Today we are living within the realm of Squalls. Squalls in the the Northeast sub-tropical Pacific are a bit different. They are small, concentrated and powerful. The rain lasts about 20 minutes under them if you’re stationary. We’re not.
I love squalls in Honolulu: refreshing, cleansing and replenishing for island precious water.
On Pegasus 50, we move fast at more than half of the squall’s speed. My personal interpretation of North East Pacific Squalls is that they are caused by evaporation with subsequent cooling of the rising air and travel with the tradewinds. During their build-up phase, they mostly “suck” air into them as they are highly active building convective systems. The upper limit comes when the ultra moist air reaches adiabatic balance. Therefore, if you are in front of such a building squall, you loose a lot of wind velocity and get a nasty right shift, but if you have one behind you, she “sucks air” that heads you if you are on starboard jibe with a great boost in velocity. The longer you ride that squall the better. Mark caught a short video of one that he was riding to a max speed of 28 knots of wind and 22 knots of boat speed this afternoon . Check it out, passing right behind Pegasus 50. Mark is steering and filming with his MotionX iPhone 3GS in one hand.
As the the evening cools, squalls get morphed into the opposite. The building convective energy gets pulled from under the squall around midnight, and then all these squalls start collapsing as major angry “puffers”. It takes 12 to 18 hours to build a squall and they colapse in about 4 hours. These are efficient entropic thermodynamic systems, so a lot of concentrated energy dissipates very rapidly. Colapsing squalls will have winds of up to 45 knots in the front of them. That’s serious business. Tonight’s night watch could be interesting, but one thing at a time.
We are in an area of clear now, chewing the miles. Life is good aboard the mighty Pegasus. Dinner time soon!
Windy tonight. On edge and don’t trust the pilot on 20+ and big waves. No horizon. Been steering for 3 hours. Crusty is sound asleep. I can’t believe that he trusts me!
The Sun is back, just to set in a glorious way. Explosive! Now into the dark night.
Pegasus has been chewing up the miles and we are very lucky for that. Our last two days were 305 and 295 nautical miles respectfully. We like our heading with a lot of West and a bit of South in it, averaging about 255 true. Tactically and strategically we’re able to achieve our goals.
However, we never take anything for granted and keep on crunching a lot of weather information. We’ve been consistently reading 1019 on the barometer, which means that we are sailing down the 1019 isobar. We feel very comfortable with that.
At this morning’s schedule, we saw that a lot of boats were heading North. That would mean a rapidly rising barometer and ultimately a “spin into the high.” So we like what we are doing. All the automated routing programs seem to point to a Northerly track. We’re contrarians and disagree. We’ll know soon enough.
We’re settling into that routine where Crusty watches the days and I watch the nights. It’s almost like our day to day schedules! Except that we’re riding the wind fast to Paradise!
Fast Tracks on the Great Pacific Ocean
We are clearly entering the realm of the tradewinds. The natural path to Hawaii and it’s rich seafarer’s culture. The ancient Hawaians were voyaging and navigating thousand of nautical miles in the Pacific ocean while the West was lost in endless gyrations. As we approach the gateway to Polynesia, we must show respect.
2 AM Update:
These clouds puff or suck. They all look the same at night. With this overcast sky, there are clouds that play with our minds. Especially as I stand watch alone at night, one hand on the helm, the rest of my senses fully in listening mode. As we are sailing downwind on starboard the clouds that matter are on our right back quarter. Like yesterday, the clouds are tricky. Not that I can change the outcome much.. Speed or becalmed. I noticed that I can start to feel some cold air from the puffers. That makes sense: they suck colder upper atmospheric air and “puff it out in front of them”. The suckers seem to do the opposite and becalm a large area around them.
All is well aboard the mighty Pegasus. Challenging sailing conditions. That’s what we enjoy.
Sailing at Night
Tactically and strategically, we feel that we are far enough south, sitting on the 1018 isobar, hunting for that elusive 1020 and sticking to it. When we eventually find it, and when the shift is right, we’ll start jybing and surfing our way to Honolulu.
After the full night’s shift I finally got 4 hours of sleep this morning. Crusty is happy sailing the boat at day-time. He’s hopping around and getting real busy with lots of odds and ends jobs. I can hear his “paws” on the cabintop while I am trying to fall asleep.
Today I thought about the video camera on my 3GS and used it on the bow to put up a little ambiance video. I called it “Making Tracks”. It’s short and shows how it feels to sail this boat in moderate winds. She’s fast and wet.
The sky is one hundred percent overcast. No sunrise, sunset, stars or moon. It’s essentially a huge extension of the California coastal fog. For now we see it as sun-protection. We’re happy! Pegasus is making tracks towards the barn.
Making Tracks part 1
Making Tracks part 2