004 - May 3rd 09:21 PDT

No wind, huge chop, typical Pac-Baja. Water temp 18.5c, overcast low cloud, air temp 16.2c 50 nm frm land. Current est, 1 knot. Sailed from San Diego til now.

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San Diego to Charleston

Debriefing Report 004

We're alive! Survived the first night. Okay, we can do this. And why have I just woken up on a farm tractor bouncing over plowed gumbo?

Focus, Meg. Let's see... Elena gave up on quick trips into delirium (catnaps) about three in the morning. That's when I crawled in the sack. Surprisingly, things weren't going too badly. At the time, nobody was bleeding, screaming, abusive, or dead. Nothing was burning, hooting, crashing or gone. There was wind in the sails, and only a moderately choppy sea. Sleep was possible!

It turns out that as long as there's wind, the chop is borderline tolerable. Pressure on the sails, banks (leans) the boat along its longitudinal axis, thus, displacing a monstrously heavy pendulum (the keel) to one side of the vertical center of gravity. What you get is a balancing act between wind, trying to tip the boat over, and gravity, keeping it upright. The same physical laws keep an inflatable, bop-bag, punching-toy, springing up for more child inflicted abuse. Remember Weebles? They can wobble, but they don't fall down! Same principle again: weighted on the bottom, like loaded dice. Even in the bath, Weebles didn't fall down. They bobbed along crazily, always upright, unless they cracked, got waterlogged and sank. Although, to be fair to Playskool, cracked Weebles were rare: usually the result of high-diving Weebles missing the tub or hitting the spout.

The point I'm making with this super technical explanation is that a little wind goes a long way toward providing a bit of stability -- along one of three axes anyway. Take that wind away, and what do you have? Answer: flotsam! Albeit expensive and complicated flotsam, but flotsam, nonetheless. A sailboat without wind is just a big Weeble in the tub with an insane toddler. It wobbles big-time, in all three axes, and the occupants get tossed around like light-bulbs in a tumble dryer. Instead of sitting there and taking it, Crewman Elena fired up the diesel and pointed the snout in the right direction. The thrashing eased from bucking-bronco, to farm tractor in high-third slamming across furrows. As for the sound: heck, it is a tractor engine that powers this boat, after all.