Judgment Day

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 16 Aug 2008 17:50
Noon Position: 48 33.7 N 052 51.2 W

Course: South 6 knots

Wind: South sou'-west, moderate breeze

Weather: Sunshine, clear skies

Day's Run: 108 miles

That's a good days run considering we flopped around like an untrained seal for half the night. The weather pattern is starting to feel like ground hog day, each a repeat of the last, fresh winds during the day and calms at night on top of a messy sea left over from the day's fresh winds. Most of yesterday was spent broad reaching (that's with the wind just abaft the beam - hmm, do I need to explain that as well?) with about 40% jib and the mainsail furled. About mid afternoon the wind was up to force 7, touching 8, that's about 35 knots. As reported yesterday I was trying to make ground to the west so as to be in a good position for the southwesterly and to make for a convenient port if necessary. The wind started to back and ease a little during the small hours, I responded by setting the mainsail again with two reefs, to keep our speed up and hold our head up into the wind. At 1.35 a.m. we made landfall, raising Cape Bonavista light off our starboard bow. And at 5.30 the wind was dead; once more crash, bang, slop, rattle, shudder as we pitched, rolled and gyred in the confused seas with no wind to steady us. These conditions make for my most irritable moments, especially when I am tired, I was actually grateful last night I was single handing so no one had to put up with me, it's bad enough putting up with myself. Bob Cat and I make a great couple of grumpy old sentient creatures. I fell into my bunk, boots and all to sleep off the grumps.

Honk, honk, honk. What was that? Can I hear voices? I had only just crawled into my bunk when I climbed out of the deep well of my sleep wondering what was going on. I could definitely hear voices and hooting. I went out on deck and was there greeted by a wall of steel topped with spot lights shining down on me. Inscribed on the white wall was Psalm 107, "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep . ." OK, I'm not ready for the final judgment yet. It was a large modern trawler. They had obviously seen me drifting around and had come over to make sure we were OK. I yelled back, hiding my irritation as best I could that yes, all was well, and gave them the thumbs up. They left looking a little disappointed I think. I went back to my bunk.

At 9 a.m. the ensign was fluttering gently, the swell was still rolling in confusedly, but the wind looked strong enough to hold the sails firm - sails up sheeted in tight as we now had to work against a southerly. The forecast southwesterly is yet to be seen. Oh well, only 4 points off. (A point is 11 ½ degrees derived from the old cardinal compass points - so 4 points is 45 degrees. It sounds an odd number but in fact when you think about it the cardinal points are a natural measurement, arrived at by continually dividing a circle in half, whereas who decided there ought to be 360 degrees in a circle?)

Now what? The low in fact has passed well to the south and is now well out into the Atlantic no doubt making life miserable for other mariners earning their living on the deeps of the sea. The sou'-westerly is forecast to strengthen this afternoon but looks quite manageable. For now we press on, with luck St Johns sometime tomorrow. The sun is shining.

All is well.

Bob Cat: