Not So Slow and a Bit Nicer

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 1 May 2015 23:39
Noon Position: 58 02.0 N 137 08.1 W
Course: South East. Speed: 3 knots
Wind: South West, F2 gentle air
Sea slight, Swell South West 1.5 metres
Weather: mostly sunny, cool
Day's run: 100 nm sailed and made good.

We continue to enjoy very pleasant weather, if a little on the light side. Despite the light airs we have managed to make a creditable day's run of 100 nm, with which I am very pleased. My weather faxes are showing a nasty looking low pressure system a few hundred miles off to the south west which looks like it is heading our way, but according to the forecast I received from Yakutat yesterday and the grib files I downloaded we do not have anything to worry about for a couple more days. Nonetheless, I shall be keeping a close eye on the barometer and staying close to the coast in case we do need to seek shelter in a hurry.

The only bit of excitement, and that of a very minor nature, was an encounter last night with a fishing boat about 40 miles west of Cross Sound. I had gone on deck at around 3.30 am for a look around (in fact I was looking for a buoy that was marked on the chart and which we were supposed to have been within three miles of) and, instead of the buoy, spotted a steady white light ahead. Now a single white light does not tell one a lot. I knew it wasn't the buoy because the buoy was supposed to have been marked by a yellow light flashing in groups of four. However, the steady white light could have been the stern light of almost any vessel, or the masthead light of a power driven vessel hull down over the horizon, or a shore light (though not in this case), or even a star or an aeroplane (not uncommon mistakes for the novice lookout). Watching it closely for the next half hour I determined from its movement, appearance, and the fact that nothing was showing up on Sylph's AIS that it was most likely a small craft relatively close to us, most likely a fishing vessel, though its lack of movement made me wonder for a short while whether it might have been the stern light another sailing vessel heading in the same direction as us. But, on thinking about it, a couple of factors led me to discount this latter possibility pretty quickly. First, the likelihood that there would be someone else insane enough to be flopping around out here just for the hell of it seemed extremely remote, and second, the likelihood that Sylph might actually be overtaking another sailing vessel in these light winds seemed even more remote, nay, it borders on the incredible! (Sorry Sylph, but sometimes the truth hurts.) I decided to call the vessel up on the radio to find out her intentions. As I had little idea of what she was I identified her by her approximate latitude and longitude. No reply. I tried again. This time a slow slurred sleepy voice responded, “Could you repeat those numbers.” I did so.

“Yeah that's me. Let's go to channel 18.” I complied.

After we re-established contact the slurred voice said, “I'm just driftin'. I gotta get up in a couple of hours and go to work. Whadaya want?”

I replied, “I am the sailing vessel just to the north of you and wanted to know your intentions.”

“I just told you.”

“Roger, thank you. Sorry to disturb you. I shall attempt to remain clear of you.”


This last terse comment was not in fact a confirmation that my fellow mariner understood my intentions, but rather that the conversation was over, and that this grumpy passing acquaintance was returning to listening to the calling and distress frequency, channel 16, and presumably to his bunk. so, while my neighbour returned to his slumbers, Sylph and I continued on our way, keeping a close eye on the fishing vessel to make sure that we passed clear, while, I must confess, muttering some less than endearing words regarding some people's lack of common courtesy. I imagine that my neighbour was no doubt saying even less polite things about certain indolent yachties who have nothing better to do than disturb the rest of good, decent, hard working fishing folk.

From the above you can probably appreciate that things are pretty quiet
around here, which is fine by me. May they long remain that way.

All is well.