We got through the night OK, close reaching across the waves and into them a little bit, with staysail and 2 reefs in the mainsail. Mostly 25 knots of wind, and 30 plus across the deck. The motion was tolerable except for the occasional huge crash , but the noise was what became intolerable. The constant howling of the wind through the rigging just reminds you, second, to second to second, that it is not hospitable outside. That is reinforced by the noise of sheets of spray, from almost every wave, hitting the cabin top. The combination puts the nerves on a razor edge, and its difficult to take a nap or get any rest.
After the New York – Vendée race last spring (we did not sail it), there was a story from Jérémie Beyou about using noise-canceling headphones to try to get some peace, and that in fact the new ‘foilers’ were even noisier than the regular Open 60s. I emailed him asking further info, he kindly replied yes, they worked, and recommended them. So I got a pair. And last night I finally tried them in earnest.
At sea, often the first indication of a problem is a new sound within the normal cacophony. So there is a risk to eliminating most of the noise. Nonetheless, there is also a risk to having no sleep. I could connect them if I wished to the iphone for music, or not. Amazingly, if I put them on at the chart table, they are comfortable, and muffle most noise at least a bit, but when I flip the little switch, suddenly it becomes eerily quiet, and it’s wonderful! So I tried a combination, and listened to the soothing Chants of the Saint Benedictine Monks through the noise-canceling headphones.
I didn’t notice when the CD finished as I was sound asleep! And in the crashing and wind-howling too!
We’ve been in the vicinity of a riddle of sorts for the US. What are the westernmost, easternmost, northernmost and southernmost states? I’ll jump to the answer: Alaska, Alaska, Alaska, Hawaii. Alaska’s Aleutian Island chain spans the International Date Line, and thus is in both eastern and western hemispheres!
I bring this up because yesterday we crossed the longitude of Fairbanks, Alaska, a town of great importance to me, although I have never been there. My mother, who died in 2010 sadly at 93, grew up in Tacoma, Washington, and went to Fairbanks after college, in 1940, to help build and then run the first commercial radio station in the Alaskan Territory (it wouldn’t become a state for another 20 years). She hosted a show of local news called Tundra Topics, which is still broadcast today.
What an adventure! And for a single woman too, to go to 64 degrees North for a job at age 23! My mother was truly the first adventurer in our family. And although I’ve had a few adventures myself, I always think of them as ‘just trying to keep up with my mother!’
She was also so modest about her adventures, and would simply say, ‘oh, I had wonderful opportunities’. Yet it must be said that many would have said ‘no’ to these opportunities, and she said ‘yes’.
When I raced Vendée Globe 2008, mom was slowly declining, and losing some alertness to Alzheimer’s. Yet her caretakers told me after the race, that she absolutely was calmer, and knew, after we had rounded Cape Horn.
She was an enormous influence in my life. This is the Eulogy that I gave at her funeral.
50° 11’S x 139° 09’W
True Wind Speed
True Wind Direction
Sails (click for sail diagram)
Mainsail (1 reef), Solent
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