After the Deluge

Well, it’s been quite a week here on Bodacious Dream! If you recall, last Sunday, I said we passed the 3000 miles from Cape Town waypoint. Well, this Sunday, we passed the 4000-mile mark, which leaves us with something like 3200 miles before we reach Wellington, New Zealand and the completion of Leg 2 of the Circumnavigation!


As I was going back through the trip logs on the computer, I noticed that Bodacious Dream and I have logged nearly 30,000 miles together since she was launched in late 2011 in Wellington, NZ, and right where we are headed next. Amazing how the time and the miles fly by!

I’ve been onboard for every one of those miles … some in New Zealand, then after she was shipped to Charleston, SC, racing up the Atlantic Seaboard, then into the St. Lawrence Seaway and to Québec City, followed by a trip across the North Atlantic, in and around France, England and the English Channel – then down to Portugal, back across the Atlantic to Antigua in the Caribbean and back up the Atlantic Coast for the Atlantic Cup this past spring before prepping and launching the Circumnavigation which has taken us to Bermuda, Cape Town and now 4000 miles through the wild and desolate Southern Ocean. Such is the life of a vagabond sailor! At this point, both the sails and I are beginning to show some signs of wear and tear – but onward we go, into the wind – and daily grateful for the chance to do so!

In the last update, (the one before Tegan’s Science Notes) I said that we were looking for one of these now famous Southern Ocean cold fronts to pass us mid-week, and that we were setting up for a showdown with a cyclone by Friday. Our strategy at the time, was to sail with the winds of the cold front, as quickly east as possible in order to get us to a position about 95E Longitude which would put us just in front of the cyclone come Friday night.

38.57215S, 100.361912E
A lonely bird in grey seas … 38.57215S, 100.361912E

We sailed well and tapped some of the power of that cold front Tuesday, but fell into light winds on Wednesdays. Stressed at the possibility of NOT getting ahead of the cyclone, which would deliver us headwind punches (right on the nose) instead of the MUCH preferred tailwinds (from behind), I worked extra hard all day Wednesday trimming the sails, until the winds filled back in late Wednesday night.

By Thursday, the path of the cyclone had become clearer … and we could see it wasn’t going to play fair. We had expected it to move south and diminish in strength, and then hitch itself onto another passing cold front to form an even more powerful cold front, passing through our neighborhood at about 85E Longitude. As we tracked its progress though, we could see it had decided to zero in on a little sailboat called Bodacious Dream and to change its course to the southeast with the aim of crossing our path at around 99.5E Longitude. Fortunately, Bo is a quick boat and we were able to beat the cyclone to 99.5E and get ourselves to about 100E before the cyclone caught up to us and gave us the tailwinds we wanted! I know that all may sound a little abstract, like blips on a radar screen – but let me tell you, when you’re dancing all around the deck, doing everything in your power to extract a couple extra knots of speed … it’s all very real … but very fun too.

38.57215S, 100.361912E Grey and white … 38.572169S, 100.361104E

The flip side of the story is that though we got the tailwinds we wanted, we were close enough to the cyclone for those winds to be rather substantial! For the next 18 hours, Bo and I sailed through tempest winds from 35 to 50 knots and seas the size of small countries. Bo handled it with class and dignity, while I cowered down below decks waiting for something to go wrong! LOL!

There was one rather funny moment I’ll share. The winds had gotten into the 40-knot range, which was pushing Bo just too fast for safety into the waves in front of her, and so the only option I had was to go forward onto the bow and take down the small orange sail that was flying. Normally, this is an everyday job on a sailboat and done without much concern, but when the winds are gusting over 40, and the boat is flying along at 12 knots and crashing into and bouncing off of waves, it’s really quite a thrilling (and at the same time, discombobulating) experience. With all my gear on and my integrated harness and inflatable life vest, I clipped on my tether and ventured forward – bouncing and stepping across the deck like an uncoordinated booby bird doing the Charleston. Once to the bow, I tackled the flogging and soaking wet sail and pulled it down like I was wrestling a small animal. Once down, I began to tie it to the deck so it wouldn’t blow away. Just then I heard this rushing sound pushing my ears. I looked up and was eye-to-eye with a huge elephant-sized wave, which smacked me solid, drenching me in a torrent of water. I couldn’t help but let about a laugh – the totally disproportionate size advantage that ocean has over humans is inherently comical whenever ocean decides to exercise it.

Anyway, I went back to tying down the sail with I heard this “pop,” followed quickly by my automatic life vest inflating, leaving me on the foredeck with this huge tire around my neck … making it doubly difficult (and triply comical) for me to finish my task! But finish it I did, and got back below decks, deflated the life-vest, replaced it with another, all the time wishing I’d have had some video of all that! I guess it’s good to know the life vests work, though they’re only supposed to inflate when fully submerged. I guess that wave was even bigger than it looked!

38.57215S, 100.361912ELost horizons … 38.572138S, 100.361666E

Well, the storm was everything it was forecasted to be and lasted a full 24 hours. I’ve had very little sleep since it began, but fortunately, the forecast for the next three to four days is for some far more relaxed sailing, so I hope to use the time to catch up on my rest and get some warm food in me. It’s now about 18 hours since the storm passed, but I guess nobody told the waves that, because they are still burly and strong causing us to shudder and shake with each big roll. Oh well, what to do, but look to the horizon (if you can see it for the waves) and to whatever tomorrow might bring.

And, with about 500 miles to go before we are officially ‘underneath the down under’ (Australia,) I’m getting excited at the thought of hot showers, fresh food, cold beer and seeing old friends in Wellington. I’m figuring maybe 18 days. As you probably know by now, my mind can’t help but take miles, time and speed and turn them into a series of math problems.  So, let’s see … if there are 3200 miles left to Wellington, New Zealand and I am making 7.2 knots average a day, how long will it take me to get there?? Have some fun of your own folks!

Until later,

- Dave, Bodacious Dream and (the math challenged) Franklin

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