28 April 2012 | Passage to Marquesas
Today was a stellar sailing day. It was sunny with calmish seas & good wind for a pretty smooth ride all day. We caught a small mahi which will make a great dinner for tomorrow night. I made a batch of granola since getting cereal down here is practically impossible- it's better to carry the fixings to make your own. On the morning rounds of the deck, the kill for today was 18 flying fish (they are very small) and 3 squid. You could tell it was windy last night! Jon finished yet another book and I made some progress on planning our stops in the coming weeks. We'll have 90 days for French Polynesia which is a shame since it covers a huge area and there is lots to see. There are also lots of miles to sail to move between the islands. Once we check in to the Marquesas, we'll have 30 days to get to Tahiti and check in again to get another 60 days. But it is several hundred miles to get there so we'll have to factor in that passage making time. We tried to get a visa extension while in Panama but they said we needed to have at least 2 months to get it done so it was impossible to get one. Oh well.
I've gotten in the habit of reading the travel logs from our friends Mark &Judy who completed their circumnavigation this year. Judy diligently kept a daily blog for every day of their 5 Â½ year journey and Judy was kind enough to give me a copy of all those logs. Now I have my own special cruising guide to refer to and it even includes all of their experiences on passages too. It is really interesting to read and helps me anticipate what lies ahead too!
Yesterday was a mixed bag. It was another fluffy white cloud beautiful day with nice wind. We rummaged around for our old fishing stuff and found some really yummy lures we'd forgotten we had. Mind you, these were dragged all over the NW Caribbean with no luck but put this baby in the water here and voila, not one, not two, but 3 fish! Two nice sized mahi and one small tuna which came just in time for lunch so I made fish tacos. We're really getting in to the wasabi mayo I got at Trader Joe's. I have the makings for sushi rolls but would need more time, not on a rolling boat to make that. The lure is a blue chugger for all you fish enthusiasts. After the 3rd fish, we were pretty tired of fishing for the day! You see, when the reel starts whirring, we have to rush to pull in the jib to slow the boat down, then I dig out the gaff, knife, cutting board, alcohol, bucket,etc. while Jon goes up on deck to reel the fish in. Then I hold the reel and do the final pulling in while he readies the gaff and pulls it on deck. Then he cleans it, the deck, I go below and take care of the fish, we put all the stuff away, pull out the jib gain, put out the line again and then a little while later the process starts all over again. During the day, we don't really have that much free time with all of our chores to keep this boat rolling and ourselves tended to so it does put a din our routine after awhile! Anyway, I made a broiled Mediterranean fish recipe for dinner, served it over polenta with coleslaw and it was really good. While we're talking dinners, I took out some salisbury steak that I'd frozen a while back for an easy dinner on passage and we had that the night before w/mashed potatoes & an eggplant side dish that my mom gave me the recipe for. So the grub on Evergreen is still good!
So around 5:30 pm, the wind shifted more out of the east and we had to steer more south which we didn't want to do because we don't have many degrees of southing to do compared to the westing we need to do and also because we've been riding a fair current. And then the autopilot broke. No surprise there. You'd never know that Jon spent innumerable hours putting this thing together hoping it would be more robust than our previous one & therefore up to the task of steering this boat trouble free but it hasn't worked out that way at all. Anyway, we engaged the windvane and tried to refresh our memory on how to use it properly and it is steering us now. It really is a miraculous instrument but it is definitely more hands on. It steers to the wind so you are not just punching in a compass heading and it doesn't work if there is no wind. So if it gets real light, we'll have to use the other backup autopilot which is really hands on too since it uses the windvane's paddle in the stern and it isn't set up like a regular autopilot with a correct compass. Anyway, will cross that bridge a little later, but probably not that much later. The southing we've had to do could have affected our fair current or the lighter wind, or something- but whatever the case, our speed has gone down by about a half knot too so that is annoying. For the windvane, the boat has to be really well balanced under sail so that it practically sails itself except for minor corrections from the windvane. Well this presents a challenge in seas and also since our boat has a barn door rudder with a fair amount of resistance at the help to begin with. Anyway, it is going OK and although we're bummed about the pilot, we knew it would happen and now we just have to figure out if we can get the parts we need brought in to Tahiti or not. We'll still have 4,000 more miles to cover to get to NZ since you add miles when you move between French Polynesia to Samoa, to Tonga, etc so we will want to get this pilot going again. Our friend Tim on Slick has his brother coming to visit him sometime in June in possibly Tahiti, so maybe that could work.
So we are doing the Coconut Milk Run as it is called and it's a popular way to explore the South Pacific in what is usually downwind, good sailing. It allows you to stay in the tropics and explore those islands with names like Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, Samoa, Tonga- all of those places we've been dreaming about seeing. Plus you do it in the company of many other boats. We should be able to sail to all of them in the coming months before we need to head out of the tropics to New Zealand for cyclone season.
Well, will send this off for Charlie to post. I've heard that once we get in the vicinity of the Marquesas, the distances to transmit emails are really huge so we may have trouble connecting. That might mean we send less emails so for anyone who equates these postings with our well being, fear not, this might be the reason!