Ups and Downs
09 June 2010 | 30 N, 130 W
Are we going to Hawaii yet? When will be there? Will I have my birthday in Hawaii? How much longer will it take to get there? I thought of a sobering analogy in reply to these questions: Sailing to Hawaii covers the same distance as driving across the United States, only we are moving (on our best days) at 6 miles/hour. Take a look on a map, that is only a small bit of the distance to Australia (our intended destination by November.) What a big ocean!
We've had the moments of panic when the sump pump goes off in the middle of the night and we think oh my goodness where is that water coming from? (the shower head released the last of its holdings). Or we wake up and find ourselves becalmed and think we've mis-represented our time and position to our weather router and we second-guess the course we are on. Or we think we've used 35 hours of our 100 hours of diesel when we've only used 25 hours (that is within our comfort zone as we are ¼ of the way to our destination.)
We also had our moments of beauty. A tiny bird found its way to our deck in the cold, foggy night we left San Fran. We think the bird was soaked through and needed to dry out. It stayed with us for almost 3 days - through a raucus gale with 29 kts and 8-10 foot seas. The morning the weather cleared, he must've flown away. We've heard some familiar squeaks today so we may have another stowaway somewhere on deck. The dolphins appear from time to time. They show up like good friends do at the front door - unannounced and thoroughly welcome. We stop what we are doing and watch the show. They like to ride the bow wave - we read that they enjoy the resistance. The other day we were sailing along when Spfeet! Spfeet! And Woosh! About 20 dolphins were on the scene - circling, diving, flipping. They stayed for a good 20 minutes and entertained us fully.
This trip isn't all fun and games - there is a lot of work, some tension, a great deal of kid management issues. My Dad commented that our greatest challenge is not working the rig, but dealing with our kids. When I filled out the application for my Mahina Expeditions trip from Fiji to New Zealand last year, the Neals' materials stressed that their opportunity was not a luxury cruise, it was a hands-on seminar. It was luxurious and relaxing compared to what we've undertaken now. With Mahina, we had 8 adults on board, Amanda and John cooked all our meals, there was quiet time to read or sleep between watches and class time.
On our boat, we have to do it all and we get very little downtime from the kids - there is no school we can send them off to for 6 hours in the day. I can't deal with the lack of sleep as well as Eric can. I also have trouble with my mood during a particularly bumpy ride. I don't get seasick in the traditional sense with nausea, but I get very annoyed with being thrown around the boat when all I'm trying to do is cook a simple meal of pasta and red sauce (for and hour and a half!) I fantasize about selling our boat in Hawaii and buying plane tickets to Australia. Eric is much more even tempered and has a consistently positive outlook. He's our highly capable captain and we are lucky to be in his care.
Eric's chores in this regard range from downloading our weather faxes on the Ham radio, fixing the toilet (again), making fresh water with our Spectra desalinator, home schooling Sophie, cooking sometimes, and reading to the kids at night. That leaves plenty of work for me to do during the 24 hour day, but my skills are not as diversified. When I speak of the 24 hour day, I mean to convey that we do experience every hour. There is little in the way of deep sleep. Rather we catch our rest in bits and pieces, and sometimes very little. Our watch schedule is 2 hours/on and 4 hours/off. I sleep from 10pm-2am and then again from 4am-8am. The kids get up at 6am so that takes a hunk out of my time right there. The boat is still moving along all through the night. Down below we have the courtesy lights (glowing red, along the walkway) on to give us some light during watch changes but not so bright that it hurts our night vision.
Last night we had our first star-filled night of the journey; hoping for another tonight, but it is 7 pm and the sky is once again covered with clouds.
[Ham operator's note: the sky is 60% clear per the ship's log.]