Thursday, August 11, 2011

Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold

We're out here doing a Goldilocks on the weather again. I think most non-sailors assume that the big worry out here is storms, the convergence zones, high winds, big waves. These are all a concern, no question. When the trades get strongly reinforced by a southerly low going by or a nasty front on the leading edge of a trough swings through the region, you can see some rough weather and rougher seas. The crossing from French Polynesia through the Cook Islands and over to Tonga and Fiji is known as the Dangerous Middle for a reason.

On the other hand, sailors experienced with the long haul passages of the big oceans are equally familiar with Don Quixote's current problem which is winds too light to go anywhere. With a very mild high south of here, the usual 15 to 20 knot trade winds are moderated down to almost nothing. This morning on the net we heard report after report of boats motoring around or simply bobbing in the swell. Motoring in these conditions becomes necessary mostly for comfort. With a 2 meter swell from the south and in the absence of a steady wind, a boat tends to move beam to the sea and roll heavily and slowly and nauseatingly. This is discouraging, boring, and incredibly enervating for the crew. Because you are in the middle of the ocean, you must continue to maintain a watch as powered vessels can still run you down if you fail to pay attention. After a day or so of this, many sailors get frustrated and fire up the engine.

Of course, if you are sitting at anchor and the weather report is 5 to 10 from the east for the next five days, you have more options. You can, for example, go diving. Go for a walk on the beach, swim around the boat, do boat chores, get ahead on school, play the guitar, pick lint out of your navel. There are sundowners by the beach camp fire in the evenings, sudoku in the cockpit as the sun rises while sipping a hot cappuchino. Bread to bake, beans to boil, sprouts to start. You can just sit here in Mopelia, in other words, waiting for more favorable conditions.

Unless you are traveling with DrC.

I'm not sure how much longer all this life in paradise thing is going to last with him. He doesn't like being in one spot for too long. This week in Mopelia is proceeded by a week in Bora Bora and prior to that almost a week in Huahine and a week in Tahiti. It's all very frustrating for Mr. Man Of Many Anchorages. Yesterday, I sent him out on the reef to dive with the other boats. Today, we pitched him overboard with his eldest to do pass drift dives. As a side note, the divers are reporting the best conditions since the Tuamotus with outstanding coral formations, diverse sea life, sharks, whales, sting rays, and a ship wreck to investigate. Unfortunately, I am at a complete loss for what to suggest for tomorrow. Even the most optimistic reading of the gribs doesn't give us any wind for at least another three days. That Swiss Family Robinson tree house is beginning to look like a better and better idea.


inklenaomi said...

chinese fire drill?
don't know what that looks like on a boat, but it sure can keep a body busy.

Heather on Meerkat said...

Sleep. I'd sleep. Must be weird to be "stuck" in an anchorage due to too little wind. Always been the opposite for us, which means you can't leave the boat for that Chinese Fire Drill or pass diving...