Passage To Japan, Day 4

Miles Total: 479
Miles To Osaka, Japan: 1,110
Cabin Temp: 91 Water Temp: 83

The wind has been up and down for the last two days. We motored through the night last night with flat seas and calm winds. Luckily it’s been a squall-free passage so far, although there was rain on two sides of us for most of the morning that we managed to miss. Right now we’ve got about 9 knots of true wind just aft of our beam (giving us 8 knots apparent on the beam), so we’re sailing with full sails up, making about 4.5 knots once again.

We’ve changed our destination and are heading more northerly towards Osaka. An email yesterday advising us of a final lab result at home convinced us that one last change of plans was necessary. We’ll pop into Osaka and make a quick fuel stopover and watch for a weather window across the North Pacific, then head home as soon as possible. Cruising Japan, like many other places in the Pacific, will just have to wait for another day.

When we replotted our course yesterday and looked at the actual route from Japan to Seattle it surprised me. I’ve heard of the Great Circle routes, but hadn’t really thought about what it meant. A course from Osaka to Seattle that goes in what looks like a straight line on a chart is actually 250 miles longer than the route plotted by the software that goes north through the Aleutian Island chain and into the Gulf of Alaska above 55 degrees north! Being one of the most spatially challenged individuals on the planet, I had a very hard time conceptualizing this, so I had to find a ball to act as a globe to understand what it meant, and how the idea that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line wasn’t true in this case.

What will really matter in the end, though, is the weather. If the shorter course has stinkier weather, we’ll stay further south and sail a longer distance to have a more comfortable ride. The memories of those 20′ seas off the Washington coast just four years ago are still pretty vivid, and not an experience I really need to repeat on what will be our last ocean passage for a few years.