Mate's Log - July 6, 2001

... the Night Watch

Position: 49-39-16N 46-10-55.2W  Wind: 7-9 knots @ 223 degrees
Barometer 30.20, Temp: 52(F) sailing speed: 5.2 knots

Many of you ask, but what is it like at night on passage? Here are notes from last nights log.
00:00 H up G to bed

I am just up from my 8pm to midnight nap. Slept like a log, now it's George's turn. Though we haven't seen any, we are in iceberg country, so the radar is on. It is a cloudy night, no moon or stars. We have three weather sources: weather maps from the radio, a radio check-in with a volunteer weather-savvy ham that helps sailors plot their ocean courses, and our new NAVTEX which gives us updated navigational warnings and weather. Tonight we expect the wind to build and clock back to the SE, at which point I will probably have to wake George to help me re-configure the sails.

It should be 10 o'clock Kansas City time. I'm thinking of my brother, Bill, as he is getting ready to watch the late news. We have arranged to think about each other at this moment every night. It is a wonderful, warm fuzzy connection, which leads me to thinking about everyone else in the family, and hoping they are all well.

For this trip I started out wearing "the Patch". I have not had any sea sickness, but the adverse affects is the over all feeling of having a bad cold with dry itchy eyes. It lasts for 72 hours. At present, I am feeling the scopolamine wearing off. Less drizzle down the back of my throat, and I am able to read without my eyes being too sore. Tonight I spent some time listening to "Geography of the World" (Book on tape) but now my eyes feel better so I am reading "the Utmost Island" by Henry Myers, an Icelandic history which George enjoyed reading a couple of months ago. It starts with life in the 900's full of powerful Gods. There is a steady spit of rain outside. The sky is still thick with clouds obscuring the stars and moon. The radar beeps.  We have a "guard" on at 3 nautical miles radius, but I don't see anything solid on the screen. Perhaps it is just the rain, though I do not detect a "squall" pattern on the screen.

I will try to describe what it is like to be here right now:
I am standing in the pilot house on the fluffy Tancook rugs, with a small red light shining on my old mildew smelling book. (Red lights help your eyes maintain the best night vision). I George sleeping in Lea Cloth am reading out loud and looking up to check the instruments and our position every couple of pages. In the cabin below, George sleeps soundly in the cradle of a lea cloth (see picture). The heater is on. I hear its tiny roar and feel its warmth raising up the companionway where I stand. Though I was in a very deep sleep when G woke me at midnight and felt very groggy at first, I am wide awake now.

Outside, I hear the calm rushing of the swell rolling and pushing us onward. Every so often I hear the squawking of birds. It is too dark to see what they are, but before darkness we had petrels, terns, and shear waters. Our bird guide shows a wide variety of all three birds. "These gull sized sea birds have longer wings than gulls, bills are topped with large nostril tubes. Rapid wing beats alternating with stiff winged glides present a distinctive flight pattern as these birds skim the waves in search of food. They are Pelagic: rarely seen from shore." (the National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America p.30).

In addition to checking the radar, wind direction, speed, position, barometer, and battery supply, we have a new tool on board, a "NAVTEC". It receives marine warnings and weather updates. I just checked three "new" displays:
1.  Beware of a rowing boat accompanied by a sailing vessel crossing the channel from Scilly Island   to Cancala (N. Britany)
2.  New position of an Ireland West Coast drilling rig.
3.  The location of an Ireland West Coast seismic survey towing a 6km  cable.

So far on this shift I had 2 bowls of potato vegetable soup, a bowl of cottage cheese, a pot mint tea, several swigs of Gatorade, a half a water bottle, half cup instant coffee mixed with a cup of hot soy milk. Several handfuls of trail mix (nuts and dried fruits). I seem to be always hungry and thirsty, but never can figure out exactly what I am really hungry or thirsty for. 

04:04 I notice the GPS speed is 4.2 knots and the knot log is 3.7 knots. This difference indicates that we are having a favorable current help us along. The wind is dying, only 6 knots. We have only 2 power lights left. The horizon is beginning to lighten. Soon I will be able to turn off the navigation lights and radar, which will save on power.

04:37 Wind is down to 3-5 knots. George wakes with the noisy rocking of the boat and flopping of the sails. We discuss strategy. He doesn't need to get up. I will take the pole down from the jib, double reef the main and center both sails until the wind backs. This is the calm before the expected warm front and change of wind direction. It is fun to expect the weather to do something and then really have it happen.

05:45 Just polished off the last bowl of potato soup. Poor George, he'll have to have cereal for breakfast. I don't feel too bad because he likes his cold cereal with a big spoonful of peanut butter. My stomach can't handle that, it likes hot soupy things. I think he will be glad I finished his soup off.

06:45 George is up... Just in time. The wind is beginning to build. The sails need adjusting to make the most of the steady 9 knots of wind now coming from the south at 180 degrees. As he adjusts the wind vane, and lets the sails out more, we suddenly have steady wind at 14 knots, our speed is up to 4.6 knots  I would like to write this log update in the computer right now, except we have only 2 power lights on, which is not enough. So I will wait until the sun gives our solar cells more energy or we drop down to one light and start the engine. Starting the engine isn't as simple as it used to be, it is not equipped with glow plugs for cold weather. So, in this cold climate, we have to pull up the floor boards, pull the air filter off, light a propane torch, use it to heat the air intake manifold. I hold the torch while George turns the key. This is just one of many team jobs we have. I'll share some more about teamwork some other time. Anyway, we are trying to just start the engine every other day for battery charging. When we do turn it on, it will be for a couple of hours and we will recharge batteries we use for our tape player, the camera, flashlights, and George's electric tooth brush.

I hope you enjoyed my watch. Now I think I'll take a nap.  Holly


Last Updated: 8/5/01

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