't had a shower in several days and haven't even washed my hair. I'm feeling (and looking) very dirty and would love to wash my hair. Unfortunately, it's too bumpy and rolly to do this—you'd get thrown around inside the head and water would go everywhere but where you wanted it. On top of that, just after dinner we started having a problem with the electric freshwater pump: the pump would run but no water would come out of the tap. We had just switched tanks after emptying the first tank and now the second tank was showing signs of being empty, too. That wouldn't be good—three people at sea with no fresh water—but David assured us that he had looked inside the second tank and it really was full (we also have a watermaker). So there is a plumbing problem somewhere, which is yet another item for the to-do list. Even though I'm dirty, I don't think I can wash my hair until the plumbing problem is fixed and our freshwater supply is assured.

It's now getting close to my 8:00 p.m. to midnight watch, and I can hear it blowing topsides as a squall passes. I'm sitting in the saloon, comfortably and securely perched on the settee, writing in my journal. But in a few minutes, I'll have to don my sweatshirt, foul-weather gear, shoes, harness, and headlamp and go on deck into the wind, rain, and darkness. All in a day's work, and to tell the truth, I like the challenge and adventure and don't really mind the inclement weather. Inclement weather, like many transient phenomena, is here today, gone tomorrow.

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