Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 5 Jun 2009 16:22
Noon Position: 45 26.0 N 040 30.0 W
Course: East Nor'east Speed 2knots
Wind: south, very light
Weather: Overcast, mild. Sea: slight, low swell
Day's Run: 115 miles

Not a bad day's run, most of it posted yesterday afternoon, in fact by mid-afternoon we had a reef in the mainsail and the jib partially furled and were still making a brisk 6 ½ knots - and the sun was shining, a perfect afternoon on the ocean waves. But by midnight the wind had noticeably eased, I unfurled the jib, we were still making better than five knots so I left the reef in the mainsail overnight to keep things a little more comfortable.

At 6 am, during my morning scan of the horizon I saw a high aspect grey sail off our port bow, it had to be a racing boat, I tightened sheets and came up on to the wind, what there was of it, to have a closer look. We got close enough for a gam, the racer's skipper poking his head out on deck a short while after I had spotted him. The gam was short as obviously he was not going to heave to to stop a bit of idle chatter, just long enough to exchange destinations and fare each other well. He is bound for Newport, competing in the OSTAR race. I caught his boat on video and will post a clip to You Tube when I get the chance. It was an impressive little boat and inspired me to trim the sails and squeeze a few more nano-knots out of the old Sylph. But we're in it for the long haul, not some piddley little trans-Atlantic Races for us, so we'll forgive ourselves if we aren't straining every sinew and fibre to get the last ounce of speed out of Sylph, rather we must conserve her and keep her going for as long as we can, we have a long way to go yet and our budget is undoubtedly just a smidgen tighter than an OSTAR boat.

And if you want the last word on the definition of a gam well you will need to read Moby Dick, one of America's greatest novels.

It didn't take long for our young thoroughbred ocean companion to drop astern, and we were once more surrounded by an unbroken horizon, and not very long after an unmoving unbroken horizon, the wind abandoned us and left Sylph wallowing on the small swell, the mainsail crashing and banging in its usual fashion when there is insufficient wind to keep it full. This soon started to drive me nuts and motivated me to climb the mast to sort out the drifter halyard. I put some thought into the chafing problem, my first solution, screwing a fairlead block to the masthead resulted in the loss of one screwdriver over the side, not having an endless supply of tools on board I sought an alternative. Solution Mk II was something a little more temporary, using a nylon thimble as a fairlead and lashing it to the top of the starboard cap shroud. Now the halyard is reeved, the drifter is up, the mainsail and jib are down - no more slatting, there is just enough wind to keep the drifter drawing, the wind vane steering, and old Sylph moving along in roughly the right direction at a couple of knots.

Bob Cat

I must say it is warming up quite nicely, maybe my global cooling theory needs some tweaking. I might just sleep on it for a bit. Zzzzzzz,

All is well.