Steve Fossett's Cheyenne, on target to break the world speed record, has hit a dead wind spot with just 300nm to the finish line
In sailing as in life, one minute you are sailing along at good speed, on course with all sails drawing, and then, all of a sudden, tout d’un coup, completely unexpectedly and without warning, the wind drops, the fog rolls in, the sails flap, and you are headed 90 degrees. “What’s up?” you ask, “I have a weather forecasts, ETAs, people to see, plans and hotel reservations. What the hell is going on?” The answer is… you have sailed into a Micro depression.
And that’s where we are right now, readers, slapping through a minor weather phenomena, too small to spot in the synopsis, but big enough to bring us to a dead halt. I believe that these micro depressions probably form on concentrations of plans and ideas of what one will do when one finishes. The rising hot air generated by the discussion of these ideas sucks up cold surface air, disrupting gradient wind flow, creating dense fog, and dampening expectations. They are generally brief in duration, but may interact with larger scale circulation to create progressively later and later arrival times. (for more information, look up “Temporal and Spatial Ambiguities Triggered by the Approaching Finish of Long Distance Sailing Events”, by the same author).
Meanwhile, Neptune is chuckling in his undersea command centre, watching the little green boat on his PC screen and saying: “You didn’t really expect me to let you just reach across the line, did you? Not without at least one more wander through sail inventory?”
We have 356nm to go. At this rate, we will finish in three or four days. Sic subito transit gloria Cheyennis. See you for Easter, and any Lenten pledges to abstain from alcohol will be well fulfilled.
Actually, this band may be only 30 to 50 miles wide, so it will serve more to frustrate the media than to deter us from our objective. We are counting down the final watches. The best food from the reserve store will be broken out tonight, and we may even tap the dregs of the gas bottle for a hot brew tonight.
Time to go and hold the wheel in the fog.