Whales and Sails, My Friends, Whales and Sails!

We’ve had a nice couple of days since I last posted. If you’re new here, I’m currently on a sailboat, crossing the Atlantic and our only internet connection is a satellite phone which we have elected to sync every other day. So the last time I connected was 2 days ago.

I’ve had a couple of issues come up, personally. My back has been hurting. I suspect sleeping on a 3 inch mattress for the past 10 months could be part of the problem, but also being on a boat sometimes leads to a sedentary lifestyle since it’s a challenge to do lots of excercise. So I have set a goal to start doing more stretches and planking to try and resolve the problem. So far no change, but I know it will take some time. Also, my iPhone decided yesterday that I needed to verify all of my apps on my phone other than the default apps that comes with it. Basically, any app I have downloaded will now not load, giving me the error, “Unable to Verify App. A connection to the App Store is required for the first launch of “Kindle (or whichever app I’m loading)” on this iPhone. Please connect to the internet and try again.” Great! I’m in the middle of the bloody ocean! No internet until at least Monday of next week. So I will be doing without any of my downloaded books or games until next week. I know, first world problems. I guess I’ll have to go back to reading paper books. 🙂

We started using the asymmetrical sppinnaker again because the wind had lightened and this sail is amazing in light winds, allowing us to get way more speed out of the boat than the large genoa. Our sailing speeds have been great, up to 7 and 8 knots at times. As we were cruising along yesterday afternoon, a strong gust picked up, causing the boat to veer sharply to port, or the left side of the boat. Just as it did, I looked over to port and saw 2 whales sitting there, 20 feet from the boat, with dorsal fins popping out of the water and then one of them poked its entire head out of the water, almost as if it was looking at us. It was incredible to see these beautiful beasts sitting there, wondering what kind of whale we were. 🙂 So glad we didn’t hit them.

We decided to leave the asymmetrical up over night since the forcasts we downloaded showed little changes in the wind for the next couple of days. If anything the winds will be dropping, which is perfect for this sail. However, at 10:30 pm, because of Murphy’s Law and with 90 minutes to go before my shift begins, I was awakened in the vberth by the boat veering sharply to port which is a sign that the wind has picked up and there’s too much sail out, or in this case, the wind is too strong for the asymmetrical. My hatch was open a few inches to get some air in my cabin. I reached up and closed it as I didn’t want any water coming in. Then I realized we may have a problem, Scottie, since the boat was still careening too much. Brian knocked on my door and told me he wanted to take the asymmetrical down. I knew this was coming, I should have just gotten up when I suspected it.

The asymmetrical is hoisted and taken down with one person at the front of the boat and another person at the back of the boat using a halyard. I’m typically the one that goes to the front of the boat because I like being up there. It is often exciting and I enjoy a good challenge. The first thing you have to do is disconnect the front of the sail or tack which is done by releasing a shackle. To aid in this process, since the wind is typically blowing pretty hard against this sail, making it next to impossible to release the shackle, a separate rope is tied onto the tack, which I pull towards me and then reach up and release the pin on the shackle. But because of the current state of the wind and sail, and it being pitch black outside, it wasn’t next to impossible, it was pretty much impossible to release the pin. Every time I was able to pull the sail towards me because of a lull in the wind against it, I could never find the little ring to pull that unclips the shackle. The sail also goes into a big sock for stowing, but the reason we typically release the tack first is because with the sail full, it’s really hard to pull the sock down over the sail. But after 5 minutes of trying to release the pin, we decided to try pulling down the sock. It was a tough. I thought it was going to pull out of my hands at one point becauase of the wind, but we eventually got the sock down and were able to then disconnect the lines from both the tack and clew corners of the sail and stuff the sail into the sail bag. Quite an ordeal, but we got it done. This is why we typically put this sail away before sunset as it’s challenging to get down at night when the wind is blowing hard.

As I’m walking back towards the cockpit, I notice just how dark it is out there. There are some stars out, but the moon hasn’t risen yet, and it looks completely black, as if 10 feet past the lights of the boat there is just a void. The thought occurred to me, that if I were to fall into the water right now, even with Brian and Carol seeing me go in, the chances of them finding me in this darkness would probably be slim and none, and slim just left town. By the time they got the boat turned around and headed back towards me, with the wind and the swells and the darkness, it would probably be too late to find me. And yes, I am wearing my life jacket and tether, although I had to disconnect the tether for the last 10 feet of returning to the cockpit, which is what made me think of falling in.

By the time we were done, it was 11 pm, with less than an hour left to cool off (yes, I’m sweating at this point) and go to sleep before my shift alarm goes off at 11:50. I finally gave up at 11:30 and went up into the cockpit and relieved Carol as there was no way I was going to sleep and it’s much cooler in the cockpit anyway.

Yesterday, before all this insanity began, I was sitting up on the deck admiring the beauty around me and wondering how to best describe it for all of you and I wrote the following.

Different shades of blue and green
As far as the eye can see
Textured, contoured, pock-marked and rippled water surrounds us Puffy white marshmallow clouds encircle the entire horizon, all the way around As if we are in a giant bowl of cloud-lined, salt-watery soup Blue soup, that has been shaken, not stirred
But a darker shade of blue than that of the bright blue sky above the clouds

We sway back and forth under the countless waves and swells assisting the breeze, which is consistently 5-15 knots and behind us for the past 10 days, pushing us ever westward toward the southern continent of the Americas, Brazil and Cabadelo await!

Thanks again for following along. Be sure to subscribe below by email to get new updates, especially when I’m at sea and can’t post to my personal Facebook page. Or you can follow my posts on Facebook by liking my blog page, Living Large by Living Little. You can also find me and follow me on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media by searching for the same name and following me there.

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