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From the Blog of Family Affair

by Paul Michael, July 11th, 2014



From Paul Michael aboard Family Affair

"Shortly after dawn, we found a flying fish on our foredeck.  It was about 8 inches long, about the same size as the one that hit Tom in the leg during the last race.  We haven't seen them flock and jump yet, but we're looking forward to that in the coming days.

I made a decision to jibe the boat today after 5 days of being on a starboard tack.  That soft spot I spoke of yesterday, the high pressure with little to no wind, is moving south into our path.  Those that don't avoid it will be without much wind until it goes elsewhere.  I've had this maneuver on my mind for the past several days.  It had to be done I believe, but I had a choice of when and where.  If we had done this earlier in the stronger winds and our jib top sail up, our correction course would have been a miserable 155 degrees with hardly any progress made toward the finish.  

Today we are playing some minor squalls and sailing for speed.  With luck, and a touch of skill, we might punch through this soft spot and into the Trades without much loss of time in the lighter air.  This maneuver will cost us about 70 extra miles.  The boats that choose to go through the high pressure will have to be slowed enough for us to cover this distance and hopefully more for it to payoff.  This race is like a game of chess played out in very slow motion.  Results of decisions made won't be known if favorable or not for days.

A couple of days ago, we sailed out of the massive jellyfish armada in the early morning hours.  Our shore support staff provided us some intel on them.  "there are reports of millions upon millions of them churning ashore. They are meeting stiff resistance from sand and sun, saving Oregon from being overrun."  We're happy the mainland is safe.

From our interrogation of our two captured jellies, they are Velella jellyfish. We understand that winds blowing gently against its triangular, clear sail move the jellyfish. The sail is set diagonally to the long axis of the animal. In the north-east Pacific Ocean, their sails are set in a northwest to southeast direction. In the the north-west Pacific, the sails are set in a northeast to southwest direction. In the southern hemisphere, sails are reversed. As long as the winds blow gently, Velella tracks at about 45° away from a following wind. This keeps the animal offshore."  What a wonderful example of natural selection."

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