Trade Wind Sailing

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 5 Feb 2016 22:45
Noon Position: 20 40.4 N 116 45.3 W
Course: West sou' west Speed 5.5 knots
Wind: North nor' east, F4 moderate breeze
Sea: moderate Swell: north west 2 meter
Weather: overcast, mild
Day's run: 149 nm

In the harbour, in the island, in the Spanish Seas,
Are the tiny white houses, and the orange-trees,
And day-long, night-long, the cool and pleasant breeze
Of the steady Trade Winds blowing

There is the red wine, the nutty Spanish ale,
The shuffle of the dancers, the old salt's tale,
The squeaking fiddle, and the soughing in the sail
Of the steady Trade Winds blowing.

And o' nights there 's fireflies and the yellow moon,
And in the ghostly palm-trees the sleepy tune
Of the quiet voice calling me, the long low croon
Of the steady Trade Wind blowing.

John Masefield

So I think it is fair to say that we are now in the north-east trades. The wind is soft, warm and steady, and has veered sufficiently into the north-east such that this morning I could pole the jib out to starboard. We once more run wing on wing, the wind off our starboard quarter. The seas are still a little lumpy, but this is the Pacific, a misnomer if ever there was one, not the Atlantic, which is of course the ocean that Masefield was writing about.

Personally I am not a big fan of trade wind sailing, especially single-handing, as while they make a nice change from the challenges of high latitude sailing, after a while they can get a tad dull. Mind you, my last crossing of the Pacific kept me on my toes. It's that damned South Pacific convergence zone that causes all the trouble, but we won't be dealing with that for a while, and I expect that we should enjoy relatively pleasant sailing conditions for the rest of our passage to Hawaii.

I knew I could trust old Masefield to have a poem on the trade winds. I opened my old 1934 edition of his collected poetry, and there it was, right above “Sea Fever”. And below it, for a friend:

A Wanderer's Song

A wind 's in the heart of me, a fire 's in my heels,
I am tired of brick and stone and rumbling wagon wheels;
I hunger for the sea's edge, the limits of the land,
Where the wild Atlantic is shouting on the sand.

Oh I'll be going, leaving the noises of the street,
To where a lifting foresail-foot is yanking at the sheet,
To windy, tossing anchorage where yawls and ketches ride,
Oh I'll be going until I meet the tide.

And I'll hear the sea-wind, the mewing of the gulls,
The clucking, sucking of the sea about the rusty hulls,
The songs of the capstan in the hooker warping out,
And then the heart of me 'll know I'm thereabout.

Oh I am tired of brick and stone, the heart of me is sick,
For a windy green, unquiet sea, the realm of Moby Dick;
And I'll be going, going, from the roaring of the wheels,
For a wind 's in the heart of me, a fire 's in my heels.

All is well.