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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fingernails - in at least 2 episodes

0700/15th position 2255 02129 trip 5247=87/24 Cape Town 2190 This post started yesterday afternoon.

Seems we might just have hooked our fingernails into the top of the low hoofing east below us and we're hanging on as best we can - wind dropping and fickle, twin poled and rolling in the swell. If we can hold on to it - lucky - and we look good for tomorrow as well, then a bloody great hole for a day and then the next low. They are further north than I expected which seems to be a bit of a helping hand. We'll see - we still have to get ourselves 600 miles south across their paths and the second one has attitude.

Hot and tedious out here. Another 45 miles south and we're out of the tropics - hoooley doooley. Then the difficult bit starts. But those 45 miles are not going to be easy either.

We've been playing with the sextant - or Pete has and I've done the Merlin bit - but at civil twilight I'm going out to see whether I can grab Jupiter to add to Pete's earlier sun sight. Lots of fluffy cu so may be difficult.

Later - Jupiter was difficult - but got something else yet to identify. Possibly Achernar but the sight may not be good enough to decide. And then remembered that we need a current almanac to reduce planet sights so no Jupiter anyway. Cape Town perhaps.

Later still - middle watch again - I can't remember ever seeing stars in the night sky from horizon to horizon - there's always a layer of haze low down and cloud somewhere. Tonight is almost Khayyam's Bowl of Night - a little thickening of the density to the north and the stars don't quite make it through but a soft transition from the reflected starlight and phosphorescent twinkles on the water to the real thing above everywhere else - Jupiter in the west with a brilliant trail over the water like one of those christmas cards of the three kings following their star. I sit in the cockpit, chin resting on a winch, Berri in gentle shooshle with the gap between the big dark triangles of the poled out headsails rolling its arc from Rigel through Sirius past Canopus. The gas cloud is a bright fuzz almost to Achernar. The Cross just above the horizon. I will remember these nights as long as my three neurons continue to converse through their torpid synapse. Clear, awesome, overpowering wonder at the beauty of it all and my own insignificance. I'm just a few gerzillion organic molecules soon to be dispersed again along with their momentary cohesion of consciousness, my track through spacetime infinitesimally tiny and irrelevant.

We're not really in the complicated system to the south - the fingernails scraped along the turbulence and lost it so we're just trickling along in the swirls of soft breeze stirred up by its passage. Tomorrow will be a hole but there's a chance that the next low - the serious one - will give us a boost as it rolls past us. It has at least 50 knots close to its centre about 900 miles to the south. I hope Groupama hooked into it and are riding their slingshot eastwards.

I'll send this with the 0700 position to save on iridium. Steve W has gone bush for the w/e probably with no mobile signal so we won't get any mail until at least then anyway.