Welcome To The North Pacific Ocean

Miles Total: 1,290
Miles To Osaka, Japan: 349
Cabin Temp: 81 Water Temp: 74

When we left the tropics behind we also left the Philippine Sea and returned to the North Pacific Ocean. And true to form, it’s given us quite a welcome back for us the last 18 hours or so. As we had planned, we motored hard in flat windless seas to try and get as far north as possible before the low came by. Our last forecast that we requested late Friday night confirmed that our travel north would pay off, and the highest forecast wind speed had decreased to 32 knots for our intended location. In addition, a weather fax we downloaded showed two high pressure systems above the low, giving us confidence it shouldn’t turn north.

The winds were a bit late reaching us, but on my 11:00 watch last night they started to fill in. I reefed the jib twice before I came down at 2:00, each time slowing the boat back down to under 5.5 knots. The winds continued to build during Rob’s late night watch, and by the time I got up at 5:00 he had furled the jib completely. The wind was gusting well over 30 knots, and coming from precisely the direction we wanted to travel. Time to heave to and park the boat. If we had been traveling with the wind we could have continued to sail, likely through the worst of this low.

With a double reefed main only, we trimmed the sail to get the maximum power out of it, then turned the helm into the wind and lashed the wheel down. This gave us a 50-60 degree angle into the wind and waves and nearly stopped our forward momentum. We began to slide westward downwind, which was ok because we knew this would happen so we had been making as much ground east of our course as possible all night long.

In heavier conditions we would have needed to add more mainsail and back wind a small foresail to stop our forward progress (or deploy our parachute anchor off the bow), but the winds were only gusting to 38 and the seas were not breaking on us. By noon the low had passed, the barometer was starting to rise again and the winds were dropping quickly. Right now it’s 2:00 and we’re just waiting for the seas to calm a bit before we roll the jib back out. We’re theoretically only 3 days out of Japan, but it’s an upwind slog now, so who knows how long it’ll take.