New sails, big yellow flotsam, a biscuit famine, and some albatross for luck.
Roughly 150nm left to run, until the elusive fairway buoy at the entrance to the San Diego bay channel that has enticed our minds for so long appears on the horizon. It’s been nearly 7 months since I’ve seen the red and white striped colours of that one. We are not complacent or relaxed, however. 150nm is still 150 opportunities for things to break, fail, go wrong, and generally be sailing, so we continue to stay on our toes, keep that normal routine and diligence going, and do our level best to make them as an efficient, progressive and uneventful final miles as possible. It would be nice to complete our long delivery with a clean finish.
Tonight is meant to see some of the rougher stuff again, so I’m sure there will be some excitement there, but we’ve made the most of 24 hours of good wind, and made sure we’re well rested and the boat is nicely tidied up. Wanting to make the most of whatever winds are thrown at us in this last run, we have temporarily turned Disco into a sail loft. Our spare Yankee 2 is stretched out through the length of the boat, with the hanks having been cut off the damaged one, and currently being lashed onto the new one. A laborious and repetitive process, with each of the 18 hanks taking nearly half a hour to lash and finish by hand. Strangely therapeutic work for the first few, then the novelty fast wears off. Alex is currently on the case, and we’re more than half way there. This will give us a full suite of headsails again, allowing us to maximise our performance as much of possible, in spite of the obvious limitation that is our damaged mainsail.
Mr McCann is currently up top driving the bus, and has just called me on deck to have a look at a large yellow object he sighted just ahead of us. We stayed clear and observed it as we cleared past; it seemingly a large yellow navigational mark, but with no apparent purpose. There is nothing marked on any of our electronic or paper charts, so we can only assume it is another of the many items of manmade flotsam that roam the oceans. We have passed much, and do our best to pick up ocean litter where possible. Upon spotting something and realising it could probably better serve the world not floating in the water, we make an approach under sail (so not to risk fouling the prop on unseen submerged tackle), heave-to at the appropriate moment, and slowly drift down and past the object, just close enough for the team on the foredeck to make a final assessment, and snag it with the boat hook if wanted. At best, a small contribution to the oceans we want to protect; at worst a good p
ractice of some of the aspects of MOB recovery under sail, that we regularly like to drill anyway. Large navigational marks are slightly beyond our humble boat hook though, so unfortunately we will have to let this one go.
It does prove the importance of keeping a good lookout at all times, as while it might be an big ocean out here, it never ceases to amaze how often you end up in the same 100 square meters of other objects and ships, despite your vastly different and unrelated courses, speeds, and timings.
The only metaphorical cloud currently sitting over Disco is the chronic lack of chocolate biscuits, or any chocolate, for that matter. It has been too long since an abundant stock of delicatessen of the crumbly sort has graced Disco’s galley in a quantity sufficient to fulfil this skippers passage plan requirements. Seb started well, but no one could have known the rate at which those chocolate digestives and Mars Bars would disappear. Since then, which was somewhere mid-Atlantic I think, life aboard has not been the same. Today, I established why. Ty found me standing with my head against a bulkhead in the galley, and when he enquired as to why, I replied that I was in despair that I couldn’t find any more chocolate on the boat.
Ty took over the role of victualler when Seb sadly departed us, and has done a sterling job to date, so it’s not for me to complain, but he obviously just doesn’t realise the importance of biscuits. After over a month of holding my tongue, I put to him my concern at the situation. It turns out Ty’s “not really a biscuit guy”. Well, if I’d known that he’d never have been given responsibility for such an important element of the boat. Never again shall I let such an oversight so severely affect the smooth running of this vessel. And never again shall I set out to sea without taking sufficient personal stocks of chocolate. I’ve been reduced to snacking on granola, which basically makes me like Renaud now.
Up top, we are ploughing along, a full set of sails above, cutting our path through the seas ahead of us, every now again slamming off the top of a big wave with a huge crash that reverberates throughout the boat. The nav station window to which I currently face is periodically obscured by the ocean rushing past. Several albatross have been accompanying us for the day, swooping through the air as gracefully as any dolphin ploughs a course beneath the ocean. The three above us right now must have a combined wingspan of the entire foredeck at least. So with our new company and no biscuits, we plough through our penultimate Pacific evening.
Date: 26th March 2017
Position: 29-59.8N 116-41.8W
Wind: NNW 5
Swell: Mod NW 5-7ft
Sky: 7/8 cumulus, with cirrus in the east.
With the support of our partner Weather Routing Inc.