Today I slept in until 1pm. I don’t think I’ve quite caught up on my jet lag from being in the US for 2 weeks. Maybe now I have. We’ll see tonight. I’m on shift from 8-midnight. The wind and waves have increased from last night. I always know it’s worse when the auto-pilot, Otto, can’t keep up. He continuously attempts to over-correct the steering to respond to the more rambunctious wind and waves. We have been seeing 16-20 knot winds and everything is coming from behind. That’s typically the only time Otto struggles with the correction, when the wind is from behind.
I decided to give Otto a break and hand steer for a few hours. I love doing that, especially when I know I can turn it back over to Otto when I get tired. There’s nothing like the feeling of steering the boat manually, responding to the swells behind you and making sure the wind is staying on the right side of the boat. It makes me feel like everything you’ve ever thought about or seen in movies about sailing. I found myself whistling, “Yo ho ho, it’s a pirate’s life for me!” LOL Ironically, even though overall, Otto does a better job at steering than I do, when we are steering in this kind of weather, my steering keeps the boat from going back and forth so much as I respond with smaller movements than Otto does. The goal is to keep it heading in the right direction with as little back and forth as possible. I keep my eyes on the wind gauge, to make sure the wind stays on the right side of the boat, and the directional gauge, making sure I keep my heading as close as I can, although not worrying too much if it gets a little of course. If I am heading at 350 degrees, or 10 degrees off of north, I end up allowing the boat go from around 320-330 up to 15 or 20 degrees (at 360 the counter goes to 000). That sounds like a lot of leeway, but the boat moves around a lot with the wind and swells coming behind on the aft port quarter. If the swells and the wind were directly behind us, it may not be as challenging to respond, but then we wouldn’t be heading in the right direction. Also, with the wind directly behind us, the genoa sail would be constantly trying to flop to the other side. Keeping the wind on the aft quarter allows you to keep the sail filled and your speed constant.
It’s now almost midnight and I am finishing up my shift. The wind has died in the past 4 hours and we are down to 10-12 knots of wind and the boat is doing between 4 and 5 knots of speed. It’s another chilly and wet night, although not as wet as last night and I know not as chilly as my friends in Mid-West, US. I heard that Chicago shut down! Now that has to be cold!
Oh and I almost forgot to mention that we saw a whale in the distance yesterday! The photo above is from that.
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