Solo Watch

Early this spring, during a blustery March day sailing down the California coast, I was mostly sitting in the enclosed chart house rather than staying outside on deck. Why? looks like a lovely day to be outside doesn’t it? Not so. It was cold, very cold. This trip, we kept the diesel Newport bulkhead heater running the entire time; although the off-watch person was typically sleeping right next to the heater, the on-watch person was better off inside where they could also assure the stove was running smoothly.

The night before we had seen incredibly rough seas with a mixed swell of both W and NW waves. Because of the seas the previous evening and night, after leaving our comfy port of Pillar Point Harbor, before turning south (SSE) and sailing downwind towards our destination, we’d motor sailed directly westward for twelve hours. This was a reasonable heading with Mahdee facing the W winds and waves while taking hits, from the contrary and large NW waves, forward of the beam rather than on the aft quarter. We had sailed a few hours SSW and then SW getting pummeled by the West waves before giving in, turning the motor back on, and sailing that westerly course.

The westward heading was also the quickest way to obtain sufficient sea room in the last remnants of a gale.  We motored our westward course because we could not have pointed that high (due West) under sail alone.  Mahdee would have been sailing WNW, away from our destination, at best to obtain the sea room under sail alone.  The luxury of motor sailing, ah, it is nice sometimes.  Once we had our sea room, we turned off the engine again, faced SSE and enjoyed the downwind ride.  We still had only two sails up: the gaff foresail and the jib, now wing-on-wing, and by the lee with preventer set. Our speed was between 7 and 9 knots which was very comfortable. Putting up the mainsail, even reefed, would have taken us over 11 knots and likely would have been very squirrel-ly.  The sails were well balanced such that neither the autopilot nor I had to move the wheel to hold our course even though the seas were large and a bit confused.  The Force 6 to 7 winds were steady with occasional gusts. I took 5 continuous minutes of footage but cropped the jittery parts for this video.

Solo Watch from StartupAnywhere on Vimeo.

When I’m bored, I sometimes shoot a lot of…boring…video to stay awake and engaged.  In this case, the water and waves were just beautiful and even though I was bored the water scene was not boring!  The date/time stamp is 2:16 pm 3/24/2013.  So, I was halfway through my four hour watch.  We were doing 4 hour watches on this particular trip.  Midnight-4am, 4am-8am, 8am-Noon, Noon-4pm, 4pm-8pm, 8pm-Midnight.  Four hours on, and four hours off, goes on indefinitely.  We find that this gives us time for chit-chat at the beginning or end of  a watch period while still allowing a good 3 hours or more of sleeping. One of the funny things I recall about shooting this video is how incredibly rolly–pitch–yaw–up-down-side-to-side–the boat was and how difficult to keep the camera steady. Funny how that sort of thing doesn’t show up in the video.

I’m going through a lot of my videos from our sailing this year.  We’ve not had the Internet bandwidth available to upload anything until very recently.  So hopefully I’ll upload a few more videos over the next few days or weeks.


2 Thoughts.

  1. Pingback: Repair to the bowsprit - Sailing Mahdee

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