Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Life at Sea in 20 Knots

20 knots, for the non-sailor, is about 25 mph. That's a lot of wind. We've been 'messing about' in 20 knots of wind for the last 2 days. But wind isn't the big deal. Wind is actually a good thing. Wind makes the boat go.

What IS the big deal are the seas. Over time, as the wind blows, the seas get bigger and bigger. Right now we have large waves--about 10 to 12 feet in height. Those are pretty big waves... almost twice as big as the average Satellite Beach wave (they are usually in the 5-6 foot range). Waves this big are really awesome.

We are 'running downwind' right now... that means going with the wind. The significance in sailing is that we are not heeled over. That's nice. But we are surfing down these big 10 foot waves, and rolling from side to side.

You cannot sit anywhere aboard, without bracing yourself to keep in place. To walk from our cabin to the main cabin, and then to the forward bathroom, you have to move from handhold to handhold (all conveniently spaced about 3 feet apart, just for this purpose). You have to time your walk with the roll of the boat.

You cannot put ANYTHING down and expect it to still be there in 5 minutes. Anything with any weight will get hurled across the cabin on the next roll. So we have to keep everything put away in cabinets or drawers (all specially designed to be self-locking, so they won't fly open in conditions like these). For a temporary spot to put things, we have a nice deep sink. But stuff slides back and forth in the sink too.

Cooking is truly a challenge. Just simple things like cutting up vegetables is an adventure. Put the knife down for a second, and it goes flying. Chop a piece of carrot off, and IT goes flying. There aren't enough hands to hold on for yourself, hold the knife, and hold on to the pieces of what you're cutting up. The stove is designed for this... it is built on a pivot to stay level when you are heeling (leaning over when sailing). Pull a couple of pins and, voila, it's level. It also has some brackets that you can attach to hold the pans in place, so THEY don't go flying.

In conditions like this, we eat in the cockpit, one-pot meals served in a bowl in our lap. It takes a lot of of inventiveness in the galley (kitchen) to come up with more than one 'delicious' one pot meal in a row. They tend to all start tasting alike after a couple in a row.

We normally drink water from a water bottle--it tends to hold its contents better than a cup when vaulted across the cockpit, and means we have one hand left to actually eat with.

Sleeping is also an adventure. The boat is pretty noisy when we're sailing in 20 knots of wind. Everything is creaking (not just the rigging, but the woodwork inside the boat). As we are going through the water, there's a lot of water pounding on the hull. And there's the sound of the wind and waves going by. The bed is moving in a pretty lively fashion, and it takes some creativity to get yourself wedged in where you can relax in that kind of movement, and sleep. We are usually braced on the downhill side with a foot or two, and spread out on the bed to stabilize things.

Yep, we are having fun out here!
At 3/30/2010 2:13 AM (utc) our position was 27°12.00'S 121°54.77'W

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