Close Reaching

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Thu 13 Nov 2008 18:13
November 13, 2008
Noon Position: 36 27.8 N 069 05.9 W
Course: East Speed: 8.5 knots
Weather: Overcast, warm
Day's Run: 68 miles

As expected the high pressure system overtook us yesterday and left us
drifting for the most of the last 24 hours. I was teased with a few puffs
of wind which I threw some sail up into but each time had to lower it again
as the wind left us and the sails flogged against the rigging. Despite the
lack of wind we still covered a very respectable 68 miles thanks to the Gulf
Stream which averaged two knots thereby accounting for 48 miles of the 68

This forenoon the wind picked up from the southeast indicating that the high
had passed and we are now under all plain sail on a close reach making good
8 ½ knots (of course 2 knots of this is current).

We are well behind the Hosea Higgins who back in 1897 had excellent runs
each day of about 240 miles, not encountering any calms until four days out
which now puts me 600 miles behind. Today is day four for me, so now that
we have a fair wind maybe I will be able to catch up a bit. Also I figure I
will give myself a bit of a handicap to make it a bit more sporting - I
reckon if I aim for about 60% of the Higgins's run that should be
challenging enough. Mark, maybe you can start taking a few wagers on the
result, will I beat the Higgins to Cape Horn?

As mentioned yesterday I am also re-reading Josh Slocum's account of his
voyage (1895-1898), paying special attention to his passage through Magellan
Straits. What a sailor! If you haven't read his book and have the
slightest interest in sailing and adventure then this is a must read. The
Magellan Straits is my back up plan and to be honest the route I will most
probably end up taking. Yesterday I plotted out some of Slocum's passage
through the Magellan Straits. It was an extraordinary feat of seamanship,
his boat the Spray was a beamy, shoal draft Chesapeake Bay Oyster dredger;
gaff rigged and engineless. Many cruisers today have boats based on the
Spray's design but by modern standards they are unhandy and slow, I'd say
the only thing going for them is the internal volume is very large for their
size. If I go this way it will be very interesting to compare myself and
Sylph with old Slocum and Spray, not that I could hope to match Josh's level
of seamanship, he having been a master mariner in deep water sail for much
of his life, but we can aspire.

Bob Cat

Let me see, I don't read, regardless I doubt whether there is an account out
there of a cat who could hope to compare themselves with me. My story will
be "Bob Cat Sleeps Around the World".

All is well.