Last evening, I came on deck to see the sun and Venus setting. The sky was clear and blue and Venus was amazingly sharp and bright. I had had a Skype talk last week with Murray Lister, Expert, and he said that when aboard New Zealand Pacific, heading east across the Southern Ocean, if he had the morning watch, he would make a point to look for Venus rising ahead. He said that sometimes it seemed so sharp that it almost crackled with intensity, as if sparks would come off it. That’s the way it looked last night, just amazing.
Later in the night, the wind died completely, such that our boatspeed went below where the pilot could steer. I had to roll up the genoa, which was just flapping, and turn off the autopilot, and let the boat drift in circles. The consolation to this was the intensity of the stars. And I went to get the star book, to identify the Southern Cross, and Alpha and Beta Centauri, of the Centaur constellation. This was only the second time in the race that I have gotten the book out, which just shows how gray and overcast the Southern Ocean was, all the way across.
This morning we were in thick fog, and the wind direction was way off what it was supposed to be from the weather files. We were heading essentially due True east. As our intended course is Northeast, this was only 45 degrees off and if we tacked, we would be at least 45 degrees off on the other side. But after several hours, I could not stomach it anymore. I needed North, which is the direction of progress, and warmth, and even if it was ultimately less efficient, I needed North for me.
So, in the fog, we laboriously tacked. Roll up the genoa, tack with the mainsail, roll out the genoa. And about 200 yards later, we came out of the fog into a brilliant sunshine day. I think the fog was private for us. And the wind shifted to allow us a reasonable angle to the North Northwest. I explored an option for routing to the west, but ultimately, decided to tack back and see if we had anything closer to what was forecast. We started up the track for our intended waypoint off Brazil
The routing calculations simulate various pathways, and give you the optimum. Of course this is all theoretical within essentially a laboratory setting of perfect data. Yet we know that the GRIB files have widely imperfect data (forecasting is incredibly hard), so each of the optimum routings is based on incorrect data. So how much faith should one have in them? Perhaps they can suggest pathways, but one ought not follow them precisely, I don’t think.
So now we are back in fog, after an afternoon of sunshine, and heading Northeast.