I know, what happened to Day 6, right? I guess it sort of slipped through my fingers as it seemed to just morph into Day 7. So, for anyone counting, let’s call this the Day 6 AND 7 entry.
Even though we left Turtle Bay with less than 5 knots of wind, some of the diehard sailors convinced Richard to declare it a sailing start rather than a rolling start. Even with big sails you need wind to make them work, don’t you? Well, we managed to poke along, staying smack in the middle of the spinnaker fleet until 1015 when we found ourselves almost going backward and decided to give it up and motor.
By 1330 though, the wind had come up to around 10 knots, which is really nice sailing for our rig, so we were able to return to sail power alone. The rest of the day saw us making 6 knots in 10 to 14 knots of wind from directly behind.
The code Zero is doing an awesome job of driving the boat. Even dead downwind we are routinely seeing boat speeds equal to 60% of the wind speed or better, and it performs even better with some wind angle to work with. It is also simple to set and recover, much more so than any spinnaker- I like it. I will have to remember to give some positive feedback to David Benjamin and Jamie Gifford at Island Planet Sails. Jamie convinced me that these were the sail types that I should have and David did the design work and had them made for us. Thanks guys.
Because the Haha fleet all leave the Turtle Bay anchorage at virtually the time and there are not very many routing options between the beginning and end of this leg, boats tend to stay bunched together for quite a long time. The shortage of any useful wind didn’t help that either. This combination of factors led to a little excitement when the wind went through some unusual and unexpected changes in speed and direction around 2100. Yes, it was full darkness by 2100 and the moon would not come up for several more hours. Yep, that’s right, dark AND scary.
Some boats later reported a small squall and some even had light rain associated with it but we didn’t see any of that. What we did see was the steady 10 – 14 knot wind from astern suddenly veer around to come from the front of the boat and from the opposite side. Under sail alone, even with the headsail poled out, one might have several choices for dealing with this including simply changing course to keep the wind coming from behind while the crew mobilizes to make changes to the sail configuration. But noooo, not this time. Not for the Milagros.
On either side of us, and no more than a couple of hundred yards away, were sailboats and directly behind us and even closer was another. All of them were wrestling with the same wind issues and, by their presence, effectively blocking us from any course changes of more than 10 or 20 degrees.
Our sails were quickly backwinded which brought us almost to a stop. The swells and waves, which had been rolly as we took them obliquely, were now abeam and, since we weren’t really moving forward we were now being rolled pretty significantly. Plus, the poor folks behind us had been flying their spinnaker and now had deck lights on and crew up there trying to wrestle that unruly rascal. They were blinded and focused and likely could not even see our stern light any more. Of course, the boats on either side were also trying to cope, each in their own way – which turned out to include a lot of gross heading changes on their part.
Our solution was to get the engine started and get away from the other boats as quickly as we could while dousing the headsail in the process.
Once again the Code 0 got to impress us as, even in those conditions, it furled up quickly and without fuss.
Our only casualty was a cupboard that emptied its contents onto the galley sole when its door popped open during the brief, but exciting, time we were rolling around beam to the seas. Nothing broken, just a bunch of jars and cans rolling around on the floor getting in the way and making a lot of racket.
We motored for a few hours before we were convinced that there were not going to be any more surprises. Then, at 0020 on the 4th (today)we returned the Code 0 to its poled out position and commenced to sailing downwind again.
As I proofread this it sounds much more dramatic than it was. Sure, we scrambled for a few minutes but it was otherwise just a sail change drill. But, it happened on a very slow news day so this is all I’ve got. I mean, the only other punctuation to the day was catching a fish – one, single, solitary fish.
The wind slowly dropped this morning until it petered out altogether shortly after 1000 and we returned to motoring once again. This wind shortage had been forecast so we weren’t especially surprised and that same forecast suggests that we’ll be motoring the rest of the way to Bahia Santa Maria.
Now, fast forward to 1530 on the 4th (Day 7 now, really) and, well, nothing more has happened. We haven’t even caught another fish. Current calculations have us reaching the anchorage sometime around 0800 on the Monday, Nov 5.