Air Power - Log day 11

Day 11-Nov 15th.

It's quite clear to us, we are not going to make the medal ceremonies, let alone, get a spot on the podium. We'll be glad if the tents are still up, and there is still a slice of pizza left, when we arrive. Even some discarded crust wouldn't be bad. At 300 miles to go, we still had to sail Air Power upwind to our destination. We all carry a finite amount of fuel, and we need to use it wisely, less we run out at some point. So, on we sailed.

One of the nice features of our autopilot instrument, is that it allows you to track the wind. That means, if you want to sail 45 degrees into the wind (upwind), no matter if the wind shifts, the autopilot will keep the bow (front) of the boat into the wind. 45 degrees is about the maximum limitation for us with this sea state. Even at that angle, we slow to about 3 knots of speed. Mono-hulls, on the other hand can go more like 30 degrees into the wind.

Last night, after Jill finished her watch and went to sleep, I was staring at the wind gauge, paying attention to our apparent wind as we were traveling SW. I saw that our course had started to creep more westerly, then northwesterly. We were now traveling in a direction that was going to find us on a Florida beach. So I woke Jill up just as she really found that sweet spot in falling asleep. It is time to Tack. We needed to change our direction from NW to SE. Once we completed this maneuver, set the sails, Jill went back into the saloon where we have a day bed to sleep on. It's better for the person on watch, to stick their head into the saloon, via the opened sliding glass door to ask for assistance, instead of going below and leaving the helm unattended.

The general rule is, if we experience any good fortune during the watch, such as making a minimum of 6-7 knots in the direction we want to go, the person on watch takes credit. Even if they didn't do anything. It must be our government service background that provides this justification. So during my watch, we are hitting speeds that flirted with 9 knots and we were sailing to the SE, which would put us in good position to reverse the Tack the following morning. For the first time, I felt like Russel Crowe's character from the movie "Master and Commander". Truly, it was my great skill and seamanship that brought forth this good fortune. Jill says I'm conveniently forgetting to mention that during this three hour watch we only went 3 miles toward our destination--oh yeah, we were going fast, but making no headway.

By this morning, we had gone some 60 miles to the east, but lost some of our southerly direction and even had a distance traveled to destination of zero miles over a three hour period--I guess it could have been worse, could have been negative. So we tacked back to go SW again and pretty much found ourselves just a few short miles south of our original point. Frustrating, you think? How about a weather report saying we have a few more days of the winds out of the south. We decided to cut our losses short, and fire up one of the engines and head directly into the wind and south. We are carrying spare diesel, but wishing we had more. I'll be thinking about driving across America's Lonliest Highway, with my fuel gauge getting close to Elvis, wishing I could pick up Larry King on the am frequency.

Still beating into the wind--only a little less than 300 miles to go.

That is all news from Air Power for today.--Dave & Jill