TRADE WINDS?

November 19, 2008

The Trade Winds and tales of idyllic tropical downwind sailing are only stories told by old sailors to lure the young and naive. Sailing for 18 days and we have yet come upon such fabled conditions. Our voyage is an up wind struggle, the breeze continuously in front of the beam. We are riding the edge of one or more frontal systems, making our way east-southeast trying to avoid the worst.

The cheeky winds play with us. At times, it gusts up to 30 knots, chopping the heads off waves like a guillotine sending salty spray into the air and forcing us to arm-wrestle the wheel. It then drops to a whisper leaving us to the mercy of the rebellious waves as they toss the boat around. Sometimes the wind is courteous, blowing just right allowing the boat to reach hull speed and ride the waves with a gentle role.

We are surrounded by cumulus nimbus clouds. Large, their bellies black full of rain. Short and heavy downpours hit us washing the boat as we pass under the clouds. During the day, the heavy rain can be seen in every direction for miles. Rainbows, created by the bright sun shining through water droplets, radiate brightly all around us before disappearing. At night, lightening lights up the night sky and the heavy clouds obscure the moon and stars. Sheets of rain conceal the horizon creating a dark void into which we sail.

New York to South Africa (10 of 46)

The mood of the crew is good as we all get along and have distractions to keep us occupied. Today (November 18) we caught three dolphin fish – our first; Captain John acted like a little boy who had caught is first fish ever. We ate well having fresh fish for lunch and dinner. We give thanks for their sacrifice.

New York to South Africa (14 of 46)

Yet, despite the good humour , frustration seeps through the crew. The crew is tired of the upwind sailing, excellent it may be; tired of the inconsistent winds making sail selection difficult; and tired by not having the trade winds promised by everything we read.

We have lost a week, perhaps more, by not having the expected conditions that have reduced our speed significantly, as we fight the wind and waves. Everybody wonders how long it will take to reach Cape Town.

Hope prevails, however. We know that part of sailing is being at the clemency of the winds and having to deal with what is dealt us – that is part of the adventure. So we continue to sail to the edge of the world in search of the fabled trades.

114 Responses to “TRADE WINDS?”

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