Friday, May 19, 2006

Dolphins and Storms and Birds, Oh My!

I can’t start with the usual numbers without first writing about our entertainment this morning. At around 10 a.m., we spotted dolphins off the bow. We went forward and were treated to the antics of several dozen Clymene Dolphins as they dove and jumped and charged and dodged the boat and each other. Four or five would surface together off on one side, others would be taking spiral rolling leaps ahead, and more would be racing the boat and coming back for more after triumphant wins on the other side of the boat. The only way to describe their movement is as play. They seemed to put on a show just for us, and almost as quickly as they appeared, an hour later they turned to port in unison, and disappeared. It was breathtaking.

Current location is 27 21.814N 065 21.288W. We are 298 nm south of Saint George, Bermuda. Wind is SE around 20 knots. We are headed 19 degrees, and are on a run, with only the mainsail flying. We have hit a favorable current and our speed is above 7 knots although our speed through the water is much less. Winds are predicted to ease over the next two days, although at this pace, we will be in Bermuda Sunday night. The more likely arrival will be Monday morning. The barometer is holding steady at 1016, which is somewhat surprising, given an overcast day, and rain. We can see heavier rain coming from the West, and the wind is predicted to shift to SW. Air temp is a comfortable 79.4 degrees. We are learning that a stationary front means that the weather repeats itself and really is stationary.

Last night was our first encounter with a storm. The wind swung wildly from southwest to northeast to southeast, and we saw gusts as high as 27 and lows that bottomed out at 3 knots. Not a major storm, but we did have strong lightning and thunder. For the first time, we put on our foulies, and I even put on long johns under to keep the cold and dampness at bay. We naturally fell into two hour watches, in part because both crew were needed on deck several times to make decisions about how to handle the weather. Because of the fluky winds, we hauled in the main, kept the jibs under wrap, and ran the engine for a few hours. Michael shut it off at around 5 a.m. One could actually see the storms approach, hover and then make an eastward exit on the radar screen. At the 4 a.m. shift change, I was so tired, that I was down in the cabin, out of the rain gear, and in my sleeping bag before Michael was even fully dressed to take over. I woke up 3.5 hours later, because Michael very kindly let me sleep long after it was my turn on watch. He has declared that we are definitely not in Tortola anymore, and it has a North Atlantic feel on deck.

Other wildlife includes regular visits from a sole white tropicbird with its magnificent long white tail. I have also spotted a skua several times. Both of these birds travel alone and can go great distances at sea. Night time brings sparkling phosphorescents in our wake.

We have settled into reading, both on and off watch. Besides reading old New Yorkers, I just finished Ken Foster’s, The Dogs Who Found Me, recommended by a fellow dog nut. We work with a rescue group called All Dog Rescue. The book very aptly describes a few of our members, who just seem to find dogs in need, locate owners, or in lieu of owners, help these dogs find better homes. I only wish that my desire to sail could incorporate my love of dogs. Alas, my four legged friends have all learned to hate the boat. Probably the combination of a lack of street garbage, peeing opportunities and loud noises makes home life look sweet to them. I do know of some long term voyagers who have cats, but real live aboard boat dogs are few and far between.

It has been suggested that we rent hotel rooms in Bermuda to get needed rest. I wonder why anyone would rent a room on land when the best possible waterfront accommodations are here on Welcome III.



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