Now for some of you out there I’m sure there are some nautical terms and things that have been described in our blogs that you have read and thought, what the *&%$ are they talking about. So this post will describe some of the more commonly used terms.
When we talk about wind, we either hate it or love it. We want more of it generally as it means we can sail at a faster pace and get to where we need to go quicker, and try and keep to our sail plan J.
When we talk about wind speed, or our own speed for that matter, we talk in knots. 1 knot of speed is equal to 1 nm (nautical mile) traveled in 1 hour. So, our average speed since leaving Cabo has been 6.6 knots as we have done 330nm in about 50 hrs (330/50 = 6.6).
You may also ask, why is nautical miles used and not just kilometers or miles? Well, there are two answers to that.
One definition given by the “Adlard Coles Nautical logbook” is that “it has always been the basic unit of measurement at sea being defined as the arc of the earth’s circumference subtended by an angle of one minute at the center of the curvature….”???...Yes I scratch my head at this definition as well.
Another way to put it is that for navigating, the ocean is divided into degrees and minutes, and when you look at an ocean chart you will see these numbers running down the side of it. And each degree consists of 60 minutes and 1 minute is equivalent to 1nm. That’s a pretty basic description but I think one that will suffice for now and give you an idea.
Okay, let’s talk about sails. On our va’a and in most other sailing yachts we have a head sail (sail at front of va’a) and 2 masts (main, and a mizzen mast). The main mast is the one in the middle of the canoe and the main driving mast, and the mizzen is the mast at the rear of the canoe and helps us sail closer to the wind.
In yesterday’s blog, Robbie talked about us changing rigs and switching from the traditional rig to the Bermuda rig. On the va’a we have two “rigs” or sail set ups that are used on our masts. The traditional rig and Bermuda rig.
The traditional rig is best described as an upside down triangle shape sail rig with a boom that runs at a 45 degree angle to the mast. It is one that you see most commonly with the va’a’s when they come into port or that you see in those beautiful va’a photos at sea. They are a good performance rig in light winds and around coastal areas due to their increased surface area at the top of the mast. These rigs were also traditionally used by our early ancestors with this particular va’a design (Tipaerua design).
We use the ocean rig or Bermuda rig in open ocean as it allows us to reef the sail in (reduce sail area by collapsing a portion of the lower sail) during high winds and high sea. It is most definitely our safety rig and one we always use for large ocean crossings, such as now.
It is also the classic sail set up you see on most yachts throughout the world. Its boom runs parallel to the deck, at a 90 degree angle to the mast. Most of the surface area is at the bottom of the sail, near the deck.
As I finish writing this entry we have just reefed in our mizzen sail a bit. This will reduce our speed a little, but is also a safety precaution as we don’t want to strain the canoe too much in high winds when you don’t need to. This will also allow Maru-Maru Atua, Haunui, and Uto Ni Yalo to catch up to us as they are some way behind.
Another day closes in on us here and already on this leg of our journey I have seen much. I have seen a pod of dolphins appear as ghostly comets in the dead of night, their bodies whizzing through the night sea bioluminescence cutting long streaks of ghostly green tails in a background of black. I have seen many flying fish, flying in all directions, one even onto our deck last night. I have seen a great sunset melt slowly into the night. I have seen our crew keep good course and morale in some difficult seas. I have seen laughter and learning. Things are well in our world.
Only 1850nm left to go to Galapagos.
Fa soifua, our love to everyone.
Schannel and the Gaualofa crew.