Light, sloppy winds could delay Knox-Johnston's arrival in Norfolk 28/3/07

Log date Wednesday 28 March 2007
Miles To Norfolk, USA 494 nm
Distance Travelled In 24 Hours 135.5 nm
Average Speed In 24 Hours 5.65 knots

I am beginning to feel like the Flying Dutchman*, condemned to sail the seas for eternity. The wind turned very indecisive yesterday afternoon and could not make up its mind where it was coming from, or whether it actually existed at all.

We drifted in a vague northerly direction, although we were heading south at one stage when the wind direction sensors became confused, not unsurprisingly. In the six hours from noon we covered 20 miles, and some of that was due to current. The sea was calm, not flat calm; there were small wavelets occasionally. The nasty thing about these calms is the slatting of the sails as they crash from side to side, aided by a large north-easterly swell. Even with the keel moved hard over to try and allow gravity to steady the sails, it was not enough, the slatting continued.

I followed what I thought to be the trends, steering Saga Insurance for periods to try and get up speed, but this just brought the wind forward until it disappeared or we gybed. Then finally it made a decision and we had a very light breeze from the south-east-west which slowly increased until five hours later it was west-north-west 16 knots and we were heading north at 9 knots.

Still, on the bright side, it is warm but not hot. In fact I wore a Saga shirt yesterday for the first time in almost a month. And I made a good pot mess, but when I tried to put on some music the CD player decided to go on strike. I came to the conclusion that the day was best left to itself and I would not be adventurous.

I have had to try and check a rumour that we will arrive on Thursday. Since we had over 500 miles to go at noon on Tuesday, a learner at maths will quickly appreciate that unless I could average about 11 knots, Thursday was not very likely. Since for most of yesterday I was excited if we reached 2 knots, an arrival on Friday is most unlikely as well and Saturday is becoming less probable looking at the weather to come.

Yachts have destinations, not estimated times of arrival. People seem to forget that sailing yachts don’t perform like trains, to a timetable, their progress is wind direction and force dependant and neither are being very helpful at
the moment. RKJ ”

*According to folklore, the Flying Dutchman is a ghost ship that can never go home, but is doomed to sail the seven seas forever.