04/11/2009, 06 45.25'S:134 08.62'W, 340 Miles to Hiva Hoa
We received the following email from good friends Devin and Donna in response to a recent blog.
---------- Original Message ---------- From: (ddhammer) Subject: Date: 4/10/2009 11:37:13p
You guys need to seriously get a grip...you are sailing across the freaking Pacific Ocean, on the trip of a lifetime that .00000001% of people who have ever lived on the planet have ever had the opportunity to do, and all you can do is ask -- is it over yet? Seriously? You'll forgive me if I just can't conjure up any sympathy for you. I hope you get to sail some so you have something to do. Looking forward to more pictures too. Donna
Donna, oh Donna, how right you are. Thanks for slapping us back to our senses! It only takes a trip to the bow of the boat, where it is relatively quiet, and take in scenes like the one above, to make us truly appreciate where we are. And the picture, no matter how high resolution, does not do the actual experience justice. It does not take much to be humbled by our surroundings. our lives hanging by simple threads of a sound boat, drinkable water and reasonable weather. We are very much on our own, and I'll tell you, the ocean is BIG out here. Our perspective has also morphed in the past days knowing that this passage will end in 3 days time. Soon we will see new signs of life as we approach the islands. I expect we will both relish our last days of this passage, even as we become more excited with anticipation of making landfall. In some respects, it's mentally like painting a room. You start out all excited, highly motivated and focused for the first half of the project. Then the reality of how long it will take to paint the room kicks in, and it kinda sucks. Then excitement builds again as you can't wait to see the finished product. At least that's what goes on in *my* head.. Also, I know we must be getting close. I'm polishing stainless again! -allan
Oh yea, the end is near..the anticipation of island arrivals.just can't wait. Donna you're right, we were excited in the beginning, then it hits you ..just how far it is! And, yes Allan, there's only soooo much stainless on the boat.ha ha. I'm sure that I'll reflect on this adventure once I'm land bound again, it has really been a great time and working together as a crew and a family. Well, back to a swim & shower in salt water ;-) -Rina
You know what Donna? We are so spoiled! BUT there are other aspects to consider. Let me tell you I had a hard time explaining to my friends that traveling isn't a endless holiday, but hard work as well. Same here you know, How about Allan saying here is the plan!!! How about being the only Dutchman around for miles Woe that culture gap is deep. The freaking ice cube discussions. (allan - Don't get me started Jan! LOL) But then I think about the sailors on the tall ships who didn't have a clue where they were going. Who didn't have an engine and hear me complaining about this noise maker, but luckily we are running out of diesel. So with some luck we will be drifting out here for another week. Even more challenges to get over. -Jan
What can I say? I'm a social person! Lol. I've loved every minute out here as well; it is quite a different lifestyle being able to read all day. I highly suggest the novel Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. I'm a little more than half way through it and I can't put it down! It "weaves together three stories of human love.celebrating the prodigal spirit of human nature, and of nature itself." I love the writing and how it explains every detail of the mountains and farms of southern Appalachia as well as debates the ongoing issue of man vs. nature. Call me a hippie, but I'd rather the coyotes kill a sheep once a year than kill off all the coyotes. Then again, I'm not a rancher. I'm very happy to be a part of the "two-percenter" population as dad calls it, when only two percent of the population buys a boat or crosses an ocean. So, I'm very lucky to lather, rinse and repeat again today ;-}. Love always. -Alyssa
04/10/2009, 05 34.31'S:132 25.91'W, 459 Miles to Hiva Hoa
Since the wind died early yesterday we have had a steady diet of diesel. The drone is never far away. During a squall last night Jan brought out the sails for 10-15 minutes, only to have the wind die quickly after they had dissipated. The same happened today with me. Our sailing hopes and dreams, dashed! All around us there were squalls; bringing us 10-15 knots for a short period, only to have them die again. The thing that brings the most grief is that we can't seem to get a squall to dump any meaningful rain on us. To our windward, puffy little clouds, to our Leeward, rain and squalls..and when we do get a little rain, it quickly dissipates, leaving hot and shitty weather in its wake. (hot/shitty>90% humidity, 96F, No apparent wind) Quick, name that movie reference.
We are currently 459 miles from Hiva Oa, and as we get closer, I am getting the sailors version of "are we there yet?" They ask, "so, how many more waypoints? At our current speed and current, what's our estimate time of arrival? Very much to be expected. Given our water shortage and our complete lack of rain catching acumen, we will motor through the next 24 hours until the winds pick up again. Then hopefully it's a sleigh ride into paradise!
Oh yea, we gotta get there soon as the creative blog ideas are getting far and few between, as I'm sure you have noticed. And you chronic blog watchers? Get ready, because when we get to Hiva Oa, we're gonna have a life again, which means blog entries every 3-4 days. -allan
Rina said it rightly this morning everybody is getting a bit edgy. Making everybody aware of it helps. Today we are three full weeks out on the water. As I wrote in my diary: We saw one fishing boat, a few dolphins and endless bleu skies and oceans. Most irritating fact for me is as I mentioned before no wind. I don't think we sailed once for 24 hours. It also makes me laugh inside because I noticed grumpy Jan is peeping around the corner and I haven't been grumpy for a long time. I am reading in my book about the journey of souls, which is quite something in this environment a bit creepy if you think it through during the night. I am also finishing my Mexican novel. No more depressing Newsweek or Time magazines. Here in our own little world, the worrying world is far away. It is even hard to think what to expect at the islands. Priorities: Lots of cold drinking water, shower and laundry. Well friends and family we are hanging into it. How will we look back at our trip in five years time? -Jan
04/09/2009, 04 04.40'S:130 25.60'W, 618 Miles to Hiva Hoa
Each day is now falling into one of 3 patterns for the crew, depending on which evening watch schedule we land. The morning watch typically washes the dishes. Whoever had the late night watch sleeps a bit longer, then gets up and tidies up the salon and heads. We stop the boat for some hull cleaning, swimming and showers, then either sail or motor for the rest of the day while we read, nap or do other tasks. The rhythm has clearly been established.
We were pleasantly surprised by consistent winds in the 8-12 knot range late yesterday and well into this morning. Unfortunately they died around 2am and we have been motoring in dead calm seas with 1.2 knots of winds since. While rain squalls were forecast today after 1600, they have been few and far in between, and we have made a bee-line between them all. I ridiculously tried to chase one a week or so ago, but there is no hope. If they hit us, they hit us.
Anticipation continues to build for our arrival, and we now have 618 miles to go. We expect more weather in the coming days, so our pace should pick up and help shake up the routine.. -allan
Swimming to rinse your shampoo seems to be the theme out here.since we have no fresh water for washing either dishes, laundry, or ourselves, it's become a morning ritual. Everyday on the morning watch, the watchman washes dishes, the second up for the next watch dries and puts them away. Then its shower time, if the boat's stopped, we swim and wash, if it's underway, we soap up and rinse with a canvas bucket tied to the back of the boat.this works surprisingly well! We are clean and refreshed. The salt water doesn't seem to make that much difference except for the laundry.It's a little stiff after it dries. Looking forward to a "bath" on the islands, and drinking out of "glass" again would be nice. Dreaming of the comforts of home, but enjoying this adventure, every minute of it! It's been a long way, but I'm sure it'll be worth it at the arrival of our first island. Hugs & Kisses to all! Hey, someone give my dog Rylie a hug too! Megan, can't wait for June, it seem soooo fa r away, but it'll be sooner than you think! -Rina
I probably get the most sleep out of anyone around here. My excuse is that it keeps me cool. I'm counting down the days (only 6 more now) till we get to Hiva Oa. A freshwater shower is in place. I finished Don Juan; it was a little too sad for me at the end. Now I'm moving on to Prodigal Summer. Jan got it from a friend and has yet to read it. More importantly, I'm a little over halfway through the Sailing Fundamentals USCG's handbook for cruisers so I can FINALLY be of some sort of use on the boat! Sleeping is so nice though! Lol. We're still waiting for more squalls too (*wink Megan! And I am still your sister, so email me asap I miss you!!!). After reading other sailboats' reports, it seems that the first boat was ahead of the squalls, the second was in them, and we're after them, so we're not getting much luck (at least from our perspective.) Most boats are envious that our passage has been so dry and sunny. But, in our circumstance with a shortage of water, we've become what they call on TV "the Storm Chasers!", a show I find very boring. It's much more fun when it's not on tv. Every time we see a squall in front of us, we turn into it too ya know! Doesn't seem like we're going to get anything tonight but there's promise in another 24 hours. Mmmm quiche. I gtg! Love always. -Alyssa
04/08/2009, 02 25.52'S:128 36.79'W, 858 Miles to Hiva Hoa
As we enter our last week of our passage, we find ourselves having to manage our resources carefully, making conscious decisions about how we use them. Unlike the group of boats that arrived in Hiva Oa this last week, we have had a dry passage with little rain. Going forward, we have decided to ration ourselves to 1 liter a day of water, plus sparkling water, juice, beer, sodas, until we capture more rain... Forecast shows a full day of rain showers in 48 hours.. We'll see.
Our conversations about what to make for lunch and dinner have become lengthy, only because we have to get more creative. Without the use of fresh fruits or veggies, and in a manner that does not require lots of water. Our remaining fresh foods are apples, lemons, limes, carrots, onions and potatoes, all of which should last us the rest of the journey. We will limit pastas, (sorry Alyssa) due to the extra water required, to 2 meals, and then use the left over water for a chicken soup base or something similar.
Our fuel situation remains healthy, but given the lighter than expected winds and the lack of water, certain members of the crew would prefer to get to Hiva Oa faster. Prudence calls for keeping a fuel reserve, so we are monitoring usage closely.
Current fuel stats, as of this morning: 54% - Prior 48 pct miles under power 20 - Prior 48 hours gallons of fuel used 220 - prior 48 hours miles covered 0.46 - gallons per hour of motoring 75 - Gallons of fuel available for motoring 10 - Gallons of reserve fuel 117 - Motoring range - Hours 4.8 - Motoring range - Days 585 - Motoring range - Miles 800 - Miles to Hiva Oa 73% - Pct of remaining miles we *could* motor 15 - Hours of reserve fuel
Based on the last 48 hours, we are motoring 54% of the time, but given available fuel, we could motor 73% of the time. We will continue sail when possible, but also need to balance fuel use with remaining days on the water, given our water situation. Each morning, we take measurements of both and discuss strategy for the day. There is potential upside on both fronts in 48 hours, when we are expected to see winds 12-16 knots and persistent rain.
Power has not been the problem it was while we were in Mexico due to the solar panels. They continue to keep us at 100% capacity all day long and easily recharge the overnight usage by noon.
The psychology of the situation has been interesting, in that we all bring different perceptions of risk to the water situation. I tend to be "tragically optimistic" about our options and expect that we will work our way through the situation with minimal discomfort. As the skipper of the boat, it's my job to assess the risks, but to think in terms of possibilities, and not dwell too much on the negatives. Others take longer to adapt and in some instances, let the worst case scenarios dance in their minds for quite some time. Overall, the crew has adapted well to our challenges of light winds and little water, and even commented that our morning saltwater dishwashing routine on the stern of the boat is much preferred over standing in the hot pitching galley doing the same.
There may be a lesson for us there.
And just to make sure we remain safe, we have anointed Wilson, of "Cast Away" fame, our new Neptune, who will surely keep us safe. -allan
What do you do all day? I really wonder how easily one days slips into another although a bit more wind would be very welcome to this sailor. But you seem to forget everything when you are sitting on the deck watching another incredible sunset. Can anybody tell me; is there a difference between a sunrise and a sunset? Apart from the one coming and the other going? They are both as beautiful. I just had my shower and dry up sunbath. Rina surprised with a cold corona, so some leisure time. I think it is aloud when you are of watch and because our water restrictions are down to a liter a day. Last night the moon was out. I like that the reflections on the water and the fact that you can see around you. Every now and then the stars fool me and I think I see the mast light of another boat. Wishful thinking according to our daily summery the closes boat is 300 miles away. Great to find a message from my brother in Australia, looking forward to see him in a couple of months. Ok off to be creative in the kitchen. -Jan
04/07/2009, 01 25.71'S:127 08.33'W, 858 Miles to Hiva Hoa
Now that we have passed the equator, it's all about getting to the Marquesas. We find ourselves wanting to optimize our points of sail and time our motoring just to maximize our VMG. Today we had decent winds, even if they came from the Northeast, rather than the expected East or Southeast, allowing a 6-7 hour spinnaker run at 5 knots. As the sun set, the winds died, and we motored once again.
We passed the time reading, cleaning, and since I woke up to the sound of a squealing winch, rebuilt all four of our winches. I cleaned and lubricated them last in winter 2007, so it was time. Ahh, the smell of grease, carb cleaner and the feel of cleaning gears. reminds me of rebuilding engines in my youth. There is nothing quite like methodically tearing down and rebuilding a precision geared instrument. And the sound after rebuilding the winches was exquisite, click, click click, like hearing the sound of an engine first firing up after a rebuild (sans muffler, of course) -allan
04/06/2009, 00 10.90'S:125 39.66'W, 1950 Miles Southwest of Banderas Bay
The day dawned as the last 4, with the drone of the engine pervasive in our dreams, the smell of diesel exhaust present at each watch. As the sun rose, we started the countdown to the equator. We expected to cross the equator at noon, perfect symmetry to this special event. As the equator neared, we prepared a special noon-edition spread of appetizers and nicely chilled bottle of Champagne. As it turns out, Jan and friends share a house not more then 50 kilometers from Reims, where our nice bottle of Vueve Clicquot hails from.
Still, the engine droned on.
Nautical custom requires that we pay homage to King Neptune by pouring over the side "a wee dram of the most expensive beverage in the liquor locker". Jan humored us by dressing up as the great king, pointing to the equator as we passed directly over. We toasted our good fortune, and acknowledged that we were no longer pollywogs, but now fully credentialed Shellbacks, the nautical term for those who have sailed over the equator.
Having completed our homage, we proceeded with our other chores, swimming in the deep blue, cleaning the pesky goose neck barnacles off the hull, showering, and transferring fuel to the main tank. To steady the boat as we were doing our fuel transfer, we raised the spinnaker. After 20 minutes of fuel transfer, we headed back to the cockpit to find that the winds had freshened to 12-14 and we were now regularly hitting 5.5-6 knots SOG, better than we had done for days with the iron genny. At last the boat is quiet, with only the wonderful sound of water glancing off our bow. Less than 1000 miles to go...
It must have been that toast to Neptune. -allan
From now on it is Suivre toi Suivre moi the French version of yes indeed Follow you Follow me. There it was 00.00 latitude de evenaar very special to cross it by boat. We have been looking for it for days and with the champagne it gave us a boost. Suddenly Neptunes granted us wind so we are sailing again. Just another 9 days before we reach the Marquesas sadly I have to leave the suivre toi suivre moi by then. But we will stay together while I sail on with the Carinthia a 440 lagoon catamaran. We are almost out of fresh food so it's time for beans, lentels etc. I started with a chili which I made in the high pressure cooker. I also received some blog comments send on by Gene thanks Gene! Great to here from Inanna and Joke en Wil. That is it for today I am on watch and it is much better out there. Lots of love - Jan
04/05/2009, 00 43.68'N:124 30.98'W, 1800 Miles Southwest of Banderas Bay
While we can rarely remember what day of the week it is, Sunday's hold a special charm for us, as we relive some of our land-based routines. a breakfast of eggs/potatoes, a good book, and a nap, specifically.
Our rendezvous with the equator has been deferred by winds from the South-Southeast of 9-10 knots, which, while not quite enough to propel us under sail alone, is enough to slow our progress along our intended southern route. We have adjusted our float plan to take us further west as we approach the equator, currently heading 229, which will bring us to the equator around noon tomorrow. We will celebrate with Neptune and a bottle of Vueve, and then continue South-Southwest to find the Southern trades.
Understand we may have posted the wrong picture for day 14. Here is the intended picture, which is also apropos for today. -allan
04/04/2009, 02 00.'N:123 13.94'W, 1650 Miles Southwest of Banderas Bay
4pm. It was a refreshingly cool and wet afternoon. we caught a whole quart of water!!! Amazing. Lol. I just finished another movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; I have to say it was a little disappointing for how long it was, too slow and uneventful. Hopefully tonight's margaritas and fresh baked focaccia bread (courtesy of mommy dearest) with tonight's dinner will prove more exciting. Love always. 4:30pm (Newsflash. a rainbow just appeared after finishing this rather uneventful blog entry, so I think much "happier" blogs are soon to follow?) 7pm Wow, so Mother Nature proves that anything can happen in 2 hours. Rainstorms appeared out of nowhere. Dad and I manned both port and starboard water fill valves while sitting on rubber cushions to block water drainage off our now-clean deck. It rained hard for a little while adding 2 bars to our tank indicators, but I think it was just the fun of it all that was more gratifying. We got a clean shower in the downpour, just enjoying the moment. I'm constantly in awe that I'm sailing with nothing around me. Today there was absolutely no wind, hence the name doldrums, or should I say dull drums. The water seemed like a perfect mirror to the sky, so glassy. I think I enjoy the excitement of sailing in "foul weather" because of the excitement you get out of it. The faster the wind and more the rain, the more you have to do. Of course, I love the perfect sunny days, but as young as I am, I want to act, to explore, swim, feel the adrenaline when something exciting or a little out of the ordinary happens. That's how it should be at this age, right? So today was thoroughly exciting. Bring on the rain, as I know Megan is dancing for as she confirmed, it makes it much more enticing for me to finish learning how to sail, and I'm sure the rest of the crew would love the fresh water for their shower as well. -Alyssa
04/03/2009, 03 55.01'N:122 36.25'W, 1576 Miles Southwest of Banderas Bay
A lazy day on Follow You, as evidenced by Alyssa's pose, was interrupted by good news via email late in the day. Given night watches, our days tend to start slow anyway, as everyone catches up on sleep, but today was even slow by that standard, as there is still little wind, and we are all sonically insulated by the sound of the Yanmar purring away at 1700 RPMs. After our late morning swim, dish cleaning and hygiene wipe-down of all handhold surfaces on the boat, it's mostly reading and in Alyssa's case, more sleeping.
We then got the news that our friends on Carinthia, a Lagoon 440 Catamaran, and Kaomoana, a Hunter 49 have arrived in Hiva Oa, and you could sense their excitement of being back on land again. They report well stocked grocery stores, which have been a concern, friendly people and great restaurants. The other good news is word that my Brother Phil and his wife Josie, who crewed on the Baja Haha with us, will be joining us in August in Tonga and Vava'u for two weeks. We could not be more thrilled, or more surprised, by being visited by family out here. Aunt Stephanie and John are joining us in the Marquesas and making the passage to the Tuamoto's with us, daughter Megan joins in Tahiti, Cousin Jeffrey comes aboard for passage to the Cooks and Tonga. leaving only Fiji without guests.. Of course, by that time, Rina and I might be looking for some 1-1 time, but we would much rather be visited by parents.. Hear that Mom? Hear that Mama Fives? FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIJJJJJJJJJIIIII IIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!
Our afternoon included a buzz of activity discussing our plans upon arrival, hitting the Frommers and Lonely Planet guide books, as well as our cruising guides. Jan will be departing Follow You in the Marquesas, perhaps jumping to Carinthia until the Tuamoto's, where he either rejoins us for the passage to Tahiti or falls prey to the seduction of the large, air conditioned catamaran.
We expect to hit the equator in about 2.5 days, and then it's about 7 to the Marquesas.
Are we there yet? -allan
EMBARRASSING! Could Dad pick a better time to take a picture? Ugh. My excuse for the gorgeous sleeping pose. it's hot and my bed's too short. And for the embarrassing picture of me bathing on yesterday's blog?... Saltwater does not rest well in my eyes and mouth. So there. I've explained my unfeminine instances revealed on camera. Lol. Since waking up (at umm, 3pm was it?), I made a delicious orzo pasta salad with peanuts, sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus, and parmesan cheese with a light Italian dressing. Hungry anyone? Seeing that they're having ribs as their main course, I thought I would contribute a lighter, healthy, vegetarian side dish. Ribs on water do not sound particularly appetizing especially in this hot weather. Mom was right; my appetite has been going down while sailing. I think it will help the little weight I've gained since eating the surprisingly unhealthy dining hall food at UC Santa Cruz. Call me a princess, but I've been blessed to have grown up in such a health conscious family, eating very exotic and creative food. not your normal fare. Love and miss you! -Alyssa
Bonjour mes amies. French polonesia is at the horizon. So I started updating my French with sail terms like ligne de mouillage (anchor line) We have this wonderful French for cruisers book, which is fun to read. French polonesia on the horizon? It is still a long way. These are boring days, engine on, noise and diesel fumes in the middle of paradise. Time to read my Robinson Crusoe, time for endless talks with Rina, time for taking care of my blisters and time to be hot, hot, hot. I have been stung again by a jelly fish so no more swimming for me. But a salt water wash is still nice, water temp 26 C (81.5F) Lots of time to think about everything I have done so far and making plans for the coming months. So boring days doesn't mean a boring mind! Veel liefs en groeten voor allemaal -Jan
How many askings can I have to ask how long is it going to be? Are we there yet? How many more miles? Just to clarify.when the girls were young, in car seats, during the commutes in Silicon Valley, they used to ask soooo many questions regarding are arrival and departures and travel times in the car..so we limited the amount of "askings" to 3 a day. Megan became quite good at asking with out actually asking..Alyssa would learn this later from her sister. I feel that at least 3 per day would work for me on this journey. Here it is, I'm the Mom, and limiting myself to ask the same dumb questions my children asked while growing up??? Who wudda thunk? The islands are looking closer on my charts, I'm getting excited with Carinthia's report on the friendliness of the people, restaurants, groceries, and just the beauty of the islands...Cant' Wait!!! love to all, - Rina
04/02/2009, 06 00.24'N:121 57.91'W, 1400 Miles Southwest of Banderas Bay
All the past days of exciting water travel.wind, rain, and even swells has gone adrift.Now having little wind 4-5 knots, unable to run with the spinnaker or any sails, we've come to the conclusion that we must run our friend "miss Iron Genny". Many of us sailors know this is painful and noisy (everyone that has traveled on Follow you know this!!). We are taking advantage of charging our batteries, stopped for a swim, (which I slept through.I was very tired!), and had delicious tuna sandwiches for lunch (thanks Alyssa!). I've come to find myself thinking of home a lot these last couple of days, missing walks with the dogs, coffee stops (Hi Josie!), you know, "Normal Daily Routines". I miss the days when the girls were still in elementary and was able to drop them off at school, go to coffee with my girlfriends(Hi Donnica, Sonja, and ZuZu!) and play 9 holes of golf.those were the days. Now the kids are grown and gone I just miss my own "home" routines. I think it's called "cab in fever" when you start to think outside of the boat now. I know that I've got a little of it, although, I still can't believe that I'm out crossing this amazing ocean. Still so clean, clear and soooooo BLUE! Still, there is not much for sea life except flying fish. Food management has been going well. We will eat and drink well even if the water becomes and issue (which it won't, I have an emergency water maker in my ditch bag if all fails to keep the water up).so Everyone, miss you, Love to you all, not to worry. -Rina
As Rina mentioned, the winds have died, and except for a couple of periods where we might see 10 knots for a few hours, we expect to be motoring for the next 5-700 miles. How can we do that? Here is how we figured out our budgets for fuel.
217 - Total gallons aboard - 100 main tank, 67 Aux Tank, 50 in Jerry Jugs on deck 44 - 20% for getting off the coast and to the doldrums 108 - 50% for getting through the doldrums 32.5 - 15% for getting to Hiva Oa 32.5 - 15% for reserve
At 1700 RPM's we burn .61 gallons an hour, and do about 5.5 knots. Right now we are seeing closer to 6 due to a favorable current.
108 gallons gets us 178 hours or 7.4 days of motoring, for a range of 978 miles.
Based on the daily YOTREPS reports we get, the 8 boats southwest of us have been motoring mostly, but seeing some periods of winds above 10 knots. The winds stopped for them at about 6-North Latitude, and a day or two later, it did for us. We see two boats that have picked up the southern trades at about 2-South Latitude, so for us, worst case, we motor for 800 miles till we hit the trades again, leaving a buffer of 178 miles for this leg of the trip.
With the wind dying, so has the crews motivation, as it is hot and sticky. If the wind were coming from any direction other than northeast, we might still feel some of the 5-6 knot breeze. Because it comes from directly behind us, we feel NO wind.. The only time that changes is when the boat rocks back and forth in the swell, which brings it's own form of aggravation.
We were planning a 12-25 day journey and it now looks like we will be closer to 25 than 21, which makes this the halfway point. Funny thing, there is not much celebrating going on, as the hot and sweaty realization has occurred that we have *another* 12-13 days to go LOL. We try to break up the day by swimming and cooling off with stern saltwater showers. Don't worry, we continue to follow the 10 minute rule to keep the sharks away.Our next gala event will be crossing over the equator and toasting Neptune, which has a whole ritual associated with it.. But hey, we will take any excuse for a party, as long as it doesn't make those night watches harder. -allan