17 May 2017 | Santa Cruz, Galapagos
08 May 2017 | San Cristobal, Galapagos
06 May 2017 | Panama Canal
Pacific Puddle Jump - Day 11
29 May 2017 | Pacific
It seems that we have found ourselves in the Doldrums. There has been very little breeze. the swell has flattened out and we have been inching our way forward yet away from our rhumb line as we've endeavoured to keep wind in our sails. It's been slow travelling. The upside is that the benign conditions have made it all that much easier to tick off a few domestic tasks plus take the time to be inventive in the galley and prepare a few ready meals from our diminishing supply of fresh produce. Have even managed to whip up a tiramisu for the Captain's imminent birthday celebrations!
Our afternoon was spent catching up on sleep plus researching locations and anchorages in French Polynesia, all while chasing the wind. A large pod of dolphins, including our new friend "Skeg", showed up around 1400 to entertain us for around 15 minutes as they zoomed around our bow. Night came and still very little breeze despite an updated Grib promising 13-16 ESE. With the wind completely exhausted at 2230, Paul decided to furl in and engage the iron sail for the rest of the night - a good opportunity to ease our way along under power and to top up our battery banks. Without having to concentrate so intensely on wind direction, as we have needed to whilst under sail, it was a very relaxed couple of night watches.
It's now well after sunrise and we are still becalmed and under motor. We've decided to adjust our course slightly and head more southerly in the hope of finding some freshening breezes. We've had a delicious birthday breakfast for Paul; he's opened his gift (yes, the Birthday Fairy makes boat deliveries!) and we're steaming ahead on a course of 205 degrees. As at 0800 we covered 111 NM over the last 24 hours. Slowest.Day.Sailing.Ever.
All well onboard.
Pacific Puddle Jump - Day 10
28 May 2017 | Pacific
What a day of contrasting weather! We've gone from ripping along at 8+ knots to barely moving at all as the forecast 16-20 south easterly petered out to a whisper. We've surfed 4M swells at 10 knots SOG in what we guesstimated were 25+ winds. We've listened to the energy starved sails shudder and slap in the darkness of night, the sound being akin to them gasping for breath. We've been tossed around both inside and out in the cockpit and have been comparing our collection of Elevation "love taps". How is it that the gods can pick the exact moment when you have both your hands and your mind occupied to deliver a massive bitch slap to the hull and send you careering across the cabin or deck? It seems to be when you're effecting a sail adjustment; in the galley cooking or cleaning; just after you've showered and you're towelling off; or when you're standing, hanging on to the bunk trying to put your clean undies on onehanded!
Yet despite all that, we actually covered 157NM in the 24 hours to 0800 on Sunday 28/5; over 2/3 of them in the first 15 hours. We have now crossed the magical half way point and every mile from here on is a step closer to landfall. The flying fish head count continues to rise, and each morning Paul consigns the next set of unfortunate casualties to the deep. We've seen no shipping other than a giant Chinese squid boat, the loom of it's many spotlights being visible even beyond the horizon in the moonless night.
All well onboard
Pacific Puddle Jump - Day 9
27 May 2017 | Pacific
We seem to have acquired a travelling companion - a lone dolphin with a distinctive curved fin who appears alongside a couple of times a day to swim with us. Perhaps he/she is our Pacific guardian; perhaps just cruising by occasionally for a little fellowship as he/she heads into the South Seas. Whatever the reason, it's balm to our souls to see our new aquatic friend and gives us a little more conversation!
Our passage over the last day has been productive. Average speed is 6.3 knots and we have been conservative, reigning our girl in as necessary to ensure a safe and comfortable ride. The sea state has settled slightly and Elevation has found her downwind groove. As we move westwards, the optimum propagation times for sending and receiving data has shifted from after 0800 to between 1700 and 1900 so I've decided to adjust the time I complete these blog posts. I'll be doing them pre dinner which means they'll be showing sometime after 0700 the next morning at home. As at 0800 on this sunny Saturday morning, we've covered 1354NM in total on this passage. Assuming that conditions remain unchanged over the next 24 hours, we will hit that magical half way point by around the time we will be having Sunday breakfast!
All well onboard.
Pacific Puddle Jump - Day 8
26 May 2017 | Pacific
It's just gone 0800; the casualties from last nights sustained attacks by squadrons of kamikazi flying fish have been swept from our decks and we're sailing wing on wing again. Somehow, the forecast SE winds have swung ESE and after an uncomfortable night of what felt like sailing a bouncy castle, we decided to adjust our sail plan. Poling out is an activity best performed in daylight and after around 45 minutes of re-jigging before breakfast and a 20+ degree course change we are now gently swaying our way westwards, with the occasional rear quarter "bitch slap" just to keep us on our toes. We've covered 157NM in the last 24 hours and we are pretty pleased with our efforts to manage the conditions without wind instrumentation.
The constellation of Gemini blazed brightly in the moonless overnight sky reminding me of the many birthdays falling in the next few days. So, here's a Big Happy Birthday Shout Out to our "Twins" - to my cousin Chris; my good friend and former colleague Rob; to those two Freo ratbags Bards and Pete; to the lovely Jo; and to everyone's favourite Rotto drinks pourer Graham. Hope you all enjoy the very best of everything on your special day!
All well onboard.
Pacific Puddle Jump - Day 7
25 May 2017 | Pacific
Yay - we passed the 1000NM point at 0032 this morning and are now just a little more than 1/3 of the way to Nuka Hiva. By 0800 this morning, we should clock up 170NM for the 24 hour period which is our best day yet on this passage. The weather continues to improve and the swell is now a gentle 2M roll.
It is cruiser lore that there is little shipping in the Pacific. We actually met a British couple in Darwin several years ago who, whilst sailing in a now defunct around the world rally, took that information quite literally. Every night, they would head off to bed leaving the auto pilot to guide them through to the morning - that they survived is truly testament to the concept that the gods are kind. Whiltst we have seen only minimal traffic since leaving Panama, we are still vigorously maintaining our standard watches, and here's the reason why ..... It's pre dawn and we are completing our 0400 watch change. In the distance we spy a large, well lit up vessel heading towards us at speed. It is not transmitting AIS data (why ??). We see at it gets closer it's a 200M "Super Trawler" - the type that deploys those massive Persane nets and similar to the fishing vessel denied a license to operate in Australian waters. We feel the "thump, thump, thump" of it's two 10000HP motors as it steams even closer. Do we trust that there is actually someone on the bridge? Do we assume that we've been seen and that evasive action will be taken by the commercial skipper of this maritime giant? Safety at sea is one of our priorities so we do NOT - Paul hails the unidentified vessel on Ch16. A few moments go by, then we receive the response in broken English "I am heading on course 170 degrees". Paul explains that we are sailing wing on wing and have very little manoeuvrability and requests the fishing vessel tacks off to starboard. We wait, Paul makes an under his breath comment about the guy obviously needing the whole F'ing ocean and as the trawler comes within 400M of us, he makes the course change - Phew!
All well onboard.
Pacific Puddle Jump - Day 6
24 May 2017 | Pacific
The last 24 hours have been reasonably comfortable, with the swell subsiding to around 2M - enough for Paul to throw out a lure and snag a good sized Mahi-Mahi ... it's fish for us for the next few days! We maintained our wing on wing sail plan and as at 0800 this morning, we had ticked off a further 145NM for this passage.
We feel confident that we've now skirted the ITCZ. The wind has shifted to a more definite SE trade pattern and the Grib file this morning showed a constant 15-20 knots over the next 24 hours. Accordingly, we have cracked off more WSW, changed our sails back to standard main and headsail arrangement and are doing a steady 6-7 knots. There's a rolling swell of around 2.5M off our port side and we're coasting along nicely.
Good to hear the Dockers had another win on the weekend! All well onboard.
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