Thursday, August 7, 2014

August 7 Position Report

8/7/14 Wandering Dolphin POS

0900 Seattle Time / 1500 GMT
N 48 06.10  W 137 49.31
COG 065T
SOG 4-5kt
DMG 105 nautical miles
DTG 580 nautical miles

Wind W10-12
Pressure: 29.9
Temp: 75F
Sky: overcast
Seas: 1-2 ft swells
Sails: main and genoa set

Good Morning,

Last night we were hit by a sudden squall.  Squalls are a part of life offshore.  They march across the horizon constantly in the tropics but in these higher latitudes if you are not looking closely they are sometimes very difficult to distinguish between all of the other clouds in the constantly overcast sky.  Being surprised and hit by a sudden squall used to happen to us fairly often and I actually didn't realize until we were surprised last night that this is something that doesn't happen to us with any regularity any more.

I never actually set out to attempt a seamanship cure of the problem of sudden squalls but just the experience of so many days at sea has done it.  So what are we doing different?  Well I can tell you right now that it is not the common answer to this problem which is reefing in all the way every night before it gets dark.  I used to do that the first couple of years we were out and it is not a bad answer in truth especially at the beginning.  I stopped doing it, again because almost all of my offshore miles were on deliveries where I am paid by the day.  In a situation where I am being paid I am motivated to get the boat to its destination in a timely manner.  So what is it?  The difference now is a very subtle one.  Everyone on board is attuned to the weather and the motion of the boat.  When it's dark out and we cannot see the squall coming we all notice when the boat gets a little jump in speed, even a tiny one, or the wind in the rigging whistles a just little higher, sometimes it's a sudden cold breeze on our cheeks that wasn't there a second ago that is warning of a cold wind shift.  Our minds have learned to interpret these little signals for what they are and without any discussion it's our rule that when ANYONE calls for a reef we do it right then with no discussion or waiting.

Reefing used to be a chore too.  If it is difficult to reef your boat you need to change your reefing system.  We have jiffy slab reefing and roller furling and everything is run back to the cockpit, no one ever has to go on deck and with two people we can reef in less than a minute.  I have delivered a lot of boats with roller furling mainsails and I know all of the negative press these things get but I can tell you from actual experience (I have at least 50,000 miles offshore delivering boats with roller furling mains) that this system is probably the very best for shorthanded reefing of a mainsail.  I have heard the "What if it gets stuck in the track?" concerns and I can tell you that this happens only if you don't know how to operate the system or you don't keep up with maintenance on your furling lines or sails.  We have had them jam on two different boats only two times total and in the first case it was my fault back when I didn't know how to use the system correctly and the second because the sail was old and worn.  In both cases we were able to free the jam within a couple of minutes.  I have never used an "in boom" reefing system but I do like the idea of keeping the weight of the sail low and being able to use it as a normal boom if the system did jam.  I love the fact that with both in mast and in boom furling you get infinite reef points and can make your sail exactly the size you want for the wind conditions.

I would change WD to either of these systems if I had the money.  I used plain old jiffy reefing on Sweetest Thing for a couple of years and it was great but with jiffy reefing someone has to go forward and take care of the luff of the main at the boom.  Sweetest Thing is a catamaran so going forward was not such a big deal.  I do like our jiffy slab reefing which is a one line version of the same system, it means the luff and the leech are both tended from the cockpit.  It's easy but takes a couple of people working well together to handle the reefing line and the halyard.  When we order our new main it will have three reef points rather than just two.  The third reef would be great in winds of 35-40 knots on our boat and would mean we could wait a little longer to put up the trisail and heave-to.

Whatever type of reefing system you have make sure you know how to use it before going offshore.  On deliveries with new crew or on a boat with a different reefing system than we've used before the very first day is spent doing reefing drills until we all feel confident that we could reef in a couple of minutes in pitch dark in rolling seas.  I would recommend you do the same.

Enough preaching.  So yesterday Beck made us pizza for supper and we have leftovers!  That never happens.  EmilyAnne also made some brownies with the last of our eggs.  Twenty-four days is the answer to your question Jim V.  It has been quite a bit cooler here than on a counter in Texas though!
The boys made forts all over the boat again after school.  It's downright funny to watch those boys have wars in such a small space but they don't care.  I got nailed in the cockpit by a nerf arrow and laid up there playing dead until they came up to retrieve the arrow then I came alive, pretended to be a troll and attacked their forts?

Terri from Florida thanks for the encouragement and if you want to avoid the tourist areas in Hawaii go to Hilo!  It was our favorite stop for that very reason.  Rent a car and see the Big Island!

Jim V.  Hope you like the Kestrel Saga, the writing is kinda cliche but it's a fun read.  I really like the Odyssey One, and Valkrie series by Evan Currie much better but I'm all out of new ones by him.

We are getting close!  I can almost taste the Big Mac.

Have a Wonderful Day,
Captain Tofer

No comments:

Post a Comment