Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Were We Thinking?

When we were at Easter Island, desperate to get moving to the next 1100 miles further west, the weather for going west didn't look very good. Most of the wind on a direct line between Easter and Pitcairn was on our nose and/or very light.

Our friend Bill on Visions of Johanna, said, "No problemo, lets just head south, cut across a dissipating cold front, and ride the winds between the High and the Low." He has a fancy program (Expedition) that will take the GRIB file forecast and plot out a route. He has also paid a weather forecaster to give him advice on routing for this trip. (Ken at

We were a little desperate while sitting there at Easter Island, with bad weather where we were and worse weather coming, and nowhere else to go. But seriously, next time I contemplate chasing wind in a Low, please kick me!!

We spent all day yesterday motorsailing SSW in very light air. The latest GRIB file showed the Low receding, and we were worrying about ever finding wind. Then, all of us a sudden (about right where it was supposed to be), we had the wind we were looking for. Beautiful ESE winds at about 10-12 knots. We turned off the engine and piled on all the sail we could muster, and were making 6 knots in the right direction under sail alone.

At our evening radio schedule at 1915 (7:15pm local), Bill, who was then about 50 miles ahead of us and further south, reported that they'd been in 20-30kt winds for hours, and to "watch out, don't come so far south". I changed course from SSW to West immediately, while Dave was still talking on the radio.

Thankfully, forewarned is forearmed, and when just 15 minute later we were hit by the first puff of 20-25kt wind, we knew what it was and rolled in the big genoa. 5 minutes later we were fully engulfed in Bill's 20-30 kt winds. As it got dark, Dave took in a 3rd reef in the mainsail. It was exciting, but with the right sailplan, not dangerous.

We sailed all night in 20-30 kts winds, with just the triple-reefed main and the staysail, making 7-8 knots! The waves were huge, and we were surfing down the face of the waves most of the night. The air temp dropped to a chilly 70 degrees and we had rain off and on during the night.

We started this trip pretty sleep-deprived--the last couple of nights at Easter were pretty sleepless. And the last 2 nights at sea were pretty challenging. We didn't take any day naps during the day yesterday, worrying about whether we'd ever find any wind or not.

Now we need to delicately feel our away along the isobars, trying to stay in wind, but not too much wind. Very far north, and the wind dies completely and/or becomes a headwind. Very far south of here and conditions get much worse.

But we are OK. We are in a sturdy boat, built to take this stuff. "Janet" (our CPT autopilot) is working her little heart out to keep us going in the right direction. No major failures to date.

BTW, we celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary last night, with cold spaghetti in our laps. (Some anniversary cruise Dave took me on!!) We ARE both thankful to be here, and to be here with each other.
At 3/25/2010 2:32 PM (utc) our position was 29°05.46'S 112°28.40'W

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