Day 135 – Counting Chickens

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 27 Apr 2022 09:25
Noon Position: 02 28.5 N 069 08.1 E
Course: NNE Speed: 1 knots
Wind: NW F2 Sea: calm
Swell: SW 0.5m
Weather: sunny, hot, humid
Day’s Run: 60nm

We continued to make steady progress with the gentle W’ly breeze until sunset, when a large cloud, towering white and voluminous into the heavens, squatting dark and threatening at its base, and extending either side as far as I could see, lay across our path. We had no choice but to continue into its ominous folds. As we entered I could see flashes of diffused light above us, lightening high up in the cloud. There did not appear to be any unusual wind activity, apart from the usual freshening of the breeze from the outflow ahead of such clouds; however, to be safe I put two reefs in the mainsail and furled most of the genoa. We continued on into the cloud doing five to six knots even with the reduced sail area.
Some light rain fell and the breeze started to ease. I hung onto the reduced sail for a while longer as such large thunderheads can have sudden downflows or microbursts of strong winds that have dismasted ships in their day. But an hour later nothing untoward had occurred, the cloud was starting to dissipate and a fitful breeze was coming in from the east, the opposite direction to what it was blowing when we entered the cloud. We trimmed sheets and sailed on. But not for long.
By 2100 we were once more under a clear canopy of stars but with no wind. We were drifting and the sails were slatting as Sylph rolled to the slight swell. I handed sail and turned in for a while.
I set sail a couple of times during the night to the hint of a promise of a breeze and we made a few miles, mostly to the east between midnight and three, but by four the breeze had again died and I was forced to hand sail to save wear and tear on the sails.
At 0735 I arose to another hint of a breeze and got sail up. And again we have been all but drifting in a very light and fitful breeze. I have no doubt been a little optimistic expecting the SW monsoon to have stabilised into a steady flow this early in the season, especially as my pilot charts tell me that there is a ten percent chance of calms in the area at this time of year – a case of counting my chickens before they hatched I think.
Nonetheless, we continue to make ground to the north. Patience and persistence will prevail.
All is well.