Wind Off, Wind On


Sailing again. After dropping all sails after dinner last evening to save them beating themselves to death in the windless swell, Mia & I re-hoisted the mainsail and set the genoa at 0345 this morning on a light easterly breeze and a calming sea. The stars are out, and the occasional cloud is visible quite clearly, the sky is so well backlit despite no moon. A single ship sailed off to the west as Mia went down below to bed and I poured myself my first cup of coffee for the remainder of her morning watch.

Happy 2019

Crew joined Isbjorn on January 1, after Mia & I celebrated the New Year as a non-event. Neither of us had any intention of staying up til midnight. Instead, we walked all the way down the beach in Lagos to the inlet at the far end, a stroll that took us over 2 hours there and back. It was pitch black on our return, and even before sunset, the beach was deserted. Wintertime is my favorite time to go to the beach. We walked in the hard sand down by the water, reflecting on the year gone and talking.

ISBJORN & DESIREE waiting to depart Lagos.

Both of us were hungry when we got back into town, and the plan was just to wander into town and look for something to eat. Problem was, everyone but us was in a celebratory mood, and most places required a reservation just to get in the door. We hadn’t thought that far ahead, and in any case were in no real mood to celebrate anything. We just wanted to eat, go say hi to Luke & Jessie and go to bed.

We found a little hole-in-the-wall Indian place behind the small square near the market and ate chicken vindaloo and saag paneer with some rice and naan which tasted like it came from the grocery store freezer section. Neither of us really cared, we were hungry. The table behind us was a group of five street buskers who paid their 94 Euro bill entirely with coins.

Afterwards we sauntered over the bridge to DESIREE to toast to the new year with Luke & Jessie, plus Nick and his two kids and girlfriend Annette. I took half a swig of rum from Luke’s Cuban stash and that was that. By 10:30 we were in bed. I vaguely recall waking up to the sound of fireworks at midnight. Mia actually got up and watched through the companionway hatch.

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This Stretch of Ocean

Changing to the big genoa in Lagos ahead of the light-air passage south.

Changing to the big genoa in Lagos ahead of the light-air passage south.

Our progress is slow but steady. A different kind of slow than beating to windward. Even the fastest sailing upwind feels slow thanks to the fact you’re not really going in the right direction. So while we’re moseying downwind at only 4 knots sometimes, at least we’re pointed towards Las Palmas. That makes up for the lack of pace.

Flat seas and smooth sailing offshore.

Flat seas and smooth sailing offshore.

I find it interesting how stretches of ocean seem to have a kind of character about them. The sea-state, despite the lack of wind over these first two days, has been decidedly annoying. Waves from both quarters slewing the boat around. If it’d have been calm, there would have been just enough breeze to sail. But as it were, yesterday afternoon, the waves overpowered the light wind and the sails, rather than pulling, just slatted and banged around. I sympathized with the old square riggers who hated calms more than storms, for it tore their rigging and sails to pieces with each jolting roll.

The sea was just like this en route to Madeira in September. We were in this same stretch of ocean and had the same uncomfortable motion, despite the easy downwind conditions. At least then there was enough wind to sail - we had set the chute on day 2 and carried it all the way to the island, only dropping it once in behind the headland when the wind died in the shadow of the big mountains. This time the sea state remained, but not the wind, so it’s even more discouraging. That said, I have to temper my frustrations - this is certainly better than beating to windward in 20 knots, with the associated slamming, heeling and water flying around...right?