Sunshine and Squealing Winds

Following our slow trek south, once we found the trade winds last Saturday, life took quite the dramatic turn. From days of frustration with slow going, we were suddenly thrown into days (and nights) of constant squalls and struggling with the heaving waves, quick wind changes, steady pounding as well as the squealing sounds and lack of sleep that accompany them.
November 1, 2013
A moment of “relative” calm … 44.8432W, 20.3332N

Last night, Thursday, was a night of incessant squalls, during which an analogy for them jumped into my mind. Imagine crossing a 6-lane expressway where there are a lot of bigger trucks mixed in with the cars. So, the trade winds are similar in that there are lanes of clouds (cars) right next to lanes with squalls (trucks.) And since I can’t run fast enough to go between them without getting hit, I just keep getting run over by the squalls – again and again.

Sea DragonNow that I think of it though, if this were a thousand years ago, and there were no expressway analogies, I can totally see how sea dragons would be a logical alternative. In fact, I’m finding it’s kind of hard NOT to personify the weather … especially when there’s no one else on board with whom I can commiserate.
Typically on a regular night, by midnight, the squalls have calmed down, and we only see a couple more before dawn … but last night, they never stopped. From the time the sun set, to well after dawn, they just kept coming … so, with my first mate, “Otto” auto-piloting the boat, I ran around making adjustments to the lines, as we ploughed our way through the chaos of increasing wind speeds, sudden shifts in wind direction and the constant and crazy waves.At present, we are less than 400 miles from our waypoint, which is where we will cross into  the 100-mile band of sea known as the “doldrums” (again, that’s the low-pressure area around the equator where the prevailing winds are almost always calm.) In joking with the weather gurus over at Commander’s Weather, they are assuring me that by Saturday, I’ll be complaining about not enough wind. So, it’s always something, isn’t it?
November 2, 2013Where in the Wide World We are … 37.96625W, 11.67275N

As all this action has pretty much consumed my day and nights, I haven’t seen or done much else. You can bet the local sea life knows where to go when weather’s like this. For us, with no shelter and about as far from an Irish pub as one could be, we must proceed with our regular but now increasingly difficult-to-perform tasks. Especially challenging is boiling water and pouring it into the freeze-dried dinner pouch at night; lately this is being done with great care I can assure you.candy wrappersDuring one of the bigger squalls last night, a big wind shift caused the bucket of seawater that contained my little citizen-scientist project of decomposing aluminum foil from the candy wrapper to tip over. But I can say, at this point, 50% of the foil was still intact with the balance broken into smaller pieces. In time, I suspect it would all disappear. How long? Not sure.

I’ll finish with something from the “too-beautiful-to believe” file. On Wednesday night, the winds dropped into the high teens, which made for more comfortable conditions. As I sat there in my spot in the cockpit, looking aft (backwards) out of the boat, I saw the first of what turned into a flurry of shooting stars. I was blessed with many more that night – several dozens of stars fell across the night sky. If I remember correctly, this is the time of year for the Leonid meteor shower - and I guess I had the perfect seat for it. I remember late in our sailing season back home (in Indiana,) some of the older sailors trying to get me to go out on the lake and watch the Leonid shower. I never went, thinking how cold it would be. Now I can see why they went, and why I was silly not to as well.

OK, that’s about all I can think of right now, except that it sure smells like an old sailor lives onboard this boat!

– Dave and Bodacious Dream
37.96625W, 11.67275N