Oh The Frustration Of It All

Miles Total: 742
Miles To Osaka, Japan: 855
Cabin Temp: 89 Water Temp: 81

A big low pressure system off northern Japan has been messing with our winds for the last few days. It’s sucking in wind from our direction, causing what we call at home a “pineapple express”, which is drawing the hot humid air from the tropics our way. Just when we thought we’d get some relief from the heat and humidity, not so much. The winds have been painfully light, and nonexistent at night (so why do the winds in the ocean die at night when there’s no heating/cooling cycles of land masses to cause it?). They are forecast to clock all the way around from NE to SE to SW and back up through to NE again as the system moves east from Japan towards home.

When they filled in this morning they were out of the south, just dead behind us. The swell is too big to sail dead downwind, as even with the pole on the jib the rolling in light air causes all the sails to collapse and slam every few seconds. We set the sails for a northwesterly course, waiting for the wind to clock southwest so we could turn north towards Osaka. About an hour ago the winds had nearly died and we were rolling and flailing around. I looked behind us and a massive storm cell was headed our way. We doused the jib and motored southeast to let it pass by us. In the meantime, we used the opportunity to drop the mainsail and replace a pin that had come out of one of the cars that holds a batten near the top of the sail.

When the storm cell passed by and we turned back onto our course the wind was 4 knots out of the west! What the hell? Our nice strong southwesterly (which, BTW, was forecast up to 20 knots through tomorrow) just kind of got skipped in the process. So here we are motoring along, pretty sure we don’t have enough fuel to get there from here. Even with the free week’s moorage offered to foreign visiting yachts, the thought of spending $700 on fuel in Japan is so painful.

Now it’s 3 hours later and the winds have turned back to the south. Apparently they were still being affected by the big blob of a storm cell. And they’re still only 4-6 knots and we’re motoring again. The forecast says we should have 15 knot southwesterlies, not 6 knot southerlies. Arrgghh.

To compound the light winds, we’ve also got a foul current. Last night when the wind died and we turned on the motor I noticed we were making 7.5 knots! We know there is a 1-3 knot current that runs to the north in the summer past Japan. We were surprised that we had picked it up this far south last night but were excited to be in it so early. Not so. This morning when we were sailing northwest we were only making 3.3 knots against the current that had by then turned against us, giving us probably 2.5 knots of VMG (velocity made good). I say probably 2.5 because I didn’t even want to look at the GPS and confirm what it really was.