School’s In Session

Miles day 5: 130
Miles day 6: 137
Miles day 7: 151
Miles total: 880
Miles to Yap: 358

The thing about cruising for me is that every day I have to (or get to) learn something new. Rarely is there an entire day when something doesn’t surprise me, educate me, or just plain teach me a lesson. When I stated earlier in the week that the rain cells up here don’t pack big winds (and stated it just like I knew what I was talking about), I was taught a lesson soon after that I was completely wrong.

We’ve had a couple of nice days of sailing, with about 18 knots behind us. We’ve had a scrap of the jib out on a pole and been flying dead downwind wing on wing, making 6.5 to 7 knots directly towards Yap. At that rate we would have made a Wednesday afternoon landfall. We’ve got about 1.5 knots of current, so the reefed jib and reefed main were plenty of sail to give us enough speed. But sure enough, this morning just before dawn the squalls started piling up and haven’t stopped yet. The wind is too high for even a scrap of jib, so we’re back to the reefed mains’l alone and rolling like crazy in the wind driven waves, which seem to be coming from all directions at the moment.

Since we can’t get in by Wednesday night we need to slow down. But sailing without a headsail is too rolly and we need something to balance the main. So the plan is to tuck a second reef in the main and put up our storm staysail, which is a very small and heavily constructed sail we fly off the forestay during storm conditions (the forestay being the wire where we hoist our normal staysail and is just aft of our jibstay where the roller furling jib is). We’ve never put the second reef in this mainsail, and we’ve never hoisted the storm staysail away from the dock. Doing both of those things now in these relatively calm conditions are good practice though, since we may need to again when we cross the North Pacific later this summer.

We’ll also heave to Wednesday afternoon and rest a bit to time our entrance into Yap after daylight. Heaving to is a maneuver where we backwind the foresail, luff the main a bit, and essentially park the boat. The main is trying to drive the bow up and the backwinded jib is opposing that and pushing the bow down. I think I’ve talked about this in the blog before. I’ve wanted to practice heaving to a few more times, because I also believe that will be something we might need to do on our last crossing if any summer storms brew up and pass by us after we leave Japan.

So after Rob finishes his nap out we’ll go and hope we don’t get drenched trying to get just the right amount of sail up for the present conditions. By the time we’re done, though, who knows what the wind will be doing then.

Today on Yohelah school is in session…..