Thursday, January 05, 2012

Cruise of the ‘Ishani’, a 26’ Eventide – Part 5

Saturday, 30th May, and what a difference twenty four hours can make to sea conditions. Here’s the Skipper’s account:

The day dawns with drizzle. We were still hove to after an uncomfortable night. At 0934 the barometer reading was 1,019 millibar. As we had the trysail set I decided to make further repairs to the mainsail which was showing signs of wear along the seams where they chafe against the backstays. Sitting in the cabin looking down at the job brought on a further bout of seasickness.

Bill Serjeant calculated the drift for the previous 17 hours to have been 25.7 miles in a south-easterly direction. By 1145 the wind had dropped to a force 4, so the trysail was handed, and the repaired mainsail was set with one reef. (Note: In addition to roller reefing, the sail had traditional reefing pendants.) We were now sailing at our average cruising speed of 4.3 knots. Bill worked a sun sight giving us a position of 46 degrees 22 minutes north, and exactly 13 degrees west at 1500. We were actually one third of the way towards the Azores along our chosen track.

By 1600 the barometric pressure had risen to 1,023.5 millibar, which indicated there had been a rapid rise of 4.5 millibar in five-and-a-half hours, i.e., 0.8 millibars an hour. The wind gradually decreased and backed to the west. We cooked dinner in the pressure cooker. Thankfully, I managed to retain my share. As the evening drew in, a beautiful sickle-shaped moon was reflected from the ocean’s almost mirror-like surface.

Sunday, 31st May.

Here my story continues:

Sunrise heralded a gentle wind from the west. We increased sail to full main and Genoa, but we could not coax ‘Ishani’ to self-steer, which meant we had to resort to the tedious business of hand steering. We were visited by a school of porpoises that made a thorough examination of the boat. The sky was showing signs of approaching bad weather. There was alto cirrus to the west, and cumulus clouds were gathering overhead. Disturbingly there was a yellow halo around the sun. Notwithstanding these portents, the barometer continued to rise to 1,030.5 millibar. We were experiencing the calm before the storm. It seemed prudent to run the engine to charge the ship’s batteries.

Later that afternoon a beautiful black bird with a white ‘V’ on its back circled around ‘Ishani’ before heading eastwards. We were virtually becalmed, and the undulating movement of the sea frustratingly caused the sails to slat to and fro. Satisfied that the batteries were fully charged we cut the engine. From thereon we made little progress until early evening. By way of boredom, Bill grabbed the foghorn and blew into it, whereupon a whale surfaced nearby. This may have been pure coincidence, or it could have been in response to the sounding of the horn. The large but gentle creature gave us a wink, snorted through his blowhole, and disappeared into the deep, never to be seen again.

By 1705 the barograph recorded a fall of 2.5 millibar since early morning, and correspondingly the wind returned, so that ‘Ishani’ tramped along nicely under full sail, the main and both foresails.

Text for the Day

Philippians 4:7 ‘The peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’

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