Lee Cloths Before a Strong Breeze

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 6 Jun 2009 17:05
Noon Position: 46 58.5 N 039 26.2 W
Course: East Nor'east Speed 5 knots
Wind: North, moderate
Weather: Broken cloud, mild. Sea: slight, low swell
Day's Run: 113 miles

I had given up in disgust with the drifter early yesterday afternoon, at one
point it was pulling us 180 degrees in the wrong direction, not that we were
moving at any great clip, less than ½ a knot, but it is a little
demoralizing to be pointing in the wrong direction. We drifted around for
about an hour with all sails down, the drifter draped over the foredeck ready,
waiting to be hoisted to catch the slightest wisp of breeze, then, at about
4 pm, I felt a gentle puff, it was from the east, that is on the bow, or at
least on the bow if I could get the bows to point in the right direction, so
we had to wait awhile for the wind to fill in a bit more so that there would
be enough pressure to fill the mainsail and jib. At 4.20 pm, I judged we had
enough and the mainsail and jib went up, by 6 pm the wind was a steady 15
knots and we reduced down to one reef in the main and about 80 % jib. At
6.40 we were struck by a gust that caught the jib aback, right in the middle
of my second helping to a tasty vegetable curry, we hung for a minute, it
wasn't certain whether we were going to fall back on the original tack or go
fully aback, a spoonful of curry hung midway from plate to mouth,
should I put my spoon down? Regrettably I decided yes, stowed the dish under the
dodger, unlashed the wheel to try and get us on track but it was too late,
we were aback. Not a problem, I let everything draw across in a flurry of
flying sheets and flogging sails, and soon had everything back under
control, once again crashing to weather, the wind hard on the nose. Time for
another reef. Once that was done and things were somewhat more sedate we
tacked back to our original tack, making good east nor'east close hauled on
the starboard tack.

During the night the wind remained fresh but gradually backed through east
into the north. This meant our course followed the wind and by 3 am we were
heading slightly west of north (west by north to be nautical about it). It
was still dark and stormy, well windy (actually the seas were pretty flat
for the strength of wind which was great, Sylph powered forward flinging
spray from her bows like a dog running and shaking water from its coat) so I
decided I'd wait until dawn's first light before tacking again. At 4.40 am I
donned foul weather gear and joined the fray in the cockpit. Actually by
this time the wind had moderated a little so once we had tacked I shook out
a reef, eased sheets a little and powered Sylph back up to 6 knots - well
that's pretty fast for the old Sylph, especially if a bit of a sea is

The low pressure system which brought the wind has now passed on and behind
it the cloud is breaking up a little, I have managed to get a couple of sun
sights so we have a vague idea of where we are. And now we are back under
full sail, beam reaching across a fresh north wind.

Bob Cat:

There is this thing called a lee cloth, a piece of canvas that skipper Bob
puts up when the bunk is leaning a certain way and the ship is trying to
throw us out of the bunk and onto the floor (I should say deck, but us salty
sea cats wouldn't want to lose our faithful followers with too much nautical
jargon - unlike someone else on board) . While it is well and good when it
is up, helping one to stay put and focus on one's occupation, it can also be
nuisance. To go and check the food bowl (I live in hope), or for other
necessary chores, it means I have to climb up and over it and jump down to
the floor/deck which is now further away by over a foot, and with the boat
rolling and moving in other less than graceful perambulations this is not a
trivial matter. Then there is the problem of getting back in, normally a
good loud cat call does the trick and I get lifted back into the bunk. You
would think skipper Bob would have this item sorted out, after all
functionally it is by far the most important part of the boat's structure,
the galley would come a close second, that is if there was any half decent
food being produced from it, but as there isn't it is a complete waste of
space and may as well be thrown overboard.
Well the lee cloth is down now so back to it. Zzzzzz.

All is well.