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The captain is only the captain. The galley head, however, is the ship's chief.

Crossing the South Pacific
Part 2

September 1, 2005

36'24S 156'08W

We are back on course after running away from a low that blocked our path. We put the big seas on our port butt and let the sails out. The wind was a steady 35 gusting to 45 at the worst of it and the seas built until one would break over the pilot house every 15 minutes, causing Onora to slide off sideways as the next wave slammed her on the side before she righted and resumed her run. The small orange storm jib was all the canvass we carried. It was uncomfortable but never scary. This is a good boat.

September 5, 2005

39'00S 144'02W

News from home is of Hurricane Katrina. Today, a week later, we heard that thousands may have died. The Tsunami of last year took hundreds of thousands. It is a sober reminder that we are at the mercy of the weather out here as well as onshore. Here it is top priority. We spend two hours a day getting faxes and weather reports and interpreting them in an attempt to miss the bad stuff and maximize the good.

September 9, 2005

39'13S 129'40W

It has been blowing in the low 30's all night. The wind howls and the sea is building. We are caught in what looks like a three day race in front of a low that the low will win. We have turned north to let the worst of it pass underneath us.

Our orange storm sails pull us along. Onora is a runaway train heading across the stormy waters. The floorboards are screwed down and the netting covers the books. We use a seat belt to hold us our bunk.

It will be a long three days.

September 11, 2005

39'42S 122'17W

It was a long day. The wind and seas grew steadily to peak at 52 knots and twenty feet. Seas were washing over us and pushing us over until the boom dragged in the water.

In the early morning we had to get sail down. The autopilot could not keep steer. When we reached the crests of the waves the gusts knocked the boat over and the waves broke over us. We put on our foul weather gear and harnesses and climbed out into the howling weather.

It took about an hour to get the trysail down. With just the storm jib up the autopilot was back in control but there was nothing we could do to get out of the storm. The monster waves were too big to turn against. The storm had us and all we could do was ride it out.

Finally, at midday, rain began pelting down and the wind abruptly shifted and dropped with the front, backing to the west. We put up the main with three reefs and started moving again, East North East to get away from the low.

We awoke the next morning with every bone aching. The sun was out and the wind had dropped to the low 20's. We put up the jib and picked up speed to nine knots. We took the day off.

- Click here for Part 3 -




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