Six days into his ocean crossing, Nick Jaffe wrestles with downwind sail variations

I am now 624nm from Hawaii, which is roughly 1200km? Or, in more practical terms, possibly six days of sailing? Mostly things are going well, however I am somewhat disappointed in my progress, and a little annoyed at the tradewinds. There is of course no point in being annoyed, however when one has expectations, I guess it becomes disappointing when things don’t go as hoped. Which of course, is why ridding oneself of expectation and assumption is always a step in the right direction! Easier said than done.

I’ve spent many days playing with rig combinations to maintain Constellation on a straight course for my destination, yet nothing is ever perfect. Every boat has its best point of sail, yet I’ve not yet found Constellation’s most favourable downwind configuration. Which is kind of amusing, because I spent about 25 days in the Atlantic going downwind, and I’ve just spent over a week now in the Pacific doing the same thing? The problem here is, I have some daft belief that I can go downwind comfortably and quickly. Unfortunately, those two things don’t go hand in hand, although I do continue to try? I’ve tried ‘wing on wing’ (twin jibs) in varying combinations, mainsail plus wing on wing, and the the standard calm-seas downwind rig of the ‘butterfly’ which is the mainsail sheeted right out, and jib (in my case, poled) on the opposing tack. So what works? Nothing really. But, to be honest, the technicalities of all this are probably tedious if not boring for most – Besides, it all just gives me something to do during the day.

Day to day, nothing much of interest has happened? No more whale sightings (I did see some near the coast of California), no more dolphins, and only one, mocking bird (not in a literal sense): A rather large bird that appears whenever the squalls do, and flies in circles above me, dipping and arching its wing in contour with the waves, as it vanishes beneath the crests? I’m not sure why it visits during squalls, but, it has done so like clockwork.

While on the topic of squalls, I have to say the Pacific has thrown up its fair share. Compared to the Atlantic, where squalls also frequented, the ones in this ocean come more frequently and are more unpredictable. My Atlantic squalls were always generally rather placid. The trades were blowing at 20kts consistently, and the squall would blow through with an additional 10kts of breeze and be done. Out here, I can never tell how hard it will blow, and just yesterday a small looking cloud set, kicked up both foam and spindrift, which I haven’t seen in awhile. Today, squalls have come through in varying force, but most of all, they’ve wrecked the trades and kept me from going many miles done? The Pacific trades have also been light and inconsistent just generally – The NOAA GRIB data reports usually around 15kts in my area – They always over-report, and I would expect it’s more like 12-15kts. This is all due to the Pacific high, and maybe it just hasn’t properly settled yet? Or maybe, this is just how it is.

All in all, I don’t have too many complaints, although I am looking forward to a quiet sleep at anchor or tied up somewhere, and maybe some fresh fruit?

Thanks as always for the nice messages people send me. Hello to the Waddle family, and for those sending me email addresses to reply to, I will do so from land.