Trip Reports

Flying Fish (29-Mar-2001-11-00):
11:00 AM local time Thursday 29th. 16 56 N 122 48 W. Temp. 73, Humidity 70%, cloud cover 100%. Seas NE 3 meters. Wind NE 10k.

The crew of Maverick sends its warmest regards and wishes to apologize for the recent lack of correspondence, occasioned by the Captain's ill humor, which had improved somewhat this morning resulting in reduced floggings. This absence of goodwill was prompted for the most part by the conditions here at sea, which have been trying his patience. Before we expand on that we'd like to announce that we have three winners in the grammar sweepstakes. Two of these, Theresa Fisher and Jim Mead, are federal employees, which should give us all a comforting thought about the people in charge of our nuclear weapons. The third, Elizabeth Spinner, is a bit overqualified in that she teaches English composition at the college level, whereas the grammatical error was jr. high all the way. And no, airfare is not included in the prize. Now, let's review where we stand.

When last heard from, things were going quite well. Weather was improving and the Captain was enthusiastic about the chess game being played with the Pacific High, which was turning in the boys' favor. Although we all know this was 98% luck, let him have his little conceit that his strategy paid off.

It was key to traverse the high without using precious fuel, which must be preserved for the crossing of the Doldrums, so it was of some concern when the weather fax showed the high to the southeast of us and moving west. If it parked below us it might mean days of no wind, but the weatherfax had it moving further west. So we moved to the southeast in anticipation of the high's progress, believing the position the fax placed it in in 24 hours. And indeed as predicted the high moved southwest of us the following day, and thus we were able to sail dead down wind and proceed south. On Thursday 22nd we set the Genoa and drifter on poles and sailed 180 true. Sunday the 25th the wind freshened as the high moved further west and we elected to hand the drifter and made good progress under the genny alone. Our spirits were high as we were going fast and it would be only a short while before we would find the northeast trades which would bring, we had reason to believe, good weather, long gentle swells, and a steady breeze. We were shortly to be disappointed.

On Monday the wind veered to northeast and we dropped the pole, hoisted the main, and headed up to remain on our course of 180 true or so. Here were the tradewinds we had anticipated. The wind freshened to about thirty knots and the seas became lumpy, with the main waves about 6 ft every four seconds. Maverick was racing through this slop and beating the crew silly so we had to shorten sail, first one, then two reefs in the main, rolling up the furler one, and then two marks, and finally dousing the headsail altogether to get the boat speed down to 5 knots. Even at this, the motion on board was so violent that the crew got almost no sleep that night.

The sloppy seas were, reasoned the Captain, caused by the collision of the seas from the high, which were north, the seas from the trades, which were northeast, and the swell remaining from the storms in the gulf of Alaska, which were northwest. This produced a mess which was uncomfortable and made ugly by the fact that, rather than clearing, the skies had turned to monotonous altostratus from horizon to horizon, and the mercilessly leaden aspect of the heavens made the seas that much less friendly and slate gray. To add to the unpleasantness, the temperature had actually dropped now that we were nearer the equator, so the crew were back in their fuzzies at midday; and our friends the Dolphins had ominously ceased their visits.

We have made reasonable progress, but it is now Thursday and although the wind has decreased to 10-12 knots and the seas flattened a little the situation is otherwise little changed. Now it should be pointed out that nothing about the present situation is the least dangerous. In fact, conditions are merely less pleasant than we would have liked, and could of course be much worse. But unfortunately it seems they may become somewhat so, as the wind is predicted to lighten so we may have a long time to wallow in the bleak patch of ocean we have come upon. Fresh food has finally run out, having outlasted by several days our most optimistic projections; but it's canned goods from here on. Galley specialist 1st class Terry Shrode has announced that tonight we have a very nice "Sweet Polynesian Pineapple Princess Prepared Ham Parts Saute with Corn and Water Chestnuts Soured by the Crew, Served Over Boiled Domestic Brown Rice."

We saw our first flying fish today, so we're going to take that as a good omen, there being a scarcity of other candidates. Keep those cards and letters, email style, coming; and remember the best way to contact us is to email so that the messages can be consolidated and so minimize our air time.

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