1,500 NM Wing-on-Wing

Date:June 18, 2016, 4 a.m.
Position:12 27.00 S, 145 45.00 E

Well, it looks like this is going down in Privateer’s record book as her longest tack, and the longest duration spent wing-on-wing. 1,500 nautical miles! We surfed every wave across the whole Coral Sea. Last night Kelsey took it to 13.3 knots. We are now on the home stretch to the Great Barrier Reef, with timing lining up perfectly for a mid-morning arrival so we can spy the entrance through the reef in daylight. The winds have mellowed down to 20 knots, with partly cloudy skies and an almost-full moon. Textbook.

Our long surf did come at a cost, however. Last night was a rough one for me. Constant squalls in gale-force winds and ceaseless course adjustments and sail changes kept me awake until I was borderline hallucinating. I took to swearing at the F—ing Coral Sea–isn’t it enough wind and squalls already?? Kelsey, as always, stepped right into the thick of it and helmed the boat from midnight all the way through 6am. I thought something was wrong with the clock when I woke up, refreshed. Kelsey always pulls through in the wild times. We do what needs to be done as a team, watching out for the other. As our friend Dan from South Africa says, “There’s no off-button at sea. When it’s on, it’s on.”

Wing-on-wing is described as a difficult point of sail to maintain, requiring great concentration. This is true, but the Monitor really takes the concentration aspect away and allows you to relax. You do need to be very careful as you set the vane gear, to take care not to back-wind the boom into an accidental jibe. But once it’s set, it’s magic. I’ll never forget the first time I set the gear wing-on-wing, I didn’t trust it. But after an hour of keeping the boat pegged at the exact desired wind angle, and realizing it did a much better job than I, (no human error) I came around. With 25 knots of wind behind her and her wings stretched out, Privateer the magic carpet ride takes off over the waves and surfs the troughs. We’ve had solid 25-30 knot conditions for the entire crossing with a few 35s and 40s–a bit boisterous, but a great ride. No complaints here–glad we weren’t going the other way!

Taz is really starting to understand a lot of the world and communicate more deeply with us now. The little sponge has been taking it all in and pointing out things that we didn’t remember introducing to him. He’s also getting “a bit cheeky” as they say in NZ, testing our reactions to things he knows he shouldn’t be doing. Mommy the tickle-monster comes to get him, though, and his little stand-offs usually end in gut-busting laughter. He seems, oddly, to get around the pitching cabin better than Mom and Dad. He really does have great balance, and a natural grace to his movements. He takes it all in stride–just another normal day on the high seas.

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