Weather Helm

Weather, Lee, and Neutral helm describe what one has to do to keep a sailboat going in a straight line. Weather helm means the boat wants to turn into the wind. Lee means it wants to turn away from the wind.Normally one wants a bit of weather helm. If the wind increases suddenly the boat will head up and stall. It is “in irons” or the more current and pathetic term in the “no go zone.” There are two inherent problems which require reducing sail as quickly as possible :1. Once the boat is in irons there is no forward motion. It becomes at the mercy of the unmerciful waves. And it falls back off only to be overpowered and head up again. And again. This is not good.2. When running downwind the impact of the boat heading up is that the apparent wind (the wind the boat sees, the vector sum of the boat speed and direction and the wind speed and direction) actually gets stronger. Not good. Since the easiest way to deal with a strong wind is to run away this adds complexity. Usually the autop

Cockpit time

Sat out in the cockpit for the first time in quite a while. The weather has been terrible. Lots of rain. Even when it is not raining the cockpit has been wet. Or it has been very windy. Tonight it was dry and the wind not too bad. Looking around I realized that even though there are lots of boats here I am the only one in the morning field. There are a couple of guest mooring balls and some choose to anchor out but there is no one here tonight. I have now traveled around Sydney Harbor quite a bit. It is the largest natural harbor in the world. That is part of the problem. It is so big that unless you go well in, even more than I have on land, there is no 360 degree shelter. Everywhere I go there is always some chop. Fair wins and following seas 🙂

After the wind

I pointed out yesterday the the weather forecast greatly underestimated the wind speed. It peaked at about 35 knots. The big concern is of course that the anchor will drag. To a lessor extent there is always the possibility that the ground tackle (anchor, etc.) will break. We dragged a couple of times in Pago Pago with 200 feet of chain and 150 feet of rode. Here I only have about 100 feet of chain out. But the water is only 10 – 20 feet deep depending on the tide. Well, we didn’t drag. Since we are in a river we are subject to the flow of the river in addition to the impact of the wind and tide. The current is from the west. The wind varies between the NE, E, and SE. This creates a constant wind against current impact of the waves in the river. They are, in a few words, short, steep, choppy, and ugly. When the wind is light the trip to the marina is unpleasant, When the wind is up the trip is very wet. Since there is no fetch the waves don’t get high, maybe a foot and one half at the

The afternoon siesta

After what seems to be a month of overcast weather we are now blessed with sunshine. The downside is that it is so hot at midday that it is difficult to get work done (as in we don t feel like working in the hot sun.) Since it is almost spring the days are getting longer so we concentrate our work in early morning and late afternoon.Fair winds and following seas 🙂

Southern Ocean Weather Window

We have been watching for a weather window to depart Pago Pago, American Samoa. There have been a series of gales in the Southern Ocean passing over New Zealand. The are well south of us but do create higher waves and unusual winds as they overwhelm the Eastern trades. Our departure is complicated by the inability to check out on a weekend. We have been targeting a Tuesday departure only to discover that the current forecast is for a big hole (calm) on our route to North Tonga. These things change so we will still work to being ready. I discovered today that there is a typhoon (Nida) in the Philippines. It is expected to reach hurricane force on its way to the China coast. Fortunately it is well North and West of us and heading west. We will still keep an eye on it as these storms can turn around. Fair winds and following seas 🙂

Via Inmarsat:

After 2 days of bad weather including 40 knot winds we have pretty skies and moderate waves. 138 nm to Amer Samoa. Please note your reply is limited to 160 Latin characters or approximately 135 for non-Latin characters. Sent via Inmarsat. The mobile satellite company