Vancouver Island artist/writer Alison Watt's journal, as she and her husband Kim Waterman, sail out of their lives for a year on their boat, Circadia.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Currently at 48 degrees, 06 minutes north, 132 degrees, 37 minutes west.
In retrospect our travel in the last several days has been concerned with the North Pacific High. A high pressure area has been developing in the area of 45 degrees north and 135 degrees west. On July 19 (at 44.33 N 141 W), after a few days of picking up the leavings of a weak low pressure system we were able to hoist the spinnaker heading due north in a southeast wind (starboard tack). During the next three days until 0430 this morning the wind gradually veered*, becoming southerly, then increasingly southwesterly. As a consequence we turned more east and by early this morning were actually having to sail a bit southeast to keep the sails full. What was happening is that we were sailing around the developing high and the winds we experienced were spinning out of it.
The high is developing into a ridge that extends from here to northern Vancouver Island and it is fusing with the main high to the south. At 0430 we jibed and are now heading a bit east of north, magnetic 15 degrees is our course. We hope that the wind continues to veer and will fuse with the northwesterlies that come down the BC coast. If so, we should find our course gradually coming more easterly so that we line up with the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
At 0430 it was broad daylight and I realized we were a bit late with our time zone changing.
The GRIB files suggest that this developing high will snuff those nice westerlies you are having on Friday/Saturday, and perhaps the last part of our voyage will be diesel powered.
*Veer, a verb, according to the OED means to let off a sheet, turn downwind, or for the wind to blow from more behind. It comes from an old french root. However it is used by modern sailors to describe when wind changes in a clockwise direction (looking at the planet) as opposed to "backing" when the wind is changing anti-clockwise, and somehow the OED people haven't picked this up tsk, tsk.
From a natural history point of view we were visited by a large herd of dolphins in the night, giving a great phosphorescent show. It appears they were staging under the hull and then springing forward in synchronized groups of 8 to 12 swimming abreast. This went on for at least half and hour and then I think they triggered the shallow depth alarm by sitting under the depth sounder, alarming the sleepers. By the time the kerfluffle was settled they were gone.
I am an artist and writer. I usually work from my home and studio on Protection Island (where I also teach painting). This year (Sept. 08-summer 09) I'm trying to keep the artist's life afloat as my husband and I take time out to sail in the Pacific.