Pacific sounds of Southern Ocean

Today is a quiet day on board Roxy as we are flirting with another ridge of high pressure that is located around the next ice gate.

When I say a quiet day, I do mean it. Out here we get accustomed to the noise made by an Open 60, but when I was describing it to a friend, it made me realise that it is actually quite loud – most people think it’s a bit of a din!

To give you an idea, over and above the general vibrations of water crashing around at 20 knots past a carbon hull, yesterday Roxy was making several other noises:

– The daggerboard sings in a fairly high-pitched sound, which changes pitch every time Roxy accelerates over 18 knots – it’s almost happy to announce that we’re going really fast! The bobstay (cable under the bowsprit) also vibrates with a low pitch each time Roxy stuffs her nose into the wave.
– The understays of the jockey pole have a separate tone, like strings on a guitar, as they skim through the waves. Occasionally there is a bigger disturbance if the pole itself gets dipped in!
– The propeller sometimes hits resonance too, singing from underneath the chart table.
– The keel occasionally “clacks” if Roxy jumps over a big wave, as the whole system is slightly flexible and the rams move within their bearings. If there is a big gust, I can hear the rumblings of the air bubbles in the rudders as they cavitate whilst trying to keep control.

So all of the above noises are normal and create a really special kind of, rather loud, music that I am now totally in tune with. It is this music that is almost a lullaby as it is a sign from Roxy that everything is normal and she’s happy. Maybe that is why I sleep so well when she’s going fast.

However, the important factor is to be able to pin point and single out any noise or vibration that is not normal. These include; the little ‘pop’ that signifies that I have hit something small and a rudder has popped up; the vibration associated with something being wrapped around the keel; a vibration caused by a piece of deck gear failing; or simply the change in pitch of the normal sounds signifying that Roxy is no longer at 100% and a sail needs to be re-trimmed or changed.

Quite often I will wake up for no particular reason, but know that something is not right. I am so finely tuned into the sounds my little boat makes and I can sense any change immediately. It is better than any alarm clock, as I know I will wake up if I’m needed, and if all is OK then my boat lets me sleep!