Mostly Calms and Fog

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 16 Jun 2014 06:01
Noon Position: 41 43.7 N 14218.5 E
Course: North east Speed: 3 knots
Wind: South east, F2 – light breeze
Weather: fog, cool
Day's Run: 20 nm (37 sailed and drifted)

Someone, I have not recorded who, once said that they would rather die of
thirst becalmed within three miles of port than have a smelly engine on
their boat. I am obviously not that much of a purist, though I have
contemplated it in the past, for I find an engine is just too useful for
manoeuvring in harbour and the like. Nonetheless I very much sympathise with
the sentiments of the forgotten sailor.

The reason I make this comment is that this morning I spoke with Larissa on
the VHF radio as they motored past. Suuhaa was also ahead of me. They had
both left port twenty four hours after Sylph and in less than a day had
overtaken her. In a couple of days I expect it will be impossible for me to
catch up. Nomzano, the other boat that was in Kushiro, has also departed, so
I am left alone in Japanese waters and by the time I reach the Aleutians all
my fellow cruisers will be long gone. Quite frankly the thought depressed me
a little and it made me think about my sailing principles, seeing the
distance they could make while I sit becalmed with an adverse current
pushing me back over the ground it had taken over six hours to make. Maybe
one day I will purchase an auto-pilot and increase Sylph's fuel capacity,
but somehow I doubt it. I recall a conversation with Mark, the skipper of
Larissa. He said that most people cruise as a means to visit places rather
than for the enjoyment of sailing, however I am one of those people who do
it mostly for the sake of sailing, and the various landfalls add a bit of
interest along the way.

To be rationalising my situation like this clearly indicates that I am not
totally convinced of my own argument, which is fine. It is no doubt a good
thing to review one's principles every now and again, and, on reflecting on
this one, I find I am still quite content with it, as it sets Sylph a little
apart from most of the crowd. We will see how I feel about my commitment to
motor free sailing at the end of this passage to Alaska as the accepted
wisdom is that the Aleutians requires a lot of motoring.

Meanwhile, along with the adverse current bringing cold waters down from the
Arctic, comes dense fog. Ships pass by within a mile or so, fog horns and
engines clearly audible, but naught to be seen of them. Thank goodness for
AIS! At the moment, as we try to work our way around Erimo Misaki, the
south eastern headland of Hokkaido, we are getting closer to the coast. This
has us moving outside of the main shipping lanes but closer to the coast
where we are likely to encounter smaller fishing vessels, most of which will
not have AIS. I shall have to keep a good listen-out. The "Watch Commander"
is set to 12 minutes. I can hear engine noises somewhere off the port bow,
but no sign of anything either on the AIS or visually.

At least we have enough breeze to be sailing. I am content.

All is well.