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Story by Tor Pinney                                                                                                                                        Back to List of Tor's Tales


2013 Tor Pinney - All Rights Reserved


Today, as we approached St. Vincent under full sail and an overcast sky, the good ketch Silverheels kissed 9.7 knots for the first time ever. Here's how it happened.

The trade winds tend to bend around high islands and pick up speed. This time they backed and jumped from 15 knots to 25+, putting us on a sudden, screaming beam reach. Silverheels bolted, from 7 knots to 8 to 9... Then the GPS readout shot to 9.7 knots SOG. WOW! She never once dipped her rail; just hunkered down and SMOKED, exceeding 9 knots for long bursts, slowing to 8.7, 8.5, then blasting off again. I read 9.5 several times, 9.7 twice, and I thought I glimpsed 9.8 once but can't swear to it. This from a 35 year old, 42' ketch packed with a full year's provisions, her dinghy in davits, fuel & water tanks (plus 9 jerry jugs) topped off, dragging a fixed 3-blade prop and 2 fishing lines. OMG, can I get an AMEN? 


click to enlarge

The good ketch, Silverheels, under full sail.

And then, abruptly, the wind vanished in the lee; dead calm, sails limp. Silverheels sprang upright, as stunned as I, and (this is true) just then the sun broke through for the first time all day. (Fade in symphonic crescendo with angelic choir.)  Thank you, Mother Ocean. ☺


Footnote: SOG (speed over the ground) is, of course, not necessarily STW (speed through the water). Theoretically, a 42' displacement hull cannot go 9+ knots through the water. There had to be a current helping. Nonetheless, for one thrilling moment every fiber of the boat and the skipper were thrumming; intensely, immensely alive. I'm still savoring it. (OK, and gloating a bit, too.)


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