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March 14, 2007

Counter Current Slackens

The counter current that had held us in its vice-like grip for almost three days finally weakened, On the surface we looked like we were moving forward: the wind was strong and pushing us from behind. However the GPS told a very different story. We were actually going backwards!

With the wind from behind and pedaling it always looks like we are moving forward. Yet depending on the current the outcome can be quite different. Perhaps this was the lesson from the sea for this voyage: the action is the same but the outcome is entirely different. Maybe the lesson that it was trying to impart was to focus on the task at hand rather than worrying about results. The final outcome, whatever it may be, should not be the focus.


The last couple of days we've made excellent progress. With a force 3-4 wind from behind we registered 2 x 65 mile days. The waves were very big at times, almost 20 feet. Negotiating these monsters requires intense concentration. Steering Moksha with both hands on the rudder while keeping an eye on the compass needle can be exhausting, especially at night when the odd extra big 'rogue' wave will almost tip the boat over and at the very least crash over and into the cockpit, drenching everthing inside. This scenario is very possible during a momentary lapse in concentration on the part of the pedaler and can lead to a 'broach', which is when the boat is pushed by a wave faster than the rudder can be used to control the heading, and the boat slews either to the left or right and in the worst case is capsized.


The really big waves produce a hissing sound on their final approach. There is a split second to react with the rudder before the boat is flung down the face of the wave at lightening speed. This reminds me of traveling down the face of a playground slide when I was a child. It is a delicate balancing act riding down the face of one of these things, and requires steering the rudder while at the same time keeping the compass needle on its mark. The last couple of nights have been intense with the wind howling and the waves crashing all around. The reward of all this has been the 60+ mile days. Moksha has handled these seas beautifully. She doesn't fight the waves, rather lets the waves slide underneath, as if to let them pass unchallenged to wrent their fury on another unsuspecting victim.


Posted on March 14, 2007 11:17 AM