Tonight's play list, David Bowie's classic. The air you breathe weighs something. Every foot column of air sitting on top of you exerts force. Just imagine the super human strength you did not know that you already had, holding up all that air. The thing is, it's weight Is variable. The laws of thermodynamics describe how gasses behave at different temperatures, expanding and rising when hot, contracting and falling when cooled. And air, the thing you breathe, is a gas. Well, actually it's a combination of gasses, mostly nitrogen and oxygen, but no need to go the full geek. You probably have read the words low pressure system, or just "low" amongst the cool weather geeks, a lot in the past 10 days. The fleet has gone through three bad ones, and those of us who took the northerly route got clipped by a fourth. But what is a low pressure system? Lows develop when air mass picks up heat. It could be from almost anything, but since water is a great heat sink, it a often water. The air sits on the water, heat is transferred from the warmer water to the cooler air. The same heat also vaporizes some of that water which then is carried by that warming air mass. When glasses heat, they expand and rise. And when they do so, the downward force of that air as decreases. It gets lighter, the pressure gets less....its a low pressure system. That same rising air carries water vapor upwards until it cools and condenses, first into a cloud then into precipitation. The same rising air mass also creates energy transfer between itself and the air masses around it. And that transfer manifests itself as wind. Finally, waves are created when wind travels across water and pushes that water into waves. So low pressure air masses are typically associated with clouds, precipitation, wind and waves. High pressure systems are the opposite. Cooling air contracts and falls, as a result exerts more pressure, thus a high pressure system. Ir does not carry water vabor so no clouds and is marked by light or no winds. If you don't have wind, you also don't have waves. So if you remember my note from last week, my strategy was all about differentiating myself by taking the shortest route, gambling that there was a lane that would get me through the high. The models that sent every one else really early to get down the eastern side of a high that looked monolithic across the Atlantic seemed uncertain, and suggested that the high would break up and / or recede by the time I got far enough west to interact with it. Thus the gamble, and the willingness to pay a high price in the form of slowly beating into the winds to get down the rhum line. Today is the day that I find out if I was right. I reached the high around 0100 UTC and like magic the skies cleared and the winds dropped. Its everything guy ou would expect from a high, with winds 2 to 5 knots and coming from every direction. Even if you can fill the sails, the very minor swell takes the sails and makes a mockery of your efforts, filling and collapsing them by a simple roll of the boat. It is slow going and a day or two of this would be soul crushing. However...hope. The forecast is that I fight my way west and south and then the high will part in front of me. To the west, it will recede away. And to the south, it heads south east and may actually impact some portion of the lead pack that is out in front of me. Not that I would take satisfaction in that outcome. #notsorry. And for me, north. westerlies fill in and let me carry on. If that happens, 6 or 7 hours of struggle is a small price for the hours saved. So this is it. Optimistic idiot, or lucky guesser. The next few hours shall tell the tale!
Our Recent Posts