03/18/2012, HALF WAY THERE!!
This morning, about 0930 PST we hit the half way point to the Marquesas. YES! It's was a strange moment. I thought that when we got out here everything would feel so vast and big and all it really feels like so far is one of trips down the coast when we've elected to travel far off shore. This part of the ocean is fairly mild with consistent winds and fairly mellow seas (albeit a little rollicky at times. We're now no longer creating distance between us and land rather we're closing distance. Thanks to Alex (best crew ever) we have huge land support for weather and such. We've found a nice little pocket of strong wind and Pandion is tearing across the ocean often making 9-10 knots sustained. I know I've said it before and y'all are probably sick of hearing it, but this boat sails like nothing I've ever dreamed of. Yah, I'm still sea-sick a little but I still can't get over how well she sails. She just charges forward with little care about the sea-state. It's like she's on a rail. We should have named her "HoneyBadger" instead of Pandion. She's that badass. We're a little over 300 miles from the equator and we'll have our little ceremony when we get there. Jared is the oldest so he gets to be Poseidon. He and Sage spent the morning making him a crown out of duct tape. She mad a crown out of pipe cleaners for me.
I'm still struggling to make the best of this passage. I'm all the time mildly ill. I do way better once the sun goes down which I find strange. But at least I have that! I am also able to sleep now. The seas are far less rolly and Lorca made me what I call a "princess bed." It's perfect and I sleep so well on it! He took our memory foam topper and rolled it up into a perfect twin bed sized squishy marshmallow-y bed for me. It's so squishy that it's nearly impossible to launch me from the bed. YAY! The downside is that it makes snuggling up to the Huzz harder since I've got about 6 inches more altitude than he. But that's OK - it's not much longer. We're making amazing time and if the wind stays strong as it is now we'll be there in about 6 more days making this a 15-16 day passage. Really fast. Most folks take minimally three weeks or so. We knew Pandion was fast but we had no idea.
The weather is hot and humid but since the trade winds are so strong we're comfortable. The water temperature is 80.5 degrees! Lorca continues to fish for the elusive giant tuna. Today he made a lure out of a hook, a shiny piece of scrap aluminum. and a big lock of my red hair that he cut off when we were in Mexico. So far, no bites. It's a cool lure anyway.
Interestingly, we've seen very little wildlife. We've only seen one Booby in the past few days and a couple of these small brown pelagic birds. And of course the 9 gajillion flying fish.
Alex sent us some of the comments you are alll leaving on the blog and I can't tell you how much it means to me to read them, so THANK YOU Alex for sending them and thank you wonderful people for leaving them. It makes it so much easier for me to be out here knowing that you'll all out there with us. When we get to the Marquesas and have good internet I'll post lots of pictures.
Oh, I take the midnight to 4AM watch, then Lorca follows me at 4AM. Last night he saw, for the first time, the Southern cross, low in the sky and to the south. So cool! We get to learn a whole new sky!
I miss you all!
03/16/2012, 1/3 of passage to Marquesas, 13,500 feet deep!
The water temperature hit 82 degrees today, for the first time, while we ate Sage-made green jello ( And a Happy St. Patrick's Day to my sweet part-Irish daughter Zoe!) We really hoped the puffy grey cumulus clouds would fresh- wet us, but we only got a smattering of big fat tropical drops. We're teaching each other new card games, reading many books, and taking afternoon naps to be able to stay awake for midnight watches. Last night the radar showed a mysterious constant blip, too close, for an hour; I ran around with the binocs, trying vainly to see boatlights off the beam...Do I wake up El Capitan? Change course? Go it alone and risk a collision? When the watch changed, Lola theorized we'd been courted by a submarine; but a soberer light-of-day analysis of rainclouds prevailed. It's just beginning to really sink in: we're a thousand miles from anywhere! But Pandion tracks on bravely, the company's great, flash-frozen tuna makes fine sashimi. I'm missing my wonderful friends, neighbors, family, and sweetmate, but truly this is the best adventure!
03/16/2012, 08 21.47N 118 27.87
I would like to refer to yesterday as: "DOM #6" DOM = Day of Misery Seasick meds not working boat rolling constantly through 20-30 degrees and then I had a major meltdown. Like 3 year old style. Now, I'm not one who could easily described as having many bony prominences. But on a boat that is rolling like mad, a properly timed roll coupled with momentum in the same direction added to a door hand = easily found bony prominence and many bruises in many places. Seasickness + getting tossed around the boat like a pinball for 6 days straight = major meltdown with me cursing at the sea after the dishes that I had just washed when flying across the cabin with a heavy cup landing square on my very bony foot and leaving me with a huge lumpy bruise on my foot. I was feeling so completely demoralized yesterday. Sleeping has been a challenge - we've not been getting ANY because we're getting tossed right out of our beds. As of yesterday I never wanted to do an ocean crossing again. NEVER. I took my watch last night hoping to feel better, but I didn't and I awoke this morning with the same black mood with which I had gone to sleep
But an ice coffee saved the day! It's very hot now so I made myself a king-sized iced coffee, gulped it down and sat my butt down amidships where the boarding ladder usually goes. It's the best seat in the house for me - for some reason I don't get as seasick there. I sat for an hour watching the water. My heavens is it ever an amazing color! It's a clear turquoise that looks like jewels. Or candy. The boobys have followed our boat very closely - always circling it which I found interesting. There are a gajillion flying fish of every size and they are incredible! In this hour of solitude that I sat and watched the water I came to a much better understanding of how they may have evolved wings and flight. They actually fly- the don't just jump out of the water. They can carve a path through the air to avoid predators. Poor critters are hunted from above and below! We find several on deck in the mornings after they've flown onto our decks to their deaths. There were six this morning - one very large one that Lorca put in the freezer - hopefully for bait and not to eat. The smaller ones were left on the aft deck and got very dry. Jared, channeling his big brother (Sage's beloved grampa) Michael, ate the smallest dried up flying fish right off the deck on a dare from Sage. Jared is rapidly becoming a God to Sage. Well-earned to be sure. He has made this passage wonderful for her. And I am so grateful! Back to the flying fishies and boobys...so my guess about why the Boobys follow the boat: boat scares flying fish out of water - boobys swoop down and eat flying fish. This gives us a wonderful show. The boobys seem to hunt cooperatively. Or at least opportunistically. One booby will swoop down and dive into the water, a dozen or more flying fish will take flight and the boobys, if they are good, will catch them mid-air. They are amazing fliers.
We had a pod of hundreds of dolphins at our bow yesterday zipping along with the boat and leaping through the air. Dolphins at the bow of the boat never ever get old. They even managed to get a smile out of Lola the Sea Hag. We have really good wind right now and Pandion is screaming along at 9 and 10 knots and we're making 200 mile days no problem. YAY! The shorter this passage the better! Though I am feeling loads better today. I've switched my medication - I'm back to the patch and off the dilantin so I'm hoping by tomorrow I'll feel human again. I'm also trying to be a good person by not sharing my misery with everyone which is what I was doing yesterday. Today I decided that if I feel awful I'll just smile anyway and then go to my seat amidships. The boat is still rolling like mad and it's still very frustrating that I can't walk from one end of the boat to the other without sustaining yet another bashing and bruising but if I'm not seasick then it's easier to deal with. Anyway, it's getting easier and I enjoyed most of today.
I thought about potential seasick remedies and these are what I came up with:
Gimbal my head. - (we have the technology, we can rebuild her...) I like this option because it would help me perfect my Bollywood neck waggle.
Drug myself to the point of stupor. (not a great option at all)
Swim to French Polynesia
Start drikning heavily.
Suck it up and stop complaining because really, it's not that bad and it's an opportunity of a lifetime and a privilege to be out here with my amazing family - we 4 Rossmans, sailing the high seas and seeing this Ocean Wilderness in a way few people are ever able. (but I still like the head-gimbaling option the best BOLLYWOOD HERE I COME!)
03/14/2012, 14.20.763N 114.35.383W
I didn't write yesterday because I've been suffering seasickness. I know, right? It's like 5 days in and I'm still seasick. SUCKS! I'm only mildly ill now because I'm medicated up the wazoo. (5 bucks to anyone who can tell me the origin of that word) 5 days into passage and the scenery doesn't change a whole lot and I find myself pining away for my life on land. But, when the scenery does change, it's pretty magnificent and is a very welcome distraction from the unrelenting rolling motion of the boat from the very mixed swell, that, no matter our course, we end up taking swell on the side oft he boat. Pandion is amazing but not that amazing. In fact, I think we'd need a submarine to get away from this swell. Can you tell how much I love this swell? I'll venture a guess that it's akin to Chinese water torture. But enough belly-aching and on to the brighter parts of this journey...
BOOBY HO! We've had a lot of Booby birds around the boat. In my last post I talked about how they were circling the boat like a shark at its prey. One finally landed on the boat!! It landed in the starboard bow and stayed there well into the night. Over 8 hours! He was so beautiful. He sat and preened and preened and preened and pooped. Boy did he poop. The deck beneath his perch is covered in booby poop. It was such a treat to have been adopted by a booby.
Around 4 in the afternoon, Lorca was below cooking and about a hundred or more booby birds were frantically flying and diving, presumably there were small fish being chased to the surface. The boobys were to the left of the boat. Then, all of a sudden to the right of the boat were HUNDREDS of dolphins. But were they? They were funny-looking dolphins. Kinda of torpedo-shaped. Sage and I were yelling frantically for Lorca to come up. We were still yelling, "DOLPHINS HUNDREDS COME QUICK!" Lorca got up there and said, "Those are tuna." I looked more closely at their tails and sure enough, HUNDREDS of the biggest tuna I've ever seen. They were the size of porpoises. Not kidding even a little bit. Not even exaggerating. Lorca was forlornly mumbling, "Tuna, and I missed em." He looked so SOOOO sad. And then.....ZZZZZZZZZZ! Goes the fishing line. One of those giant tuna hit his line and hit it HARD. Within a minute or so the reel was nearly spooled. I was frantically trying to take down sail and slow the boat. Lorca was trying to fight this fish and tighten the drag and burnt his thumb on the line it was going out so fast. And then, the fish got off. Lorca wasn't too terribly sad, I think because how on earth does one deal with a 2-3 hundred pound fish?? There certainly wasn't room in the freezer. And I remember how long it took to process the 80 pound maguro we caught on our way down to Mexico. That was all very exciting.
We've finally gotten a little more wind and Pandion has been averaging about 8 knots all day. Thank goodness. The incessant rolling motion has been really hard on the sails - each time we roll (we're rolling through about 20-35 degrees) the wind spills from the sails, they flog, then the winds snaps them violently back into place. Each time this happens all I can hear is "CHA-CHING!" And then I have visions of it taking 2 months to get to French Polynesia because we've blown out all our sails and only have our staysl left. We tore our spinnaker yesterday which was really a bummer because it was giving us an additional three knots of speed.
Jared continues to be a wonderful presence aboard. Always cheerful, helpful, always grateful and, like all the Rossman men, he's got that twinkle in his eye that just makes you smile. Plus, he brought 12 books and they all look really good. I've started reading, "The Book Thief" which has been really hard to get into after reading "The Raven's Gift." Jon Turk wrote Raven's Gift and it's written so intelligently without pomp or fanfare yet remains one of the most beautiful non-fiction books I've ever read. The Book thief is written with so much affect that I feel like I'm chocking on the words and that my eyes are sticky after I read. But the story is compelling so I trudge ahead. I brought a bunch of Arhundati Roy along - haven't read her since college and can't want to sink my teeth into those.
There's a lot of water around. I'm feeling homesick and impatient and very frustrated with the ocean swell. But perhaps my life has been far too easy for the past 10 years. Maybe it's time for a little adversity and maybe it's time to be reunited with the younger version of me - the one that had a lot more chutzpah. When all of this became a reality, I spent a lot of time worrying about how I would handle it all. Seasickness and all. On the night before we left I thought to myself, "Well, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." And my life has been so easy the past ten years. Maybe it's good that this is so hard for me. I think I've taken for granted so many of the amazing gifts I have at home. I have 5 women in my life who I can call, "Best Friend" And another 10 or so incredible, strong women in my community who I absolutely adore but don't make enough time for. And my dear friend My, who, having come from a similar background as me (that Chinese thing) is like a sister to me. She calls me her, "SFAM" (sister from another Family) I'm pretty good at not taking my family for granted. Boy am I ever lucky there! Ma, Grandmommy, Groonie, Gruncle, Doogle, Aunty B, and of course my sweet little family of three I've definitely taken for granted my home. What a beautiful place we live in. But how many times have I spent wandering the woods these past few years? Here's the kicker, I'm in this ocean wilderness pining away for home. When I get home will I want to be back at sea? Probably. Now that's something that needs fixing, to be sure. So my task for the week is to pull myself out of this seasick-induced funk and be present. (this is always easy to do at anchor in paradise - but here, in the ocean, I need to dig deep. Very deep) I know there are lessons to be learned out here and I don't want to miss the opportunity.
Sage is an amazingly tolerant child. This is definitely not her choice of where to be. I think it would be a lot easier if she had a sibling. Despite this, she manages to make the best of it. I should write a book, "How my daughter teaches me to be a better person." I stand in awe of her most days.
The water temp is almost 80 degrees and we've passed out of the tropical sun and entered a strange overcast mugginess that is typical of tropical waters. It's warm and humid and for the first time in several weeks my skin doesn't feel dry! The moonrises out here are unbelievable. And the sunsets...wow. It's time for the Pacific Puddle Jumpers Net so I'm off to connect with other boats out here with us.
03/13/2012, The Vast Pacific
Today started kinda rough. I was unable to sleep before my watch so ended up staying up for, I dunno, like EVER? I woke Lorca around 0430 but sail changes needed to happen to I was up till 530 or so. Then it was so darn hot in my berth that I couldn't sleep in. I woke very grumpy.
But then the boobys came. I love boobys! They're such odd creatures. They are so incredibly nimble and graceful in the air but when they land they look so awkward. They graced us with their presence for quite some time and would fly so close to the boat! Several of them would circle the boat like a shark checking out its prey. Currently they is one that's been flying with me since I came on watch and he's making silly noises. I wish I knew what he was saying.
The gentle winds of this area make for an incredibly gentle sea and slow going but it's so nice to have mellow conditions that I don't feel too much irritation by the projected length of our crossing. Yes, I'd rather get there sooner - I'm totally not cut out for life at sea - even with the incredible luxury that Pandion provides. As I said before, my physiology, so far, just doesn't allow me to be totally comfortable out here. Three days and sea and my poor inner ear still can't make sense of this motion - gentle and soothing as it seems to be. So, I end up not moving very much and the rest of me gets all stove-up from inactivity. It's frustrating but still worth every minute.
Jared, the sly dog, did not wake me at midnight as he was supposed to and let me sleep until i woke on my own at 0130. I desperately needed that extra sleep!! And, he FINALLY broke out the harmonica and played for us. Those of you who know Jared know what a treat he is musically. He continues to provide us with great company. He is very fine crew, indeed. He and Sage have been having a blast. He's taught her a new card game and she's taught him one as well. He included her in his very difficult crossword from the Nation. Most adults would have told her that she's too young and wouldn't understand, but he took each of her suggestions and treated them as valuable and it was so sweet to see them deep in discussion over the clues. He participated in her school work (grammar) with interest and they continued to terrorize each other any chance they got. Sage lost her grampy at far too young an age so any time she gets with the elder men of our community is precious to me. This concentrated time with Jared of course is extra special and I can't help but wonder if it's because there is a familiarity between Gpa Michael and Uncle Jared. It reminds me that when we get home I want her to spend more time with Gruncle (My Uncle Mike, who I adore) and her Doogle (my mom's partner of, like, forever) She loves them both dearly and hasn't gotten enough time with them.
I'm reading a book right now called, "The Raven's Gift, but Jon Turk." If you've not read it, leave this blog posting, go to your local, independent bookstore and get it! I love all books and will read just about anything. But this is in my top ten all time faves. While we're on books - also, while you're supporting your local, independent bookstore, make sure you pick up a copy of, "People of the Book." Astounding. I wish I'd bought another copy before I left. So many books and so little time.
Lorca continues to be the awesomest husband ever. And Sage is not just enduring but seems to be thriving. I think, mostly because her Uncle Jared is here. He's been making this so fun for her! He spends loads of time playing with her like she's a kid but interacting with her mind on an adult level. She's in hog- heaven. They had a long discussion about Christpher Columbus today - Sage having concluded that's he was pretty much evil. Sage rarely has such harsh opinions about people and I was quick to agree that he was horrible. Jared reminded us that he was a hero from Spain's perspective and Sage said, "but he lied about all that too!" And then they had a honest discussion about him that ended with the two of them trying to find redeeming qualities in him. They came up short but it was a great conversation to witness. Then Sage, after her history lesson, and I were talking about lynching and when I told her what it was she was so indignant and said, "Stupid white people! I mean, why would you go and kill somebody just because they have beautiful skin? That's stupid!" Then we talked about dehumanization and before I could talk about it she says, "Oh my gosh, that's right - slaves were property not human... and then she's silent for moment, clearly deep in thought and says, " Well. what makes us human anyway? I mean, we walk upright, lost our fur, have permanent boobies and a big forebrain." (OMG - did that really just come out of my kid's mouth???) Black people have all that too!" And then she continued on, "Stupid white people." I was quick to remind her that we're, for all intent purposes, white, and she said, "No we're not, we're tan!" Totally cracked the both of us up. Then she said, "Well, white people have done a lot of stupid stuff" to which I replied, "Yes, and just as there are dumb while people there are dumb black people too." And, that, considering the time of slavery, it was very unfortunate that a lot of the people who held power were dumb white people. I so cherish this time with her. What a neat human being she's growing into. And what a gift that we are lucky enough that Lorca was smart enough to make this all possible for us. To have this time of quiet for her to grow and change in a way that is unfettered by modern life. I feel so blessed - discomfort and all. So blessed.
Day 2 of passage.
The good news: I'm hardly seasick! I'm not sure the weather could be better (hot sun, cool breeze, water temp is 75.4), our avocados are perfectly ripe and delicious (what is it about Mexican Avocados? They are always sooooo good down there!) and life is generally splendid.
The OK news: I'm not seasick because it's sooooo mellow out here. Hence, the title. We are moving along very slowly but it's very lovely and pleasant out here. We've been futzing with different sail configurations all morning - we don't have much light air experience. After hours of sailing slowly along with little wind, we grew some cojones and decided to bust out the spinnaker. A spinnaker on a boat this big can be a little intimidating. The spinnaker we have is even too small for this boat and it still seems ginormous. But it paid off because just as we got it properly set the wind dropped off to about 1 knot but Pandion continued to make weigh at 3 knots!! How is that even possible? The of course just as we got comfortable the wind shifted and we had to take everything down again. That's how it works. Lorca has been trolling a higher wind fishing lure and he just switched to a low speed lure so that's pretty much a guarantee that the wind will pick up.
The water is the most amazing color. I don't even know how to describe it. There is no Crayola equivalent. Not even in the 128 crayon box! There is very little swell out here and while I'd prefer to have more wind and a shorter passage (I am, thus far, more in favor of landfall than passage...but we'll see how it goes - I'm not so made our for the sea - my physiology just won't support it. Wonderful nonetheless) And, plugging along at this rate is fairly pleasant as long as the seas are mellow. We usually fire up the iron genny when we're this slow but we're used to the California coast which is rolly as hell most of the time and the sails take a terrible beating. So we weigh sail wear against motor wear n tear and usually firing up the motor wins. As grateful as we are for a good motor that pushes the old girl along at 8 knots, the noise is remarkably stressful. That constant auditory stimulation wears on us more than one would expect.
Sage was pretty blue yesterday - worried about being bored stiff on passage. It takes a lot to make Sage blue - she's such a bright little thing. But she woke this morning perky as can be. She is currently playing "set" with Jared and he also just taught her to play "Kings in the corner") They're spending half the time playing and the other half the time terrorizing each other. Jared's playful spirit appeals greatly to my little imp of a daughter. Sage is beating Jared at set - it's a cruel game that was clearly designed for the benefit of the youthful mind - we old folks have trouble with pattern recognition.. Jared is trying to distract her by yelling out things like, "DOLPHINS! QUICK! LOOK!" Little does he know that I've tried that one on her many times and she just won't fall for it. Tis sweet, though, that the girl has a few things she's better at than we.
It was pretty hot this morning and the sun wasn't high in the sky yet so it was beating down on us. Sage wanted to swim so I filled up a ten gallon bucket and told her that was the best I would do unless she wanted me to tie a line to her and throw her over. She chose the bucket and she had a blast playing in a bucket of water. You raise a kid out in the boonies and without TV and electronics they learn how to have fun with the simplest of things.
Yesterday was an amazing sailing day. We had a perfect down wind run making 9 knots average with dual headsails out - divine. We lost our wind at Cobo San Lucas and have been creeping along ever since. Motor on at 11PM, motor off around 4AM. Creeping along ever since.
When we first pulled out of Los Frailes, our friends aboard "Sockdolager" a 24 foot Pacific Seacraft were heading to Los Cabos to provision for a last time before they take off across the Greaet Pacific. Can you imagine crossing in a 24 foot boat? The PS 24 is a hearty, stalwart little boat. They're made for the ocean. The crew of Sockdolager have taken very good care of her. She looked so beautiful running wing and wing with her tanbark sails. She's a hunter green hull and all green canvas and is a pleasure to take in visually. I can't say I'd like to sail on her - being the wuss I am at sea. We were actually intrigued by small boat for awhile. We looked at a PS 27 -they're such lovely boats. I got motion sick *at the dock*. Is that not ridiculous? Anyway, on our way out of Frailes, we took pictures of each other and will connect in French Poly to exchange them. (DOLPHINS! for real - not just Jared bluffing) We just had dolphins jumping and thrashing - clearly fishing and chasing up a bait ball. So darn cool!
Hopefully we'll be in the trade-winds soon and then the real, super king-sized pleasurable sailing begins. YAY!!
Our biggest sin of the day: At guac-o'clock we were not, in fact, eating my killer homemade guacamole so there was a mad rush to get it done and get it et. And now the Cap'n is complaining because his belly is too much full of my killer guac. Ain't no such thing far as I'm concerned. That's like saying you're too full of maguro sashimi and chocolate cake.
10PM PST. I'm a night owl. And, the middle of the night, our second day out, I start to feel human again. This passage, so far has been ultra mellow and I've not suffered too badly. But, per usual, I'm feeling loads better than I did when we started out on Saturday. I think that means that it's almost Monday...right? My watch is usually 8PM to 3AM. Most people will cringe reading this...but I LOVE it. I've always been in awe of the night sky - so much more than the day. The moon is yet to rise and the stars, out here on the ocean, far, far from land with nothing in sight but deep blue water, the sky and the stars leaves me feeling more alive than any other part of the day. The air is so perfect - thick with the smell of the water; warm and cool at the same time and if I lie on my back in the cockpit and look up at the sails and sky I feel so very small under the vast sky and on top of the not as vast ocean. It's quite a feeling. I feel somewhat the same when I'm off camping (not in a campground) with my dog, some trail mix and dog food, water and sleeping bag, but here, it's far more intense. It's a delicious, sultry feeling and one that I enjoy even more when I'm all alone on watch. Jared offered to take the night watch from 8PM - 12 AM but I couldn't sleep and he was nodding off so, her I am, so in love with all of this. The radar screen is clear, I have a huge thermos of piping hot tea and we're likely only about 80 miles from the start of the trade winds where Pandion will do what she does best. I love my boat.
My 20 minute timer just went off signaling time to search the horizon for any navigational hazards, check the radar and check any AIS targets. I checked the starboard side: all clear. When I was crossing the cockpit to check to port a giant orange eye was staring right at me! The moon was rising on the horizon. It is the most amazing orange you've ever seen and it's rising so quickly just as Jupiter is setting (and is also an orange hue.) The bioluminescence is interesting in the part of the ocean. Rather than being a collective green that was what we saw on the coast and in Baja, the luminescing critters are really big and there are fewer of them. So what I'm seeing are these great green dots and specks in the water. It's very odd and very beautiful.