I had to time my passage through the Athenian Islands as there is a current that can run at 9kts. Once through the Ungala Pass The winds died down a bit and since they were from behind I thought it would be a good time to put up the asymmetrical sail. Well I misjudged the wind speed and when I started to raise the sail it filled with such power that it pulled me 3 feet into the air. My pocket caught on a mast cleat which prevented me from getting much higher, but it killed the pocket. I got the sail under control and kept it up for the next 24 hours. That was the only light wind I’ve had, since then its been an on and off gale. The winds have blown long enough and hard enough to produce 20 foot seas. 20 foot seas sound worse then they are. In the open ocean, away from opposing currents and multiple wave trains the seas are large but better behaved. Unlike the Bering sea which is like sailing threw a giant washing machine. Once during my first singlehanded transatlantic I had a storm that blew 50 knots for 70 hours and produced 30 foot waves. Now that was a storm!
Before Jeff came out to give me the resupply boxes I asked him if he could grab a newspaper for me. He went to the local library and they gave him a stack of 30 or so papers. They were all two to three weeks old, but its all new news to me. So I’ve spent the last week reading the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal as 15-20 foot waves passed by outside my boat. I read about Hurricane Irene. It sounds like it ripped through parts of the country not used to hurricane damage (Vermont, Connecticut, ect). Unfortunately it will be considered “flood damage” so insurance companies won’t help much. It seems that Maryland was also hit hard, I imagine Martin O’Malley must have his hands full. We think we’ve conquered this planet, but mother nature will alway have the real power.
I ran before the gale force winds using just the head sail for three or four days. The wind finally let up so at 2 or 3 in the morning I went outside to raise the main sail. It was pitch black and there were still large waves roaming around. I was untying a line that was preventing my main from flapping in the wind when a wave hit the boat with enough force to lift me up and throw me over the boom. Next thing I know im hanging onto the lifelines with my backside in the water. I couldn’t help but to laugh, what else could I do? The next morning I woke up and noticed my battery power was surprisingly low. Well, my bilge pump had stopped working and I had accumulated enough water that my batteries were submerged. Luckily AGM batteries are not damaged by being underwater. I have a manual bilge pump in the cockpit but its the strangest pump I’ve ever seen, it works though. I fixed my bilge pump and cleaned my battery terminals, but for a moment it was quite a scare.
The day after that the winds shifted to the Southwest and blew 40+ knots. It was pushing me Northeast and I wasn’t too happy about heading north. I slowed my boat down by deploying my drogue so not to get to far off course. I love my drogue. I could write a Shakespearian sonnet in iambic pentameter about “how I love thy little drogue”. For the record, some people get a parachute sea anchor and a drogue mixed up or they think they are the same thing. My parachute sea anchor is 9 feet across and is deployed off the front of the boat, where my drogue is 3 feet across and deployed of the back of the boat. The para-anchor stops the boat, the drogue just slows you down.
I have spent the last week sailing east southeast to south east around the Pacific high, AKA the great Pacific garbage vortex. I could of tried to sail through the high pressure area and I would of had lighter winds but the idea of sailing threw a bunch of trash is utterly depressing. So I’ve been sailing around it. I’m heading for the California current that will help push me south at around 1kt. My spirits are high but it can be a bit lonely. When I get back to land I need to find a girl who wants to do some blue water sailing. Either that or convince a mermaid to become a princess, or however that works. I have another gale coming, it looks like it will blow hard for three days. At least it will be out of the Northwest (I hope) so I should make good time.
I would like to thank Victor Wejer for all the weather forecasts and good info while going around Alaska. Victor is like a library of knowledge and he can answer any Arctic related question you can imagine. He researches the answer first which is the sign of a true professional, Thanks Victor!
My plan for the Pacific (roughly)
44 05N 135 01w
30 03n 128 09w
27 12s 110 15w
56 52s 068 38w