Here you will find tales of voyages past and present on our trusty Pacific Seacraft Dana 24, "Sockdolager," and our Bigfoot29 powerboat, "Raven," from Port Townsend, Washington, USA. In 2009 we sailed north from Puget Sound up the west coast of Vancouver Island to the Queen Charlotte Islands (now called Haida Gwaii.) In 2010 we went back to the west coast of Vancouver Island. In July 2011 we left the Northwest, sailed to Mexico, and in March 2012 we crossed the Pacific to French Polynesia, then on to the Cooks, Niue and Tonga. We spent several months in New Zealand, and in May 2013 loaded Sockdolager (and ourselves) on a container ship for San Francisco. In June and July 2013 we sailed north along the California, Oregon and Washington coasts, and in August we arrived home. In October 2016, Sockdolager found new owners, and we began cruising on Raven, a unique wooden 29' powerboat. In 2018 we cruised up to Glacier Bay, Alaska, and back. But in 2024 we had the chance to buy Sockdolager back (we missed her), so we sold Raven. We hope you enjoy reading about our adventures as much as we enjoy having them. (And there will be more.)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Light Wind, Gentle Sailing

Pacific Crossing, Day 23: We're moving again--barely, but moving. Late yesterday we spotted some promising clouds to the south and motored toward them. Sure enough, a faint breeze sprang up and we set the drifter and mainsail. For awhile we were in a 5-7 knot breeze, but it's dropped to a level where we have to hand-steer because the vane won't. But we are making progress toward the Equator, and there is less that 900 miles remaining. It's nice weather, temps in the mid 80s, clear skies, low seas. But 900 miles translates to at least another 10 days, probably more with these light winds. The SE Trades in these parts have been light this year according to weather maps.

Before we got becalmed, our average speed was between 4.2-4.5 knots, pretty respectable for a small boat.

Becalmed is a funny word with a Shakespearean sound. To a sailor it often means conflict, a contest of external forces and internal will, as if the absence of wind is a force that must be resisted along with the chafe of slatting sails. After awhile one tends to involuntarily attach adverbs like "hopelessly" to it, which is puzzling until your active imagination remembers scenes of skeleton ships in movies seen as a kid. There's a queer-ish suite of emotions associated with being becalmed, most notably annoyance and fear. What if the wind doesn't blow for another two weeks and we're stuck here? We don't have enough fuel to motor very far; what if our water supply runs low? Becalmed simultaneously introduces uncertainty and the one certainty that we're going to sit right here for awhile.

A sailboat is meant to move. Sailors work the ship. In a calm, there's not much to do and little result if you try. The great sailor Eric Hiscock hated calms more than anything else, even storms. We didn't hate being becalmed this time, but I admit to feeling that suite of emotion and itching to do something active rather than just sit and wait. Jim, on the other hand, seemed content, even curious to find out how such a thing might affect him. We learn from each other, and thank goodness the learning never stops.

Sent via Ham radio

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