As I mentioned in yesterday’s update, we are in the unusual circumstance of racing towards a typhoon. This is a time when I’d like all the speed I can get, but the boat has been running at only 5.5 to 6.5 knots.
Seabird turned back to port, and discovered their props were caked with crud. At first, I couldn’t decide if our boat had the same problem, or if we were in a current.
I was fairly certain it was our boat, not current. When Seabird turned around I asked if they sped up, and they hadn’t. Also, our engines were running hotter, and burning 15-20% more fuel, than usual.
It was impossible to relax without knowing, and I started looking for a shallow place where I could dive under the boat. The run from Taiwan to Hong Kong is over mostly shallow water. Some is 400 feet deep, but the middle third is under 75 feet deep. If I held out I could drop anchor and clean the prop. However, the seas were too rough for diving, and Steven mentioned that he got slammed diving under Seabird. Roberta was convinced our problem was current, and didn’t want me beneath the boat in rough seas, 100 miles from shore. As the person who needed to do the swimming, I liked her thinking.
Before I had to make a decision, I received an email from another Nordhavn owner (Milt Baker) with the chart above. I had googled to try to find current information for the South China Sea and struck out, but Milt read my blog and hunted it down. In the chart above, the index along the right hand side is the current speed. We were in the worst possible position for current. The good news was that we were working our way southwest and the adverse current would be reducing to 1 or 2 knots soon.
Actually, it turned out even better than this. When we hit the long, nearly 75 mile long stretch of shallow water, the current turned for a bit and was pushing us. We accelerated from 5.5 to 10 knots in minutes! The high speed only lasted a few hours, and then dropped to no current for another eight hours (allowing us to make 9 knots). I noticed that during the time we had no current, or a pushing current, the water temperature dropped significantly, from 88 degrees all the way to 73 degrees. This was very welcome and the entire boat ran much happier on the cool water.
We are now following the South China coast, and have a 1 to 2 knot current against us, which we expect to continue for the rest of our run. We’re making 7.1 knots and estimate arrival about 18 hours from now into Hong Kong.
It is amazing to think that just out our starboard window is China, and we started in Seattle. I’d have never thought it possible! The only disappointing thing is that our friends on Seabird and Grey Pearl aren’t with us. The radio seems dead without them to talk to and share the experience. They’ll be along in a few days, but it would have been nice to finish the season as a team. We miss them!
We should start feeling the effect of the typhoon sometime later tonight, but I’m confident that we are far enough ahead of the storm that any impact will be minimal. And, hopefully, I’m right!
Sans Souci’s present position can always be found by going to http://www.kensblog.com and click on the menu entry for “Current Location.”
Nordhavn 68, Sans Souci
PS Many of you have sent emails and posted comments on my blog. I apologize for not responding. There are only three of us on the boat and it is tough to find time to get on the computer. I’ll answer everyone when we’re safely in port.