Map Display

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Sneaking Past the Giant

… we're now past and behind him. He's out there shaking his fist at other hapless mariners bound for Greenland from the UK or Iceland. Although his ugly face is turned towards them and they're enduring his gale-force winds, he's also managing to kicking up the dirt in our direction. We're sailing close-hauled with fairly high winds against us. Fortunately, we seem to be in our own little South Cape Farvel weather system and we are not far from where this wind starts blowing. This means the wave heights are not bad, and we're spared the huge upward thumps which ruin any attempt to do productive work.

What's the motion like? Imagine that you're on a trampoline with a random-motion-inducing machine attached which fails to honour any self-initiated action. Or that you've a nasty King-Kong sized adolescent in charge of your motions. He's playing with one of those children's toys which features a ball attached by elastic to a ping-pong racket. Reduced in this schema to the size of the ball, you're being tossed around at the whim of this malevolent character.

Seasickness was not a problem when my family sailed the N Atlantic via ship. Of course, it was really luxurious aboard the Maasdam and the Carinthia in the 50's during the heyday of big ocean-going vessels. Although ship passengers can experience some of this discomfort it's just not the same. They have the advantage of not having to do any work. We have to stand our full 12 hours of watches daily, attend to the weather, the charts, the sails, the icebergs and also all the domestic tasks. Every single task (especially in the galley or heads) is magnified in difficulty.

However (you say!) we've chosen this life. How do we cope with storms?

Firstly long before the advent of the storm, and while the boat is still quite stable, we batten down all the hatches (read a previous blog to see how we do this). An hour before really bad weather, we each install a Scapalomine patch to combat seasickness. These last for 3 days, and Larry rarely uses more than one whereas I sometimes resort to a second one if I still feel queasy.

In heavy weather, we find it essential to keep to our routines as much as possible. I remember when we started on my first offshore trip, we were trying to keep 6-hr watches. These quickly failed when one of us woke up and caught the other sleeping with a ringing alarm on their chest! We now alternate days. One day I'm "on" from 0800 to 1200, 1600-1800, 2000-2400 and 0400 to 0800. Now I'm "off" at 0800 and I will not cook or do dishes all this second day.

If we're on starboard tack the wind is blowing from the right-hand side of the boat. In this tack, all our dishes fall out of the cupboard if opened at the wrong time, and the stove is hard to work at. We make food preparation more simple. We call this "shower tack" because the drain is far to the left of the shower.

IN 20-30 KNOT HEAD WINDS: … especially on "shower" tack, we sometimes eat pizza or bread and butter. We dispense with salads and our normal Traversay III dessert. We only wash dishes once daily. We eat lots of nuts and chocolate.

On port (or "galley"tack), we don't shower because we get nasty bruises and the drain is on the port side. I don't use the computer because it's nearly impossible for me to keep my balance at the chart table (which is at a bad slant). I can read but I choose books that make no emotional claim on my limited resources - (biographies of happy people, certain kind authors). You'll also find me working numerous Sudoku puzzles in little booklets.

We don't have AS MUCH trouble cooking on this tack, and we take turns. I think so far this week I'm winning the cooking Challenge. Even though Larry came up with steak one night, he had to resort to pizza last night. So far this week I've cooked a crabmeat rotini dish, a pork tenderloin curry and today I'm making a green Thai-style chicken curry. I have used up the wonderful peppers grown in geo-thermal greenhouses in Iceland. I now wish we'd purchased a bushel of them and a bushel of tomatoes. From this you can tell we're on "galley" or port tack.

IN 35-40 KNOT HEAD-WINDS: I tend to try to sleep whenever I'm off-watch if the motion isn't too bad. When on-watch (and especially in the middle of the night), I cannot read or even work puzzles. On watch I set the alarm for 12 minutes to check the sails and watch for traffic. Mostly I just endure. Our friend Henrik gave me some little licorice pastilles from Denmmark. Munching on these has the added advantage of lubricating the mouth (dry mouth is one bad side-effect of Scapalomine). I'll be purchasing a lot more in Nuuk.

We're glad the worst threats of this trip seem to be over, and that we just need to endure 3 or 4 more days of 20-30 knot winds. 35-40 knots plus is not something you want to experience in a small boat.

At 27/06/2013 13:41 (utc) our position was 58°19.25'N 044°55.47'W


  1. Good you made it to Narssaq, its safe. Now just those nasty northerly to face but the current will be good. You will meet some yachts awaiting open NWP while Baffin is melting well.

  2. Finally caught up with after all these years Larry. Following your global circumnavigation . Wendy catch up! My 66th birthday!! Can't believe how time flys. I live in the country 20 min west of YEG airport. Is Traversay III permanent residence now?

    Ken Beleshko