The wind changed, in dramatic fashion, from north west to north east this afternoon.
I was catching up on some sleep, dreaming no doubt of gold and rum, when they were interrupted with a vivid dream of trying to avoid falling off a cliff.
I awoke to find that the air had a thick feeling of imminent change. I’m not sure if it is the pureness of ocean weather systems, or perhaps it is a case of less distractions combined with the dominant effect that the weather naturally has on your life, but I find that the weather is much easer to read out here.
They talk of grandmothers feeling the change in their bones, but I find that I get a sensation of impending doom and shame in the pit of my stomach.
I went out on deck to see the line of clouds associated with the clash of systems, when, before my very eyes, the wind went from filling one side of the sail to the other side. I’ve never seen such an abrupt change in wind. I rubbed my eyes and checked my compass, but it was clearly the wind, not us, that had rotated.
And so begins our travels back west.
If you attack a map with a protractor, you’ll find that the west coast of Mexico runs at an angle 35 degrees west of north. Over the course of the next 10 or so days, my course should follow a similar bearing as we do a long westward tack.
There are two reasons for this. The first is that, with prevailing north easterlies, I can’t get the boat to point much higher than due east when I’m on an eastward tack. The second is cyclone risk. Officially the entire region from Mexico to Hawaii between 10° and 30° north is at risk of cyclones between June and November. However the risk is greatly reduced by staying at least 1000 miles off the coast of Mexico.
Every six hours, I religiously tune into the weather station at Point Reyes San Francisco, and my cabin is filled with the beeping and ticking of a radio fax. My phone or laptop turns this into an image and I can see the latest cyclone risk assessment for the entire north east tropics. Any sign of trouble and I’ll take evasive action!
So, weather permitting (ha!), I’ll continue my westing until I get close to parallel with the United States border and then tack back east for my final run.
On examination of the pilot charts (which give the probabilities of wind speed and direction for any month of the year), as well as the entrails of the nearest fish (the later being the more reliable of the two), the wind will hopefully come around to due north once we’re far enough north, allowing us to sail a deep north east tack. If it doesn’t, then I’ll be in for a world of pain and may end up heading north of Los Angeles and then coming back south.
We didn’t make record pace today. Five knot winds saw us make a grand total of just under eighty miles. The forecasts suggest that the winds should strengthen in 24 to 36 hours.
On the other hand, I had pancakes for lunch, followed a good nap in the afternoon heat, followed by tasty tinned beef goulash and cous cous. My stomach and spirit are much contented. There really isn’t much more you can ask from life.
Latitude: 12.941, Longitude: -123.099, Time: 05:19:11 16-06-2018 UTC