Running Free

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 21 Sep 2015 20:07
Noon Position: 44 13.8 N 126 35.0 W
Course: south Speed: 6 knots
Wind: north, F4 moderate breeze
Sea: moderate. Swell: west, 2 meters
Weather: sunny
Days run: 140

At 17.12, precisely, and right on time the front passed over us. The wind freshened and veered into the north. I was sitting below tapping away on my keyboard at the time, working on an assignment. I knew at once what was happening, as Sylph suddenly heeled over and, with the wind vane following the shift in the wind direction, Sylph careered around to starboard to settle on a north westerly heading. I donned foul weather gear, as a light patter of rain was falling, went on deck and eased sheets and adjusted the wind vane so that we resumed our southerly heading. Now, with the wind behind us, Sylph leapt away over the seas at seven knots. I decided it might be best to dampen her enthusiasm a little, and put a second reef in the mainsail, before poling the heavily furled headsail out to starboard so to balance the helm and make it easier for the windvane to hold us on course.

A few hours later, a little before midnight, the front was past, the sky had cleared, the stars were out and the big dipper stood large and bright over the northern horizon, and a half moon glowed yellow through some clouds off the starboard bow. The wind had eased a little which allowed me to shake out a reef in the mainsail and unroll a bit more headsail. Our speed had dropped, but with the extra bit of sail we were still making good close to six knots.

While looking around on deck I had noticed another vessel out to the west, It was not showing up on AIS, and with the aid of the binoculars I concluded that it must be another sailing vessel running parallel to our course. I tried to call her up on the VHF but received no reply. I wondered who she might be, where she had come from, where she was heading, and whether we might meet in San Francisco. I continued to keep an eye on her during the night but by dawn she had gradually overhauled us and had disappeared beyond the southern horizon.

Now the sun is shining ahead of us. Sylph is romping along running wing on wing before the fresh following breeze, rolling to the westerly swell and occasionally dipping her starboard gunwale into the deep and dark blue sea. A white bow wave hisses and foams ahead while a silent frothy wake trails astern.

All is well.