Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Good, But Slow Going

May 22
20.0N 83.5W

We're enjoying a good downwind sail, but the boat is moving more slowly than it normally would with these winds.

The course to Isla Mujeres is almost directly downwind (DDW). Intermezzo's optimal wind angle for maximizing velocity made good (VMG) downwind is 150 degrees, so we have to sail about 30 degrees off course. Winds are blowing about 16 to 20 knots and I'd expect to be making at least 6 knots under reefed main and jib in ocean swells with the boat as heavy as it is. Instead, we're only making about 4.7 knots.

The confused seas we sailed into on passage north from Panama are now confused seas behind us, pretty large ones, too. The trouble is that the short period between these 1.5 to 2 meter waves, about 8 seconds results in the trough between waves behind about the same length as Intermezzo. Instead of speeding up a lot as we surf down waves and slowing down some as we climb them as we would in longer period waves, we barely get up any surfing speed before we're climbing again. It's like we get sucked into the trough and can't get out. It doesn't help that swells are also coming from our port quarter which causes causes us to yaw and lose further speed.

I don't want to sound like I'm complaining. This is way better than bouncing, bumping, bashing, which I do know I whine about. And we've covered a good 114 nm in the past 24 hours, which is close to our passage planning rate of 120 nm per day. The motion of the boat is fairly comfortable, too. I just like to go faster when the wind is blowing like this.

Yesterday we sailed parallel to some sort of weather front, a long line of dark clouds with rain falling hard from them in patches along the 20-plus mile length of the front. A skinny tornado emerged from the bottom of one of these clouds, a slender funnel that touched the water surface about seven miles to our port. The surface of the water looked very angry where the tip of the funnel touched down, with what looked like black smoke rising up from the water, which was either spray, condensation, rain or any combination thereof. I would not have liked that little tornado to have touched down on us. It would have been too exciting.

We're sailing under blue, partly cloudy skies and last night was mostly clear, with a nearly full moon shining most of the night. We passed through a couple of small squally spots where it rained really hard for a couple of minutes until we passed through.

There is a lot of ship tanker traffic along the route we're sailing, going to and from Texas, I imagine. Plenty of sea room to keep us apart from them.