A very interesting post from Alex via Pangea posted today.
Feeling Low 1005, a Gale, and The Synthetic Specter on Deck
Well, at least we’re consistent on this voyage. We’re like a magnet for crap weather out here and once again have found ourselves stuck in a low pressure system that’s spewing big winds, drenching us in torrential downpours and making my eyes glue to the barometer for any signs of respite. The needle has hung at 1005 for a long time now–days. Before weatherfax and grib files emailed via satellite, mariners depended on the barometer for all. Even the most sophisticated heavy weather sailing books will all say this: know your ocean (meaning, know where the low pressure storm systems originate and which way they track and spin typically), know where to position yourself (at the bottom of the low) and go towards high pressure. Even being four to five degrees of latitude away (240-300 nautical miles) can mean the difference between 90 mile an hour winds and 30-40, like we’ve had. Right now, we’re steering Northeast about 250 nautical miles west from Midway Atoll marine park (a protected area) and south winds are pushing the low pressure system we’re in north, but it’s a big system, and we we’re sitting in the center of it right now at 1005, the reading on the barometer.
Below deck is like a gym locker room where wet clothing and leaky foul weather gear ferments like Kim Chi in a salty mix of sea and human juices making for a stench that hits the nose like rice vinegar in sunlight. Sea Dragon was made to get to where you want to go safely and swiftly, but where she excels in seaworthiness she lacks in creature comforts. Without the ability to open the hatches because of rain and splashing, it turns into a sweat locker, where it’s so moist inside it actually drips condensation from the ceiling. Below deck, we have created our own weather system, and without any backup ventilation, we’re essentially forced to just grin and bear it. To be fair, this is typically the case with any boat in a similar circumstance. We’re building character quickly out here, and we’re more than ready to quit building character and experience the brochure like beach party we were told about on the first leg of this expedition.
Last night we had a full gale. Crazy squalls came and went, taking the wind from 7 to 40 knots and back down inside of a couple hours. Put in a reef, take out a reef, turn on the engine, turn off the engine—and buckets of rain. Rain like someone spraying you in the face full blast with a hose for hours on end. We’re wet, we’re bumped, we’re bruised and we’re building character. SOOO DAMN much character. In these sorts of conditions, exhaustion settles in. I had a small hallucination last night where I saw a man run across the bow of the ship—amazing that I could see anything whilst being exfoliated by sideways rain, but yes, I saw something—he wasn’t creepy, but he’s not on the crew roster. Shannon has seen the man too, as has Rodrigo. We’ve named him The Synthetic Specter.
But still, even in these conditions, we’re managing to gather data. We’re logging the myriad plastic flotsam that passes by like a human stain of a promise kept. Pray for sun and next time you open your window, don’t take it for granted.