First blow

Sunday, Sept 13 @ 21:35 39.39 N, 130.77 W 5.4 knots

There’s  nothing quite like your first blow to find all the chinks in your armour. It’s blowing pretty hard out there and has been for most of today. I have three reefs in the main and the working jib rolled in a little way past the last black reefing stripes. We are doing just over five knots and it is comfortable in a gale-at-sea kinda way.

I spent a couple of hours in the cockpit watching the storm unfold after an hour or so catching up to the wind conditions. In the euphoria of being back at sea I had forgotten to take the anchor off the bow when leaving the Straits and although I secured it well, not well enough for the conditions we are experiencing today.

So with my new offshore gear on, I faced my old nemesis “the guy with the fire hose”. After crawling up the deck I got all snuggled in to the bow with harness attached and a line to re-secure the anchor in my free hand. West Wind is plowing the Pacific at 5 1/2 knots with the anchor – a fine 40 lb 
plow itself. As soon as I leaned through the pulpit to lasso the anchor, the guy with the fire hose starts soaking me down. The bow is rising and falling about six feet with each wave burying the anchor every four seconds along with me. The big consolation here is that the water is, well not warm but it sure ain’t Cadboro Bay either. This is when all that practice doing the one handed knots really pays off. After what seems like an eternity on the waterboard I feel water start to trickle in my boots and it’s on its way to my neck as well. This voyage was made out to be a big deal so I laid down some serious coin for “offshore rain gear” and I’m here to tell you after all my voyages I have never found rain gear that is any match for the guy with the fire hose, it’s impossible. The rodeo with the anchor is now complete and I disentangled myself from my safety gear kind of like Houdini and made my way back to the comfort and relative safety of the cockpit. Mission complete!

I think we will be in this little commotion for about 12 to 18 hours, at least that’s how long they usually last. We are hunkered down for the duration and I have a can of split pea and ham soup on the stove. This gale has been good for me. It reminds me of all things I need to do to be prepared and what to do as it builds. 
There has been some rain as well and along with the waves it will clean all that smoke and soot residue off the decks.
I have a good course and once this has passed, I hope to be in a good position to head for a way point in the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone).

The ITCZ is visible as a band of clouds encircling Earth near the Equator.

Note: The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), known by sailors as the doldrums or the calms because of its monotonous, windless weather, is the area where the northeast and southeast trade winds converge. It encircles Earth near the thermal equator though its specific position varies seasonally. Source: Wikipedia

Heading in to a low pressure area

Recording barograph measures atmospheric pressure

Day 8 Sunday, Sept 13 @ 08:13 40.01 N, 129.96 W

Glenn is still experiencing communications difficulties on WestWind II so daily updates are minimal for the time being.

“Nice to have weather report. Big low moving in below me so decided to chill last night and move on slowly. South wind on the nose”.

Glenn’s current position (small green circle) in upper centre on earthnullschool
animated weather website

Update 09:03
You would love it if you could be transported here at the moment. The clouds, the sky and the mercury ocean are unbelievable! Wish I could send a photo. I could try and sketch it but fear I would not do it justice but maybe I will try anyway. It’s the colours, the shapes and that line – so finite so dramatic.


Day 7 Saturday, Sept 12 @ 09:28 40.20 N, 130.31 W

Glenn is experiencing challenges with his communications systems which means that his updates via email have been sparse. We are working on helping him sort out the issues and hopefully he will be able to provide regular updates soon.

He has a handheld GPS device on board which, when working, gives his latest position. Click here to see Glenn’s position on a map or visit the WHERE IS GLENN NOW? section of the home page.

The square miles of smoke in the image above totals 963,269. That estimate has been computed using the measurement tool within the NASA Worldview application. Credits: NASA Worldview

Visit the Earth Nullschool website to see an animated weather map.

Calm and smokey

On WestWind II circa 2019

Day 6 Friday, Sept 11 @ 06:17 42.03 N, 130.21 W

Becalmed after a very good sail for about three days with hardly any deck work and lots of naps, reading and eating.

I did motor sail for about 2 hours hoping the wind would fill in but no luck.
The smoke this morning is really bad and there is some residual black soot on the deck. There are still birds chirping away around us this morning, poor souls must be very disorientated.

This somewhat still water will be a good time for me to finish my “head” project.

Note: Glenn is having some communication issues on board which we are working to resolve.

Tricky manoeuvers at sea

Day 4 Thursday, Sept 9 @ 03:26 44.19 N, 128.66 W
Just got back down below after altering course and changing sails from a run to a reach.  The moon is blood red and there are very few stars showing because the smoke in the air is so thick. There was no sun set this evening for the same reason. A black and not so stormy night. I have had several unusual encounters with wild life as well. I found several dragon flies on deck, birds flying around the boat chirping, and there was a sparrow that landed this afternoon. We are well over a hundred miles offshore… a bit far for a sparrow! 

Coming off a run (wind from behind) onto a reach (wind from the side) in the middle of the night on your own requires some planning, particularly if the wind is falling coupled with a boisterous sea.  Life jacket with safety harness and head light on full are the basic equipment before coming up on deck.

I laid in my bunk for about half an hour planning my moves, and wondering how long I could put it off. When running before the wind in a seaway, it’s important to secure the boom so the main sail does not flap and chafe. I hook up a preventer line which is already on the outward end of the boom and while not being used, is attached temporarily near the gooseneck which attaches the boom to the mast. There is one each side of the boom so which ever tack I’m on, the preventer is handy. I attach another line to the inboard end of the preventer and then run that down to the toe rail about eight feet back from the bow and cinch it up tight once the boom and main are in the right position for the run. This line must be removed so the boom can be brought in with the mainsheet in the cockpit. The boom vang, a tackle that runs from the bottom of the boom down to the toe rail in order that the boom does not rise is also let go before the main sheet is brought in. This requires some quick manoeuvering which can be difficult while moving your harness down the deck as you move back and forward. Once the main is set for the new course, the vang is put on again.

Now there is the jib which is poled out the opposite side to the main sail which has its own preventers to hold the pole in place which keeps the jib where you want it for running before the wind. Getting the pole down requires some very quick manoeuvering so the pole doesn’t swing dangerously when the jib sheet is let go. The line controls for the topping lift, which controls the pole, are on the mast and you have to make your way from the cockpit to the mast very smartly to maintain a controlled take down of the pole. There is also a downhaul for the pole which has to be released. Once the pole is secured on deck you make your way back to the cockpit and roll in the jib and then bring the boat around to your new course and set the wind vane and secure its lines to the the tiller and then set the jib to the new course. Once I’m satisfied the vane is steering the new course I tidy up all the lines around the mast and when I’m back in the cock pit, take one last look at the course and head back to my bunk. This some times goes very well and sometimes not so well depending on my state of mind and the weather. Tonight went rather well, I must have gotten lucky.