Feeling Low 1005, a Gale, and The Synthetic Specter on Deck

Jun 25 2012

stormy

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.