Sunday, June 7, 2009, 1:15 am
12degrees 4 minutes S; 147 degrees, 45 minutes W
The Gimbaled Life
We left Moorea three days ago, sailing into light winds. We are expecting to sail to windward on this leg, especially towards the equator, which we must cross to the east so that we can have the right sail angle in the NE trades to Hawaii.
The winds and seas built quickly and for the last two days we have been sailing upwind in 15-20 knots, a tough start to this long crossing: sea sickness, heeling boat, the effort required to do ordinary things like prepare food, brush your teeth, change into dry clothes.
Living on the boat becomes like living in the intertidal: water comes in any open hatches, or down into the cabin with us, dripping from our rain gear. Everything is slippery. Skin becomes clammy with salt and hair feels like the wall-to-wall carpet in an apartment I had once in the 80s.
Last night and all morning we passed through a vast area of vicious squalls, one lined up after another, some with winds of 30 knots, all with driving rain. At one point the sea and sky was so grey and stormy in every direction it felt like sailing off the coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands. The last squall was a huge dark mass, like a black hole, that seemed to suck everything in towards itself: light, water, wind. We shot out the other side, as if out the last gate of hell, into the blue.
Now we are sailing gently on easy waters, under a full moon. And, as if the gods noticed we deserved a break, the wind is westerly, so that we can make some precious easting.
Once again I think of our gimbaled stove, that simple but essential concept of swinging level no matter how thrown off balance, and how difficult it is to achieve. Its important to remember the third law of sailingdynamics (see post, April 11): THINGS CHANGE.
On these night watches I think of what people I love are doing. My computer is still set on west coast time, where it is early morning. Maybe my friends on Protection Island are already up, having a cup of coffee, wandering through their gardens to see whats in bloom and what the deer have eaten.
In Victoria, my son will be waking, planning his Sunday. My daughter will have just arrived on Baffin Island for her summer job. It will be, I think, around 9 in the morning. She will not have seen darkness at all tonight.
It has been strange to spend a year in perpetual summer. ClichÈ perhaps but the northern summers are so much sweeter, being hard wonlike this perfect night of moonlit sailing.