Slowly Working

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 10 Jan 2010 15:15
Position: 40 03.1 S 059 40.8 W
Course: West by north Speed 4.5 knots
Wind: South west, gentle breeze
Weather: Sunny, mild
Day´s Run: 74 nm (105 nm distance sailed)

We are slowly working our way to the southwest. It looks like a front will pass through our area sometime tomorrow so I want to be closer to the coast to avoid large seas but unfortunately the piece of coast within striking range (hmm, bad choice of words - let us rather say within a reasonable distance) is complex, shoal and subject to strong currents so we don´t want to be too close.

We have experienced a variety of conditions over the past 24 hours; yesterday afternoon we were on a square run before a northerly which soon died away to a zephyr and left us rolling in a small swell. I thought to run the motor for a while to recharge batteries and give it a bit of a workout. Diesels like to work but due to my philosophy of sailing as much as possible Sylph´s machine rarely gets the opportunity. And with a little bit of luck I thought maybe we could dislodge a few of those barnacles. This was of course pure optimism on my part and on starting the engine the maximum revs it could achieve was 1800. I looked around, while Sylph was still moving about a fair bit, the water temperature was a pleasant 20 degrees C. I decided I was unlikely to get a better opportunity for a long time to scrub the prop, as we head south the water is only going to get colder and rougher. Dropping sail I pulled out mask, snorkel and fins. tied the ladder to the side and reluctantly lowered myself into the water. The water was actually quite peasant and refreshing and at least it was a lot clearer and cleaner than the water in the marina back at Mar Del Plata. The main disadvantage was Sylph´s stern plunging up and down and rolling from side to side. I duck dived down, scraper secured to my wrist with a short lanyard, and after several dives the prop was much cleaner, as was I. Inevitably one receives a few nicks and scratches form the sharp edges of these little crustaceans and being somewhat small lunged I find I cannot stay down very long, after perhaps only 20 seconds I am bursting for breath trying to get one last scrape off before pushing my way to the surface. The prop plunging up and down didn´t help proceedings but it wasn´t too bad and I was soon back in the cockpit, towelled off and enjoying the sunshine as we now motored along at a much more respectable 2300 rpm. I am pleased with myself for getting an unpleasant job out of the way but I shall still be looking for an opportunity to careen to do a more thorough job and also to give the hull a bit of a scrub. Really we need a haul out but there isn´t going to be an opportunity for one for many miles to come, new sails have depleted the cruising coffers so we will make do with things as they are.

In less than an hour some breeze returned and we were close reaching on the port tack to a gentle south easterly. By sunset the wind had backed into the northeast and we were once more running square, wing on wing with the jib poled out to port. As the sky darkened the clear dry atmosphere displayed as many stars as I have ever seen, the Magellanic clouds like two small soft balls of cotton wool to the south east and the milky way a distinct belt flowing overhead. Some lightning flashed low on the distant horizon to the northeast, but undoubtedly very high up in the charged atmosphere. Oh to be a poet so that I could convey some of the beauty of such nights! I do my best with what limited powers I have.

By 2 a.m. the wind had continued to back and was in the northwest, I dropped the pole and we were back to beam reaching, then as the wind continued to back, close reaching, close hauled, and as the sun rose at 5.45 and the light increased we tacked, the wind now on the nose, a dead muzzler, we continue close hauled on the port tack trying to close the coast before the front and strong south-westerlies arrive. The sun is shining in a clear blue sky and Sylph leans gently to her sails full bellied with a clean crisp breeze.

All is well.

Bob Cat:

Thank goodness for daytime. Certainly when we are at sea nights are not so good for sleeping, the skipper always seems to be doing something and, in accordance with my remit from Mary, trying to give the skipper a bit of company is not easy, always bobbing up and down. Still, now he has vacated the settee berth for the while and I can catch up on some . . . Zzzzzz.