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The Vengeance of the Weather God

by Nancy Knudsen on 3 Jun 2007
Nancy lisping on the radio BW Media
Hughie, as you probably know, is the weather god, and this is a warning to those who go sailing: Beware of Hughie. Several days ago, I cast aspersions on the perfection of the weather where we are sailing, between the Galapagos and the Marquesas, and Hughie has been wreaking his vengeance ever since. My mistake was intimating that the perfect weather we had was – dare I say it? ... b – o – r – i – n – g.

The first thing that happened was that I thought I saw a ship on the horizon, dipped my head to get a better look at the same time as Hughie sent a roguish wave slapping the boat, crashed my chin into a winch putting my tooth through my bottom lip. This gave me a somewhat lopsided look and a bit of a lisp.

The next thing was that the wind piped up to something more than pleasant, and another freak wave slapped against the boat, lurching me across the saloon to break a middle toe on a piece of the furniture. Now I have three big toes, only seven small toes, and a bit of a limp – not to mention the gritted smile.

Then there were the lazy jacks. After ten or so years of hard work (they're for lazy sailors – the jacks do all the work), they gave way, obliging a trip up the mast for Skipper Ted, mid-ocean. So I lisp that 'I'm coming', and limp to the foredeck to do the hauling.

Going up the mast in mid ocean when a sea is running is not fun, and as there was a pole in place at the time that had to be leapt over on the way up, it provided me with some morning entertainment just watching. At least one of us enjoyed it, in a lispy limpy sort of way.

So this was already turning out to be a less than perfect sail, but Hughie the Weather god was not appeased yet.

The wind, forecast by all three gurus that we consult – buoyweather, grib files and Met – was forecast for 15-20 knots, and that's what most of our fleet in the Southern Cross Net reported in the daily scheds.

However, not so for Blackwattle. We seemed to have a private wind, shared with only one other boat that was close, of 25-35 knots, producing 8 and occasionally 9 knots, hour after hour. (Blackwattle's hull speed is 6.5 knots)

So after a day or two of this the seas rose to amazing heights behind the boat, threatening our equanimity and our still-dry decks. When the boom started a love affair with the higher waves, and worse, my cup of coffee took off airborne across the cockpit depriving me of its contents and colliding with the coaming, it was time to let off the boom vang and, for good measure, put a double reef in the main.

In the meantime I had started apologising continually and profusely to Weather god Hughie, promising I would never never complain about perfect weather again.

I am glad to say that this strategy worked, and we are now back in 15-20 knot winds, the sun is shining, we are drifting along at a pleasant six knots.

I have stopped lisping, my toe is happily secured in a very protective sailing sandal, our decks are dry, the coffee is remaining in its coffee holder, and the boom is riding high and dry. So are we. Am I complaining? No way!

The good news is that Blackwattle has just crossed the half way point to the Marquesas, with just 1500 nautical miles to go. The Southern Cross Net, that informal group of around 20 boats that self-help by joining a sched twice a day, are now spread out over most of the 3000 miles between the Galapagos and Marquesas.

All's well on all boats, with the exception of minor breakages. Most of the boats have crossed at least one ocean before, so the experience level is higher than when we crossed the Atlantic, and the Pacific Ocean (except when you upset the local weather god) is an easier more pleasant ocean to sail.

Will the second half of the sail be as enjoyable? We must wait and see......
Sail World NZ Lone WolfSouthern Spars - 100Insun - AC Program

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