Over Half Way
As I was this morning, standing on the companionway steps, head and shoulders above the parapet, sorry hatch, having a good look around and studying the ever changing mood of the waves, just as we do countless times around the clock; thinking shall I let a little sail out? It would be nice to maintain a six knot average, when I noticed a charcoal grey bank of cloud with veils of rain beneath it moving slowly towards us, which answered my question, we might soon be getting a lot more wind and maybe even some rain to wash the salt off Zoonie’s surfaces. It has just petered out, sliding off to one side. I came below and put together a pan of chili con non-carne for two main meals.
While we reefed yesterday we became covered in translucent crystals; wherever we moved our hands picked up enough salt to season a pan of porridge. I did clean the windows yesterday, single-handedly, holding on tightly, to get rid of the white streaks she suffers from as the gel coat on her coach-roof slowly dissolves, while Rob tightened the ropes holding the two gas cylinders in place on the aft deck and collected three desiccated flying fish sending them on their last flight home.
We had some fabulous
sailing before the blow arrived. In the early morning the moon’s sun-reflected
light shone on the water towards us and simultaneously shining on the space
station in the sky behind us. So I thought the crew up there must be getting
sunlight from both sides. Later in the day under the penetrating blue sky the
sea was that wonderful oceanic blue that is impossible to capture on the camera,
a treat for our eyes only.
The swell was increasing and the wave tops were starting
to break and boil over forward of the tons of water beneath them. I watched as a
wall of water would build up behind Zoonie’s stern and I discovered that if it
didn’t break the swell would gently lift Zoonie’s stern high up and send her
skidding down the wave, surfing. As she slowed and settled and the wall passed
beneath her it would leave a deep canyon far below and behind her. If the wall
or wave did start to break it was quite a different
The swell was increasing and the wave tops were starting to break and boil over forward of the tons of water beneath them. I watched as a wall of water would build up behind Zoonie’s stern and I discovered that if it didn’t break the swell would gently lift Zoonie’s stern high up and send her skidding down the wave, surfing. As she slowed and settled and the wall passed beneath her it would leave a deep canyon far below and behind her. If the wall or wave did start to break it was quite a different story.
I now have an ambition to catch in a photo the point at which the mighty wave is breaking just beyond her stern, but if I do then I must remember to hold on really tight the second I have taken the shot because that breaking wave will not tolerate Zoonie in its path and will shove her to one side, sending her barrelling off course until the auto pilot very efficiently brings her back on line. Her galloping horse becomes her battering ram.
The wind stayed above 30 knots for 4 days and nights along with its accompanying lively sea of around five metres, the elephant was on the run with Zoons on its back and a bee under its tail. We are riding the 1016 isobar of the Indian Ocean High and there is plenty of wind in there for sailing. The reefed main is on the other side now and held out firmly with the preventer pulling the opposite way to the securing sheet, and it is working. Zoonie is goose-winged and using every bit of wind around her.
Studying my pencil plots of her progress over the paper chart I’m thinking her daily runs (148 miles average) seem so short, then I realise the chart covers half the world! She’s not doing at all badly!
Two days ago we reached the half way point with around 1930 miles to go and celebrated with scrambled eggs for breakfast. I sat looking up through one of the big side windows watching the sails when a wave engulfed her from the top of the mainsail, which was reefed to half way up the mast, and from stem to stern; the sound was thunderous and wet and the sight of blue bubbling water careering along her leeward side-deck: impressive. I once again wished I had a drone that could film her valiant progress.
The other three yachts making the crossing are ahead of us so we will see them when we get in.
Darren from the yard, watching us on Marine Traffic, says this weather system should last another 11 days. Yesterday, Jonty’s birthday, was also another perfect sailing day and Zoonie was as well-mannered and sea-kindly as ever. I love it when she is belting along at 6 – 7 knots as if on tracks, with the gentlest roll to remind us we are still AT SEA.