Even Better

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 12 Jan 2014 05:25
Noon Position: 23 14.4 N 136 17.0 E
Course: West nor' west Speed: 6.5 knots
Wind: North east, F4 fresh breeze
Sea: moderate Swell: north 2 meters
Weather: overcast, mild
Day's run: 160 nm

Later in the afternoon the wind had abated significantly. A little after midday I set the jib again, which had Sylph accelerate from 5.4 to 7.4 knots, but by late afternoon the wind had dropped further to about twelve to fifteen knots, and we were back down to five knots in speed. I de-rigged the third reef, re-rigged the first reef, and set the full mainsail, which gave us an extra knot. I was actually feeling quite jolly at this point, as here I was expecting a bone jarring bash over a lumpy sea, and a tight reach in a strong breeze, and here we actually were having quite a pleasant time under full sail. Dinner was a three star creation (for me at least); freshly chopped onion and garlic, pan fried, stirred in a Venetian pasta sauce and a small can of tuna, over penne pasta, topped with Parmesan cheese. RC of course got his cut of the tuna, as he always does. The small joys of life are often the best.
But the peace was not to last for long. After sunset the wind began to freshen again, and at seven thirty I put in a reef, and at eight thirty, the second. We were back up to seven plus knots. I contemplated furling the jib, however Sylph seemed to be handling the conditions well. The wind and sea were sufficiently on the beam to make for a fast and relatively comfortable ride, so I decided to leave things be unless conditions changed.
So we have made good distance overnight, and have made a little more northing than I had expected, which is a good thing, as it will give me a bit more flexibility if the strong northerly winds arrive on Wednesday as forecast. Meanwhile I have had a tropical depression building up in the Philippines pointed out to me by one of Sylph's shore support team (thanks Sylvia). I shall be keeping a close eye on it but looking at current forecasts it does not look like it should cause us too much grief.
This morning a large ship, the MV New Direction, passed close by, heading south from the main islands of Japan. He was going to pass very close so I called him up on the VHF to make sure he could see me. In response he did a huge turn to starboard, going round in front of Sylph. I think he must not have had a very good appreciation of our course and speed. I expect we will see quite a few more ships as we get closer.
Meanwhile, I entertain myself primarily with reading, as usual. I have finished Lawrence's “Women In Love”, and also one of Shakespeare's so called 'problem plays', “Troilus and Cressida”, so called because these problem plays do not fit into any usual genre of the period. They are neither comedy nor tragedy, nor even tragic-comic. Nonetheless I found the play almost presages a modern absurd perspective. The characters seem very real, flawed, and sometimes incomprehensible, and events are continually conspiring against their plans and expectations. “Women in Love” on the other hand I found rather disappointing. I think “Troilus and Cressida” says something more current and relevant about relationships between people than Lawrence's much more recent attempt, and of course with unequalled style.
Also I continue to read Don Patterson's “Reading Shakespeare's Sonnets”. Patterson has my vote as one of the most interesting critics I have read. He is scholarly but irreverent and witty, if at times a little heavy handed. Without his commentary I am sure the average modern reader, i.e. me, would find many of the sonnets impossible to comprehend, and also rather dull. But with his commentary, they are mostly fascinating, and Patterson is often hilarious. When I have a real slow day, and plenty of battery power, I might type out an extract to give you an example. I would highly recommend it to anyone with even half an interest in poetry. And lastly, I have started reading a bit of Chaucer. He did a version of “Troilus and Creseyde” as well, basically the same story but treated very differently, so this has me intrigued for the moment. Trying to follow Chaucer's English is difficult, but interesting.
The AIS alarm has just gone off. Another large ship approaches. Time to attend to the world around me, and Sylph.
All is well.