Lousy Night

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Tue 26 May 2009 17:41
Position: 43 38.7N 060 58.2 W (I think?)
Course: East Speed: 4 knots
Wind: Northwest, light breeze (now)
Weather: Sunny, cool, lumpy sea
Day's Run: 120 miles

A great day yesterday turned into a lousy night. The encroaching cloud cover and passing rain squalls were clear indications of a coming change and sure enough late yesterday afternoon the wind, after a few fits and starts, swung all the way round from the south to the northwest, which necessitated a gybe. Later in the evening, towards midnight, I came on deck to find the wind had suddenly increased dramatically. The seas were still flat so the wind strength was deceptive. We were running square, mainsail on one side and full jib poled out on the other, Sylph was trying to take off. It took me a while to get things under control, especially the big mainsail, and not before a luff cringle had been torn out, but that was the only damage so I am quite content, it could have been worse. The squall soon passed and the wind eased again but then still later the wind picked up fresh and steady from the northwest at a good 20 plus knots. With the mainsail damaged we ran before for the night under a partially furled jib. Now the mainsail is repaired, the wind has eased back to about 12 knots or so, the full jib is set but I am waiting for the seas to settle a little before hoisting the mainsail again. We are rolling quite heavily and I figure if I set the main it will probably flog and fray my nerves.

So far I have resisted turning the GPS back on, right now I reckon I'd be lucky if I knew where we were within a circle of 20 miles, and this after only a day at sea. Meridian Passage, when the sun is at its highest for the day and directly north or south, is just after 1 pm, so that should settle our latitude at least. I need to make sure we are well to the south of Sable Island, this patch of sand has claimed a lot of ships over the years and I don't want to add Sylph to the list - of course I could just turn the magic box on. As I am precariously balanced on the heavily rolling Sylph, swinging the sextant, trying to bring the sun down to the horizon, some part of the boat continuously getting in between me and the sun, watching out for the odd splash, I can see why we decided it was easier to build some rocket ships and launch a few satellites into orbit. The sun is shining, hopefully the sea will settle a bit later and we will be able to get a good set of stars tonight.

Bob Cat:

I am having my own difficulties finding the sun, out on the poop deck this morning, keeping an eye on things, looking for that patch of sun in which to bask, infernal sails!

All is well.