Day 126 – Losing the Trades

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 18 Apr 2022 08:51
Noon Position: 08 47.9 S 068 34.9 E
Course: N Speed: 2 knots
Wind: SE F2 Sea: smooth
Swell: SE 1.5m
Weather: sunny, hot, humid
Day’s Run: 77nm

The winds are getting lighter as we get further north and start to move out of the energetic trade winds and into the hot and humid lethargy of the doldrums.
Since this morning, at around 0400, Sylph’s speed has dropped to three knots and then this forenoon, at 1035, the wind had veered into the SE which meant if we wanted to remain approximately on course than we had to bear away from what little breeze there was and pole the jib out to run wing-on-wing. Now, as the more dedicated of Sylph’s followers will know, running wing-on-wing is generally Sylph’s favourite point of sail, except for when the winds are very light when she would much prefer to be on a close reach. This is because when the winds are light putting the wind abaft the beam makes the apparent wind even lighter and Sylph’s speed actually drops off. But, if in light airs we can keep the wind a little forward of the beam then Sylph’s motion adds to the breeze (for the less nautically inclined reader, think of sticking your hand out of the window of a car when moving at say 60kph). The sails can actually draw energy out of this apparent wind and even an old lady like Sylph goes faster in light winds with the wind forward of the beam.
So this forenoon we have all but drifted. However, there is always some positive to be made out of nearly every situation and I have used the calm sunny weather to break out the paint pots from the lazarette and attend to the odd rust spot that has inevitably broken out after all this time at sea. Ideally I would like to emulate the old time sailing ships that used to arrive in their port of destination looking bright as a pin and in better shape than when they started their voyage. Unfortunately, Sylph being so close to the water and as our final leg will be back down towards the roaring forties, and in the middle of winter, I doubt whether that ambition will be realised. But we can try.
All is well.