Monday, November 06, 2006

New Haven to Fairfield, CT

25.5 nm
Wind: SW 5-10 knots
Seas: One foot
Maximum speed: 5.4 knots
Maximum speed under sail: 4.9 knots
Average speed: 3.0 knots
Latitude: 41°08.70’N
Longitude: 073°13.21’W

I know I shouldn’t be frustrated right now, but I am. I’m hungry, but I don’t want to eat anything, because I can’t cook what I want to cook, which is stubborn and childish, but true. Our dishes are all still dirty from yesterday, because we’ve run out of water in our holding tank. I tried to wash them by boiling salt water, but the pot of water flew off the stove and all over the cabin sole. I decided that we were too far heeled over to wash or cook, but that since I had water on the floor anyway, I could clean the floor, which is filthy even though I swept and scrubbed it two days ago. But the dirty filthy floor and the dirty filthy rag conspired to make everything even more dirty and filthy, and there was too much crud on the floor for me to sweep into the bilge, and it was too wet for me to actually sweep up the crud, and I don’t know how to keep a boat clean and I’m hungry and cold and frustrated.

We’re actually sailing right now, and that is some part of the frustration. I love it when we’re sailing, and it’s mainly because of my stubbornness that we’re sailing at all. I insisted this morning that we tack out of the harbor under full sail against an incoming current, and we did, beautifully, and ended up outside the harbor, on a lovely southern tack, beating into the wind, with our rail nearly in the water.

It was nice—we sailed almost all the way across the Sound and were able to dump our holding tank, which has been stinking and making both of us think that we’re leaking propane. And we thought we were perfectly aligned to make a neat tack to the west and end up in Bridgeport, a respectable little hop for the day.

Instead, the wind died. Now we’re barely making two knots, and even with only that degree of heel, I still can’t do anything in the cabin or on the stove. It’s so frustrating to me that we can’t actually get anywhere under sail. I know why it is—we don’t have reliable enough light-air sails, and we don’t have a wind vane, which would allow us to be much more efficient sailors at any point of sail. Our autopilot is electric, meaning Karl doesn’t like to run it when we’re under sail, because it could run down our batteries and then we couldn’t start the engine. We’ve only attempted to use it under sail once, the day against the current, and it couldn’t hold its own while we were beating into light wind, which is what we’re doing again today. That means that one of us has to be a slave to the tiller at all times when we’re sailing, making us much less fond of sailing than of motoring, which is not the point at all.

I’m frustrated that we didn’t learn more about sailing before we left, not because we’d be safer, but because we’re so inefficient. I’m frustrated that I didn’t try to repair our 170 genoa and our spinnaker before we left, frustrated that we don’t have blocks for our staysail, frustrated that we didn’t try to build a wind vane. I know that we had many important things to do, but all of these things would make us so much more happy right now.

We can’t seem to be able to tack 90 degrees across the wind, like we’re supposed to be able to. A sailboat is supposed to be able to sail 45 degrees off the wind, meaning if the wind is coming from 270° (west), the boat should be able to go to 315° (northwest), or 225° (southwest). Instead, we seem to be unable to take tacks of less than 110 degrees, meaning that we make little to no progress on days like today, when the wind is blowing from the west and we need to go west. And I have no idea why this is, and no one to ask. Is it because we’re poor helmspeople? Is it because we have bad sails? Is it because we don’t sail close enough to the wind? Is it because of the current? It could be any of these things, and I don’t know which one of them it is. I feel like I spend most of my time on the boat cooking, cleaning, or washing dishes, and have next to none to spend on things like sail handling.

But we have to have some idea what we’re doing to even get better. How can we fix things if we don’t know what’s wrong? What if nothing’s wrong and this is just the way it is? I don’t want to live in an inefficient motorboat. I don’t want to burn fossil fuels, or spend $20 a day on diesel. I don’t want to be unable to use my kitchen whenever we’re sailing. I want to live on a sailboat.

I know it will take years to figure out all these systems. I could dig out the 170 genoa tonight, break out my sail needles, and start cutting up our backup main to patch it. After all, that’s the whole reason we brought those sails and the sewing machine, which I fought so hard for. But my floor’s dirty. I have a whole stack of dirty dishes to clean, and the system that I spend the last week working so hard to develop is now null and void because of a change in circumstance.

Things could be worse, after all. I could have a real job and have to drive a car to work every day. I guess I just want to be perfect at everything all at once, and that’s not going to happen. Of course I knew that. It’ s just frustrating to be reminded of it so thoroughly. Every day we’re learning, still. Today we beat out of a harbor for the first time, and learned it could be done, even in a foul current. Today Karl dumped the holding tank for the first time. Today we ran out of water for the first time. Eventually we’ll work on our sails, work on our self-steering, work on our galley. I’ll figure out how to keep my blasted floor clean. We’ll figure it out. I know this. I’m just an impatient little girl.

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