Day 16: Windy Has Almost Done it!

Air temp: 73 degrees
Humidity: 76% Barometer: 1018 mb and steady
Speed: 6 knots Course: 270 degrees magnetic
Distance Left to Hilo Hawaii: 660 miles left to go
Point of Sail: Running Downwind with headsail only towards Hawaii Wind speed: Northeast 15-20 knots
Swells: East at 10-12 ft.
Camanoe’s fish count: Flying fish – 20 Squid – 6(The fishies are becoming increasingly smaller, the 2 today were 3/4″ long)

On this voyage I have had three souls aboard. Camanoe, Windy, and myself comprise this motley crew of degenerates. We are all aware of Camanoe and her importance to this trip. Without her, I would not be here. Windy, the Monitor Wind Vane doesn’t have much time in the spotlight. She is both strong and graceful. And like every good women, she doesn’t talk much! I know I’m a sexist pig. My mother is proud.

Windy has been steering the boat since we left Cabo San Lucas. For those of you who don’t sail, it is a well-known fact among sailors on long distance voyages in which the amount of time spent hand steering a boat on a long voyage is reciprocal to the amount of enjoyment derived from the voyage. In other words, the less a person steers the boat the more fun it will be. No one wants to be out in the elements in the cockpit steering the boat. Believe me, hanging on to the boat with one hand while it rolls from rail to rail, and the other hand on the wheel constantly correcting the vessel’s course in the rain and cold wind 24 hours a day is not enjoyable. However, Windy doesn’t mind, it’s almost as if she was built for it. Granted she doesn’t always steer a straight course. Sometimes she will be as much as 10 degrees off in either direction of our course line. But, I can’t blame her. The size of the swells picking up the transom and attempting to broach Camanoe (turn the stern into the seas) are fairly large and frequent. I can certainly hand steer better than Windy, but not for long. She is never tired and doesn’t require any food or electricity. My only complaint is her inability to handle variable wind when sailing downwind with large swells. She doesn’t have any dampening or gain settings for the increase or decrease of wind. Strictly downwind speaking, if the wind is above 15 knots, I replace the larger air paddle with the smaller one. At 15 knots with the large wind paddle she starts to become squirrelly. She really deviates from one side of the course line to the other. Steering the boat back and forth rapidly causes unnecessary rolling of the vessel. The smaller paddle at 15 knots just barely keeps us on course when a large swell overtakes us. The smaller paddle really needs 20+ knots to steer well downwind in a large swell. What Windy needs in these downwind, large swell conditions is a medium sized paddle somewhere between the large and small factory default paddles. All in all, I have grown to appreciate Windy more than I realized was possible. I know my below deck autopilot “Robbie” never would have been able to steer this entire trip without overheating. Not in these swells.

Stephanie and I came up with the name Windy. We thought is was cute; almost a play on words. The best name I have heard for a self-steering vane is Christian’s on s/v Altair. He gave his girl the name of LaFawnda. I suspect he might have seen “Napolian Dynamite.” Christian just finished the same trip I’m making now. If you haven’t seen his blog you should check it out at http://cdlloyd.blogspot.com . He has had a much more eventful trip than I have had so far. Knock on wood. Of course, he made the trip in an Ericson 27, and Lafawnda, was a creation all his own.

-CAPT

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