Around The World Voyage : Commentary : Leg 4

May 18, 2002

The next time you log on to our website, don't skip immediately to our opening page. Take a minute and watch the sea action with our slogan about being oceans apart from the rest. Those waves? Pond ripples. Wish I could send you live footage of what is happening out side of either wheel house door right now.

We’re 80 miles or so off the northern coast of Venezuela and Dan called it right, we’re in some repository of wave convergence and current spiffed up with wind and swell. This all kicked in late afternoon yesterday as we are angling in closer to shore. It was not a great night for sleeping. This boat is weaving and bobbing – think first round prize fighter amped up on a pot of coffee.

NORDHAVN is getting a complete salt water hull rinse. We’re not seeing water coming over the gunwhales but our round bilges are letting us wallow, writhe and wiggle like we’re trying to snuggle into a nest and want to make sure every branch is in it’s place. It’s the boating equivalent of a dog targeting a place on the carpet to sleep and then doing that mystical circling ritual – they always end up in the exact right position and NORDHAVN takes all of this like one of those stand up punching bags and bobs right back into position and true to course. Maybe we should be belt and suspendering it by deploying the paravanes, but for now we are relying solely on the Naiad’s to catch us when we stumble.

Sleep? That’s a thing land lubbers do, right? Dan and Mike might have pulled it off (I’d be impressed), but I think I was only able to get some faux sleep an hour and a half after my graveyard shift (5:30) and only after I was so tired I could finally erase every last thought from my mind. Lying in my berth as dawn arrived I closed my eyes. I sleep feet forward on this boat. I tried head forward, but it didn’t work for me because I couldn’t figure out what to do with my arms. Does rest count? Will I be refreshed or get some kind of credit for closing my eyelids? All I can do is think, lying in my bunk. Think about anything on the boat or at home and I’m not going to fall asleep. I’m just resting, on a comfortable foam cushion without any control over the motion which is the most insane pulsating water bed sled careening down a winding mountain road sliding around the turns motion of the ocean… hey this must be why I can’t get to sleep.

8:30 I’m awake, half an hour until my turn again. I guess I did get some sleep and now after a couple cups’a coffee and a nice bowl of Zucosos (Barbadian Sugar Frosted Flakes) I’m on the job.

I suppose each of the crew members on the earlier ATW legs have had it much worse, in fact I’m positive they did. Just the fact that we have the wind behind us is a major factor. After our first day at sea I decided I should clean off the wheel house windows and put on some Rain-x outside so that the rain and spray would bead off when/if we hit the nasty weather. We haven’t even turned on our wipers and haven’t had enough rain to rinse off the deck. We’re complaining because we’re surfing down waves and running into the swell in front that is traveling the same direction as us. Good job all previous ATW crewmembers, you persevered – Dan, Mike and I appreciate our good fortune and thank you for setting us up so nicely.

We retired the wheelhouse stool last night – if you’re not sitting on it to pin it to the floor you’ll spend all you time playing ‘topple stool’, and it makes a loud noise. So it’s flat on its’ side and pushed out of the way.

The motion on board is like a crazy pendulum without a string – we yaw and pitch, heel side to side and always come back to an upright reset position. This is Rock and Roll. Looking straight ahead through the wheel house windows you pitch - no sky, only sea on the ride down, then all sky and no sea on the uptake. At the same time you heel to port 10 to 15 degrees and then bounce back the opposite way to starboard.

We’re just a full displacement 40’ trawler plodding along at hull speed. I can think of a lot of boats I would not want to be on, but after three plus days at sea my confidence in NORDHAVN is unquestioned. We might not be sleeping, but we can do everything else, and I bet our minds and bodies will adapt to this new motion and grant us a little shut eye at some point. It’s an exciting ride and we are safe, secure and making progress towards our waypoint.

Saturday May 18, 2002.
Lat. = N 12. 43.598 Lon. = W69. 36.379
Speed (always reported SOG speed over ground) via GPS is approx. 7.0
Heading (an average but close to our track course) averaging 270 degrees 27 miles to waypoint


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