Nature’s Music

It’s been a week of good sailing and good distances made. Doing the math, I see that we’ve tracked another 1000 miles this week, leaving Cape Town 5000 miles behind us now!

43.50603S, 137.53928EMoving along … 43.50603S, 137.53928E 

Presently we’re under the Great Australian Bight (Bay) about 940 miles from the southern tip of Tasmania and beyond that, at another 1300 miles, New Zealand. So, the good news is we’re getting there, though not as fast as I’d like. If I might whine a moment, the freeze-dried meals are wearing on me some and every time I look at the chocolate supply it looks evermore depleted! In any case, best guesses for our arrival in New Zealand are now for about the 10th of February.

The weather is starting to stir up again after giving me a week of pretty settled conditions. So it is that the good times pass too quickly and trouble never quickly enough. I’m looking at two cold fronts crossing our route very shortly; the first on Sunday evening and another on Monday evening. These look similar to the ones I dealt with in the western Indian Ocean. Typically, these fronts signal their imminent arrival the day before with a NW wind that eventually builds to 30 knots or so with some showers and rain squalls imbedded in them. As they pass, the winds switch over to the SW, which then clear out and die off. As far as our ability to use the weather to make up distance goes, it is a fairly predictable pattern of moving along quickly and then slowing down. Because I know it’s coming, the slow down can be a bit frustrating just because I’m keen on keeping steady progress towards New Zealand. As one quickly learns, patience is no less difficult a virtue to practice out here, than it is anywhere else!

The good thing about days of calmer weather is that it makes it easier to accomplish ordinary tasks like sleeping, eating, reading and writing. I’ve been able to finish a number of books. Those would be … Long Walk to Freedom (about Nelson Mandela), Losing my Virginity (about Richard Branson,) Incognito (David Eagleman on the brain,) Dreamland (David K. Randall on the science of sleep) and What the Dog Saw (Malcolm Gladwell essays.)  I’ve started a couple more that hopefully will get me through these last couple of weeks.

An interesting dilemma I have (which a lot of people are going through these days,) is whether I like the physical feel of a book in my hands or reading on a tablet like my iPad. I think I’m old-skool enough to prefer having the book in my hand, but then a wave splashes over and I think … you know, this waterproof iPad isn’t such a bad idea after all, is it? And it comes with music at the same time! But out here, that’s not such a selling point, as there’s so much of nature’s music all around me all the time.

dave_b2ct_300Speaking of nature’s music, the sounds that reach my ears are a complex symphony. Allow me to give you a little tour of the sounds around me now. As I sit below decks typing this, the constant push of water against the hull where the bow enters the water sets up a strong rhythm – a surge UP and then a flow back DOWN as the boat powers over a wave. Behind me, in the transom (the back of the boat) there’s a steady cadenza of splashing noises as the water pushes up against the transom. At first listen, you’d swear the stern hatch was open and the water was flowing into the boat, but no, just the sound of it. All along, at any time, you can hear a thud or loud SLAP as a wave comes up against the side of the hull. This throws you at first as you think you’ve hit something, but once you get used to it, you start to miss it, if this sidewinder sound doesn’t come along somewhat regularly.

Back up on deck, and outside of the resonator of the cabin, these sounds aren’t as pronounced, but up top, there’s the squeak of the gooseneck of the boom, at the point where it attaches to the mast. I’ve doused it a number of times with WD40 in the hopes of quieting its complaining cat sounds. There’s a different type of squeak coming from the point where the main sheet connects with the other end of the boom. And of course, there’s the broad billowy sounds of wind in the sails.

sail_b2ct_550- Imagine the sound of it … 3.4420118N, 33.224636W (from Leg 1)

Then are the 2 Ottos … our autopilots, that have their peculiar whine as they move back and forth steering the boat. The hydro-generator that I mentioned in the previous post has the most interesting sound; like a wind-up airplane … and as the boat speeds up, the pitch gets higher, until it comes off a surf, which causes the pitch to get lower. As I said, it’s a reassuring acoustic reminder that everything is working and that the boat is moving right along.

Sounds of the Sea

(On the last leg, at one point, I realized I’d lost the sound of the hydro-generator. I went up top and found the unit had become unattached from its mount and was dangling off the back of the boat! Yikes … almost lost it there!)

Oh, and add to the sounds, the incessant flapping of the jack lines. These are the straps of nylon that I tether myself to, and while I am grateful for the added protection they provide, the sound they make can drive you a bit batty in higher winds especially when combined with the snapping of the halyards along side the mast.

All in all, it’s a crazy concert of sounds … very much like the tuning-up session before a classical orchestra starts to play. But then again, once Bodacious Dream is up and high in the water and everything is going well, then the sound grows sweeter and more like when the symphony starts to play!

winch_1.26_550Yesterday’s Light - 38.57215S, 100.361912E

Well, as I said, I’ve got a few cold fronts coming up, so I’ve got to get set for them. At this point, it’s kind of like family coming to visit; you want everything to be ready before they ring the bell.

More later, when the weather has passed.

- Dave, Bodacious Dream and Franklin (who occasionally adds his own bouncing percussion to the concert.) 

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