Samoa Within the Week
18 July 2010
It is the middle of the night - my watch, about 2am. So dang-blasted hot, that is the only way to describe it. The kids wake up a couple times a night to ask for water. The sea water temp is 86 and the air temp is 80 and we are quite definitely becalmed. We are moving under power of the engine and have been for 9 hours already. This is a sailboat but we are not averse to using our auxillary engine when the going isn't going. We have about 100 hours of diesel in the tanks and 10 more gallons in jerry cans just in case. We've used about 60 hours so far on the trip and we have less than ¼ of the way to go. Seems like a good use of resources. Hoping to catch up with some new wind at a favorable angle as the sun rises.
According to our ship's log, we have travelled over 5,000 miles since leaving Seattle on May 9th. We are closer to New Zealand than we are to California. We are about 500 miles out from Samoa (our passage is a total of 2300 miles from Hilo) and we just passed a fishing ship 1 and ½ miles to port. Eric hailed them on the radio and did make contact but we couldn't understand their English and we didn't speak whatever it was they were speaking, but at least we alerted them to our presence in case they hadn't noticed before. It is a big ocean, but ships do often pass in the night.
We haven't seen much wildlife on this passage, just tonight as we are getting closer to land we had some dolphin visitors. At least, that is what we think they were. Just a couple of them, black and larger than the grey bottlenose we've seen before. They were less playful than others, preferring to glide alongside our stern for a few minutes before heading off somewhere. Lots of flying fish - in schools they leap through the air and fly with their little fins an amazing distance before diving in again. A couple of frigate birds again and not much else.
Eric caught us another Mahi yesterday. We had Mahi filets for dinner and the rest he made into Ceviche for tomorrow's lunch. The kids aren't so keen on the fish meals yet; hoping that will change, expecting that it won't.
Kid update: Sophie is busy designing her ideal boat to live on. She has catalogued the shortcomings of her environment and is keen to make a difference 'the next time we take one of these trips.' She has also been busy created a new language. Finn is still busy doing Dinosaur research using a couple books we have on board. He is also usually the first one up in the morning, shortly before 6am. He sits on the bench and reads his books until the rest of the crew begins to stir. He is really enjoying the Secrets of Droon series as well as the Akimbo series by Alexander McCall Smith. Freya is working hard on her reading skills, going through the Bob Books with Eric. When she has trouble sounding out a word, brother Finn offers some great advice he learned from his teacher Linda and Freya seems to respond quickly to that kind of help. As heartbroken as we are that Freya will miss an incredible Kindergarten year with such a special teacher, it is so good to know that Finn has so much of that year fresh in his mind. He is eager to share. Finn and Freya have also been busy painting flags from different countries. We have a maritime flags of the world book on board and they are making sure we are ready to fly the courtesy flag wherever we might land (Peru and Norway included.)
For the folks who read these blogs to get info for their own planning efforts, we will be doing a "Gear Issue" once we have some time in port. However, I must put in a word for the following items: Bottomsiders - these are the cushions we bought for the cockpit. We thought they were a luxury item; absolutely essential. 5,000 miles of sitting can hurt if you don't have some squish. Also, we are still thankful for our self-steering device the Monitor Windvane from Scanmar. It just keeps on going and lets us get some sleep and some very very important shelter from the sun. If we had to hand steer in this direct sun for any length of time we'd be toasted, literally. We also have had great service from our Spectra watermaker. For years Katadyn was the leading brand, and we do have their portable, handheld water maker in our ditch kit, but for serious fill-the-tank water making, the Spectra puts out about 6 gallons and hour drawing less power from our batteries than the Katadyn would. We are quite pleased.
Speaking of water, we haven't seen rain since the downpour in the ITCZ last week. Our boat is completely salt-encrusted topsides and our bodies are quite salty now too. Everything is. It comes through the port lights on the breeze (when there is a breeze, when we can have the windows open without fear of waves caused water to gush in like they did earlier today)
So that's the update. Not much else to add except that everyday something either breaks or shows its weakness. Eric continues to rise to the challenge. The moon is now down and the air is very still and thick. The clouds have dissipated and I can some stars, but otherwise it is a very dark black night on the unusually calm water.