Global Voyage

A Story About Sailing Around the World

Ray & Jenny aboard the ketch Suka

3 years, 35,000 miles, Nov 1982 - Jan 1986

Ray & Jenny Jardine

Chapter 1: Voyage to Fatu Hiva page 11 of 109

That evening our Great Teacher unscrolled His first lesson in seamanship. The wind freshened and the seas grew rough.

Including her bowsprit, Suka spans nearly forty eight feet in length. Her main mast stands sixty feet over the water. Empty, she weighs some twenty eight thousand pounds, as much as a dozen compact cars; and we had stowed tons of fuel, fresh water and provisions aboard. Based on such colossal inertia, one might have expected her to behave relatively steadily on her feet. Not so! She bounced around like a cork, pitching sharply bow up and stern down, and vice versa. She rolled with unnerving violence side to side, and heaved sickeningly up and down. And what was more, this awful gyrating was interspersed with sudden and tremendous lateral thrusts, as the larger cascading crests walloped her windward hull in forceful bursts of flung spray. Nauseated, it was all we could do just to hold on.

In the utter blackness of night, an increasing wind suggested that we reef the sails (fold them to make them smaller). Like greenhorns we temporized - hoping that the blow would subside and spare us the intimidating job of leaving the safe confines of the center cockpit. This was a mistake born of inexperience, for we had not yet learned that the task of reefing sails becomes exponentially more difficult the stronger the wind; at least the way we were attempting it.

The brig began laboring, heeling far over to the blow, while anguishing ahead at what seemed a terrifying speed, slashing through each angry wave in tumultuous bursts of hurled spume. The urgency was now upon us.

“A long and sleepless night of adjusting the sheets and steering vane, changing headsails, and of gazing wide-eyed in reverential fear into the impenetrable blackness.”

Flipping on the spreader light, I crawled apprehensively forward and after easing the halyard and muscling the mainsail down to the first luff cringle, I strained to winch home the jiffy-reefing line. This line led through a block at boom's end, then to the sail's clew cringle. But the wind's pressure in the ballooning sail proved irresistible. The line would not budge. I could not drop the mainsail because its battens would snag the spreaders, so we had no choice but to start the engine and to turn Suka into the wind and seas.

When Jenny wheeled the ketch around, the tempest seemed to intensify fifty-fold. As the boat confronted the storm and heavy seas head-on, they created the impression that we were now in the throws of a vicious gale. The sails flogged vehemently, heavy seas broke over the bow and swept aft along the deck, and flung spray soaked us through. In a test of nerves, and after a protracted struggle, we managed to shorten the mainsail and to dowse the jib (to reef the large sail and to take down the forward sail).

Sitting in the cockpit, we turned the boat back around and resumed sailing downwind. And with that, the storm seemed to subside almost entirely. The difference in the ride was astonishing. Appropriately canvassed, Suka settled into her stride.

My lessons in seamanship had adjourned for recess, leaving me with yet another homework assignment: to figure out how to shorten sail while sailing off the wind.

Throughout the dark hours of obscurity the wind shifted direction and altered strength many times. So ours was a long and largely sleepless night of adjusting the sheets and steering vane, changing headsails, and of gazing wide-eyed in reverential fear into the impenetrable blackness.

The story has 109 pages. This is page 11.
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Page Links
GV 001: Title Page
GV 002: TOC
GV 003: Dedication
GV 004: Preface
GV 005: Prologue
GV 006: Beginnings
GV 007: Work Done
GV 008: Making Ready
GV 009: Departure
GV 010: Sailing Credentials
> GV 011: First Lesson
GV 012: Sextant Navigation
GV 013: Safety Harness
GV 014: Murphy's law
GV 015: Spirit of Adventure
GV 016: Holding On
GV 017: First Big Storm
GV 018: Storm Intensified
GV 019: Rolling Violently
GV 020: Mizzen Sleeping Bag'sl
GV 021: Freeing the Propeller
GV 022: Visits by Birds
GV 023: Crossing the Doldrums
GV 024: Nearing First Landfall
GV 025: Land Ho
GV 026: Fatu Hiva
GV 027: Trek Inland
GV 028: Anchor Watch
GV 029: Passage
GV 030: Hiva Oa
GV 031: Skin Diving Circus
GV 032: Almost Like a Jungle
GV 033: Polaris Missile
GV 034: Taiohaie Bay
GV 035: Cascade Hakaui
GV 036: Taipi Bay
GV 037: Cyclone Lisa
GV 038: Cyclone Nano
GV 039: Passage of Patience
GV 040: Tuamotu Archipelago
GV 041: Tahiti
GV 042: Cyclone Reva
GV 043: Secret Sharer
GV 044: Moorea
GV 045: Cyclone Veena
GV 046: Aftermath
GV 047: Good Weather in Papeete
GV 048: Huahine
GV 049: Raiatea
GV 050: BoraBora
GV 051: Rarotonga
GV 052: Tonga
GV 053: Fresh Air
GV 054: Tongan Feast
GV 055: Excursion to Maninita
GV 056: Mariner's Cave
GV 057: Fiji
GV 058: Ndravuni Island
GV 059: Mara Island
GV 060: Aneityum
GV 061: Noumea
GV 062: St Elmo's fire
GV 063: Breakwater Reef
GV 064: Bundaberg
GV 065: Life on the Burnett River
GV 066: Engine Sabotage
GV 067: Flying
GV 068: Aground in Round Hill Creek
GV 069: Gladstone Confinement
GV 070: Tropical Queensland
GV 071: Trip into Townsville
GV 072: Cairns Sojourn
GV 073: Cramped Cooktown
GV 074: Lizard Island
GV 075: The San Michelle
GV 076: Lost Mummy Cave
GV 077: Land's End
GV 078: Darwin
GV 079: Christmas Is
GV 080: Passage
GV 081: Cocos Keeling
GV 082: Crossing the Indian Ocean
GV 083: Rodriguez
GV 084: Mauritius
GV 085: Reunion Cirque de Mafate
GV 086: Reunion Cirque de Salazie
GV 087: Passage to Africa
GV 088: Kruger National Park
GV 089: Richards Bay
GV 090: Durban
GV 091: Port Elizabeth
GV 092: Cape Town
GV 093: Storm Passage
GV 094: St Helena
GV 095: Passage to Brazil
GV 096: Fortaleza
GV 097: Passage to Caribbean
GV 098: Bonaire
GV 099: Passage to Panama
GV 100: Panama
GV 101: Panama Canal
GV 102: Medidor
GV 103: Costa Rica
GV 104: Passage to Acapulco
GV 105: Acapulco to Cabo
GV 106: Baja
GV 107: Home Port
GV 108: In Retrospect
GV 109: Next Time
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