Merry Christmas

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 25 Dec 2013 04:10
Noon Position: 05 12.7 N 153 13.6 E
Course: North Speed: 6 knots
Wind: East nor' east, F5 fresh breeze
Sea: moderate Swell: North east 2 meter
Weather: cloudy, warm, and humid
Day’s run: 96 nm

We are starting to put on some miles now as we go deeper into the trade wind belt. Winds are blowing a steady 15 to 18 knots and gusting to maybe 30 knots when a rain squall passes over. A rain squall passing by just after sunset had us down to a double reefed mainsail and the number three jib. After it had passed we lost the wind but looking to the east, from which direction the squalls do come, all I could see was a dark sky, with a big black hole up to windward. I was loathe to set anymore sail when I could not see what was coming, so I left Sylph under-canvased to be safe. Despite the lack of sail we plodded along at a steady three knots, a little wind having returned, until just after eleven when the moon rose and there was light enough to have some idea of what was coming. I shook out a reef from the main, which was sufficient to have us making a comfortable four and a half knots.
Sylph's comfortable pace also attracted a couple of hitch hikers during the night. When I did my rounds at three I went up on deck there to see a gannet, head under wing, resting on the pushpit rail. No problem, I thought, but as I turned around to have a look out forward, I saw his companion, who was similarly perched, head under wing, on the aft edge of the dodger only a few feet away, apparently completely nonchalant about my being so close. I was not so happy with the second gannet's perch as his tail was hanging over the cockpit and I knew come morning there would be something of a mess to clean up. But I could not bring myself to disturb their rest. Life is a struggle for all of us, I thought, and we must offer solace and comfort to our weary brethren whenever we have the good fortune to do so. I consoled myself that a bucket of sea water would have everything cleaned up soon enough, so I left them to their fishy dreams and returned to my own perch down below.
Come dawn the wind was gradually freshening, our hitch hikers had departed, leaving a messy calling card as expected, and at six another rain squall passed over us, pretty much cleaning everything up. The squall ended up being short lived but had me putting the second reef back in. We have had a few more squalls go through since dawn and by mid-morning the wind had freshened to a steady force five, that is about 18 to 20 knots, causing us to surge along at a steady six knots. We are now approaching Micronesia and I hope to pass close by a few atolls and islands, to add a little interest to the ocean passage. The forecast is for the current conditions to continue for the next few days at least, so, barring misadventure, I expect we will continue to make good progress.
Merry Christmas.
All is well.