Thursday, November 3, 2011

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

Maybe stormy is an exaggeration, but it was a bad combination of strong wind, confused seas, and not being able to see anything except the lights on the boat. It might have been fun in the daylight, but it was unnerving having the boat pitched around without being able to see anything around us. As the waves roll under the boat, they can turn it substantially. Not being able to anticipate them means that steering corrections always happen too late; and not being able to see anything in the sky or on the horizon means that the compass is your only measure of how far and how fast the boat is being spun. When you're already sailing as much downwind as possible to stay under control, there is not much room for course deviation. Turn too much toward the wind and the boat gets tippy and speeds up too much; turning past dead downwind will cause an accidental jibe.

Each time we hit 15 knots, we reduced sail: the spinnaker was replaced by the smaller reaching jib, then no headsail at all. After a few nervous hours under main alone, things calmed down and we were back to our normal sail plan.  It was the 1% of the trip when it's not so cool to have the highest sail-area-to-displacement ratio in the fleet.

Now approaching Cabo, with 30 miles to go.

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