04/28/2011, Out on the ocean
We're in the home stretch for the equator. It's been a long tough 19 days but were only about 40 miles from it. Last night, we hoisted the main and forestaysail in 15-17 knots of wind out of the Southeast and took off slowly at about 3 knots through the night. That's 3 knots if we were lucky. Don't know if there was a current holding us back or what but there was just no way to get much more out of Zephyr. We were closed hauled(wind coming over the port bow side at about 50 degrees to the wind. Not the fastest point of sail any way you look at it. By 1000 this AM we started up the engine to not only recharge the batteries but to engage the transmission and try and get somewhere. We only made 65 miles in the last 24 hours and that is the worst day we have had since we left by far. At the rate we were going, we wouldn't make the equator till sometime tomorrow morning. With the engine running, we can make 5 to 7 knots and we should arrive at the equator about 2000 hours(about 8:00PM pdt). At that time of day, we're not sure how much partying we will be doing other than recite a verse to Neptune welcoming us over the magical line of the equator making us "Shellbacks". Now we just have to find a tattoo place to mark us as having done it(yeah, right).
We're currently at 00 45.434N 130 30.481W on a course of about 180T. We've made 2291 miles since we left and once we get to the equator, we'll change course to more of 220 degrees and put up the spinnaker tomorrow AM and take off. If the winds we have now continue, which we believe they will, we will make good time traveling down wind with that sail. Heck, it's as big as our first house!!
We finally opened up he stern cabin for the kids and they seem happy about that though they don't spend much time back there. Most times either in their thrones(cat tree we smuggled aboard three years ago) or sleeping on the floor over one of the water tanks as it's cooler there. Blue goes out on occasion to see what is going on but doesn't stay long and we make sure she is either watched or the screen door is put in so she has to stay inside. Even with the netting we have on the lifelines, we don't want to take a chance of loosing either of them overboard. They wouldn't last long in the rolling swells we've had around Zephyr this trip.
Many of the boats that left the same time we did are now arriving at the Marquesas. They took a faster route and had full use of their sails. We lost the use of our big Genoa sail the third day and there hasn't been a safe day to go up the mast to fix it. So we make due the best we can with what we have and push on. The goal is now in sight!!!
Tracy's two cents: Last night was the best we have had for star gazing. I think I've found the Southern Cross, at least it is the only constellation that even remotely looks like a cross. It is at 180 degrees and is fairly bright. The Big Dipper is still visible in the Northern Hemisphere, so it is fun to view them both during night watches.
I haven't felt up to snuff today, don't know why, just off, maybe sleep depravation is finally getting to me. Heaven knows there aren't any germs out here. I think I'm going to take out two preprepared meals from the grocery in the US and stick them in the microwave tonight and take the night off. Sounds good to me.
Not much to add, just looking forward to crossing the Line. I almost expect there to be a big red line in the ocean! I think we'll make crowns out of foil and do our crossing ceremony, offer Neptune his due, take a glass for ourselves then hit the sack for an hour or two.
No waves while we were traveling so slowly, so no suicides last night.
04/27/2011, Out on the ocean
We motored through the night again as the winds died about sunset and a few showers came by for fun and to keep our decks clean. We'd flown the spinnaker since early AM and even it had trouble staying filled in the light air so it dipped into the Pacifics water regularly. About sunset, we took it down and started up the motor and did what we had to do to make our way South. She purred and rumbled through the night. During the night, we passed the last way point our weather person had told us to head for. His last call was to head for the Marquesas from that way point which is what we did this morning. His forecast for us didn't make it yesterday as promised. This morning, we finally got the update and it now told us to head straight south on the 130W longitude line. We were past it so we had to turn upwind and are still trying to make it back to it.
Over night, the winds and swells have changed so that both are now coming out of the South or Southeast. We've made it through the ITCZ but not to the equator yet. It's still about 100 miles. At our current speed, another day and a half. We may have winds but not in the right direction so we may have to tack back and forth to get there. Once there, the weather guru says to THEN head for the Marquesas. We made 124 miles in the last 24 and are now at 2226 total since we left La Cruz so many days ago. Our location is Latitude 01 45.891N Longitude 130 30.830W. We figure a good 8 to 9 days till we make it to the islands. Now all we have to do is figure out what island of the Marquesas we will hit.
Last night, Tracy took Johnsonville Brats and took off the skins and fried them up in a pan and served them on a tortilla with some dijon mustard. YUMMY!!! Last night, I had the double shift from 1900 to 2300 and 0300 to 0700. Tonight, we will switch the shifts so we each get a better night sleep every other night. It helps. It's get tough to try and sleep after the 0300 to 0700 shift as the Sun is coming up and once you've had breakfast, getting back to sleep can be hard and taking naps during the day adds to the challenge of the trip. While we haven't seen any signs of a ship out here since day 3, we still have to watch just in case. Heck, we haven't seen even a jet or one of their contrails telling us some one has passed us by. We are in a world all to ourselves out here.
Tracy's two cents:
Well, I now know how "water glass" got it's name, that is exactly what the ocean looks like. Shiny, rippley and very glassy. There is a 10kt. breeze it says, but we are only doing 1.5kts. This is going to drive me nuts. I'm all for putting the engine to work and getting us into the SE tradewinds. We still don't have the genoa fixed, so upwind sailing is painfully slow, so we can't go too much farther west as we would miss the Marquesas on route to who knows where.
Blue has been exceedingly huggy over the past 12 hours. Last night, she came up to the screen in the companionway and demanded almost panicky, so I let out with me on my watch, she just wanted to be held in my lap and be stroked. Next Snowshoe got the vibe and started crying at the screen, but when I raised it, he wouldn't come out, then he just went back down stairs. It was strange last night, the air felt different, it smelled different, Lots of clouds and mist and just the stuff to let your imagination get the best of you. Our friends on Periclees had said they saw what appeared to be an abandoned 50' fishing vessel from the 1930's just drifting out here and since I couldn't see anything I was just sure we were going to find it the hard way. I eventually went downstairs and got out our FLIR thermal imaging system to scope out in front of us every couple of miles. Reassuring to not see a derelict boat in front of us. This morning when I got up for my watch it looked like we were in a dome, all the way around the rim were storms with pouring rain, We were in the middle with no rain. Just really weird. I'll be glad to get out of here.
04/26/2011, Out on the ocean
We finally shut off the motor about 1000 after a good 30+ hours of running her. Just about no wind out here till mid morning and that came with a couple of squalls that then took the wind away. We've got about 2.5 knots of wind as I type this and the spinnaker is up grabbing what it can. It's not going to be a fast day for sure. We were lucky to do 120 in the last 24 because we were using the motor. It's hot and humid today like most days. I got a shower this AM(I think my second since we left) and I was still sweating like a pig before I could get up on deck to take advantage of what wind there was to dry off. Squalls came about an hour later and I just sat there in my skivies let it soak me and cool me down. We're at Lat 03 39.389N 129 56.736W on a course due south(180 degrees) making our way toward the equator. Our weather router will be forwarding a new forecast for what to expect once we get down to 02 degrees N. He'll tell us at what angle to cross over the equator so that we can avoid the bad weather that lives down there.
Both the kids re sleeping on the floor since Zephyr is still rocking back and forth. Plus, I'm sure it's a bit cooler for them. They are literally side by side. A sight we don't see often. Blue must be really hot to allow him to be that close.
We switched watches last night so I could get a bit more sleep. Tracy took the 1900 to 2300 shift and I took the 2300 to 0300 shift and then Tracy came back on for the 0300 to 0700 shift. I got a nice bit of extra sleep with the Sun down. Now the engine was running so it sounded like there was a freight train right below me but I got used to it after a while and drifted off to sleep.
Tracy's two cents:
I finished listening to S is for Silence. It helps to make the time pass fairly quick. Around 0530 I was really feeling the different night watch shift I was on and had to put some tunes on and sing my heart out to stay awake. I'm glad the engine was on to cover up by lack of knowing all the words.
It is getting to be time to dig out the bottle of Frexinet Brut that we bought in Puerto Vallarta to commemorate our becoming shellback when we cross the Equator. I'm trying to come up with a little ceremony, somewhat traditional like the bucket of salt water over the head and dressing up in costume, usually King Neptune and a mermaid...hmmm, that will be interesting. I also want to bake a pineapple upside down cake, I'm just not looking forward to the added heat.
The heat in the cabin is 90.3 degrees, so we can tell we are getting close to the Equator. The poor cats just look hot and they are lying on top of the water tanks, where it might be slightly cooler. I'm sure they would like to unzip their fur coats.
It is nice to have quiet again on the boat. The spinnaker is so colorful and fun to watch at it picks up what little breeze there is . It is a good time to let the trip sink in, I guess we had better start up those French lessons we got from Itunes. I'm counting on those French classes in Jr High, High and College to come back by osmosis. At least I'm hopeful.
I dug out a pack of brats that I'm going to take out of their casings and cook then put it onto a tortilla with deli mustard. I think I can handle that! We are slowly running out of fresh food in the veg department. I still have a baby watermelon that has lasted and lasted, let's hope it is good on the inside, the outside looks fine.
Only one squid on the deck this morning, very few waves, so no flying fish to be seen. No shark fins, no whales, no dolphin, just lots of blue.
04/25/2011, Out on the ocean
Oh what a 24 hours it has been. Kept blowing through the afternoon. Started with some sprinkles about 2230 and really cut loose about 0200. We took down the mainsail(sure can get wet out there) and started the engine as the wind had died to just about 0. Headed off farther south on a course of 180T. We're currently at Lat 05 37.175N 129 53 622W as of 1300PDT. We covered 116 miles in the last 24 hours. The engine is still running and we slowly move southward into the ITCZ with all the fun it provides. At least our decks are nice and clean. More squalls appear to be coming as there is no blue sky out there at all. Meanwhile, we sit in the cockpit in our foul weather gear getting ready for it. I sprayed water proofing on the dodger before we set off and I'm glad we did. It didn't seal up everything but it has made the cockpit more livable. We zipped on the side panels each night so no matter where the wind comes from, we are a bit more secure. I hate running the engine but some times you got to do what you got to do. It at least allows us to run with the swells so we make some miles during the day. Zephyr has big tanks so there is no problem running it when we need to. With luck, the winds will come back later and we can hoist the sail again.
Tracy's two cents: I never knew that rain, Biblical rain, can find it's way into everything! The cockpit is drier than outside, but it feels like you're in a leaky tent during a rain storm. The seas get confused and the sailing got harder and harder last night, so I woke Bill up and had him help me get the main down. I also saw that the first reef line had been chewed through with chafe and the main was billowing in the swell and what wind we had, so down it had to come NOW. Life is anything but boring out here, something happening all the time, sometimes, something beautiful, sometimes something getting broken..So on we go...
I've given up on cooking anything resembling a real meal. Last night I heated up so Zatarain's Dirty Rice and made a Waldorf salad. Bill ate the rice, I ate the salad. Today, I woke up at 11:15 a.m. and had a craving for quesadillas, so out comes a pack of tortillas and a block of monterey jack with jalapeno and voila, a one pan meal. It felt good in the stomach with so much rain.
It isn't a cold rain, I'm sure the air temp of 84 degrees is the same as the rain, but after getting wet with all the leaks in the bimini cover, it felt cooler. The water temp is 80.6. Too bad we can't swim in it, huh?
I'm really looking forward to being able to make a proper meal without needing four extra hands to hold everything into place. Yesterday, a half tomato I set down slide back and forth over the refrigerator leaving seeds and juice in it's wake. UGH...Gone are the niceties of plates, if I can get it into the cockpit wrapped in a paper towel, so much the better!
I'm starting to feel like the kid in the backseat of a car on a trip, "Are we there yet?" Then I realize that we have 10 more days.
Flying fish suicide rate: 6 Squid suicide rate: 2
04/24/2011, Out on the ocean
More of the same out here. Getting knocked around all the time with the winds from the Northeast and the swells from the North. We had winds up to 34 knots during the night and they are keeping steady in the high teens to low 20's ever since. We still have up jut a reefed main and our forestaysail and still are making great time having done 143 miles in the last 24 hours. That puts us up to 1866 miles total. We're on a course of about 260 and should hit the 06N 130W coordinates that our weather router wants us to get to before we head south about sundown today. So we'll change course and make for the equator. Not sure how many more days till we get there. Maybe three more. Guess we will find out when we gybe. We're currently at 06 57.14N 129 18.58W doing anywhere from 5.5 to 7+ depending on the swells that pass under us. Some are so high that when we are in the valley between them, all you see is a wall of water. Then Zephyr rides up the side of the swell and we are on top of a mountain of water. At least for a few seconds. This goes on all day and all night. Weather continues to be decent. The boats that went faster than us have run into far more squalls than we have. So far, only one big one and one small one so that's not too bad. I guess we will be getting more the closer we get to the equator. Snowshoe has wedged himself in behind our nav computer and the SSB radio so he's at a better angle when the swells roll through. Blue is up in her throne. She came outside last night and promptly went under a tarp that Tracy had bungied to the stern deck. We'd opened the hatch on the stern to try and get some fresh air into the stern berth so sleeping would be better. Well. Blue saw the hatch was open and just jumped on the screen and went right on going straight into the cabin. We've closed off the stern cabin to the kids just incase they get mad at us and start leaving us little presents in the berth. With so may miles to go, we don't want to have a berth that is unsleepable due to an unpleasant aroma if you get the jist of my words.
Most of the boats that left with us have already crossed the equator but that's alright. We will get there in our own time. No real reason to rush as long as we keep doing what we are doing and stay safe while we are doing it.
Tracy's two cents: One day blends into the next, not much going on different. Last night I heard a "BANG", I knew exactly what it was...the replacement block on the boom vang exploded again. It was a lighter block than the first one, so I knew it was only a matter of time before it went too. So, on the deck it stayed until this morning. We took the block totally out of the equation and attached the Spectra line that Brion Toss and Gordon, the riggers, put on. Shortened the line and reattached all, we see if this holds together, I hope so, not sure what else to do at this point. Going without isn't a viable option, the vang is what holds the boom down on a downwind run like we've been on for weeks now.
Bill made water earlier, we we have more than enough.
Lunch was a really simple affair, a tortilla with a slice of deli ham, cut up cheddar cheese, a small slice of tomato (our last one), chopped up cabbage with oregano, salt, pepper and a stripe of mayonnaise. I say a stripe because the Mexican mayo comes in pouches with a nozzle to squeeze the product out, really handy all in all and it takes up lots less space in the refrigerator. I think for dinner we will be having Waldorf salad and use up a couple of the apples we have in the bilge storage. That won't be too difficult to put together whilst being tossed back and forth.
04/23/2011, Out on the ocean
We've just completed our first two weeks at sea having covered 1723 nautical miles out of the approximately 3000 to get us to the Marquesas. Our weather router has us going just about due west till we hit a longitude of 130W before we start heading South to the equator. It's about 36 hours before we get to that point. We're currently at 07 22.667N 127 00.636W on a course of 250 T making about 5 to 6 knots depending on what face of the swells we are on. We made 135 nautical miles in the last 24 hours so we are just zipping right along. Still making(on average) 5.1 knots per hour so I can't complain. According to our chart plotter, we have been moving 337 hours 55 minutes since we left La Cruz with probably a good 10 to 12 days left before we get to the islands. Not bad for such a heavy boat with one on it's primary sails not being able to be used. I'm still waiting for the calm seas the weather man promised me so I can get up the mast safely. Each day it gets warmer and we won't even discuss the humidity. Tracy has a nice bit of sunburn since she started wearing sleeveless shirts. A nice bit of burn that will take a while to heal.
To continue my post from yesterday, another important piece of equipment we have on board is our DuoGen. This makes our electricity to keep all of Zephyr's systems up and running. I've commented before on it with not the most glowing reports when used as a wind generator. As a drag behind the boat electric power generator, it's amazing. It's kept all our house batteries full so that we never lack for power to run what we need to run. Now we don't have the expensive systems like many boats but we do have a refrigerator/freezer that requires a bit of power to run as well as our chart plotters and computers that we need. Plus, we need a good bit of power for transmitting on our SSB radio several times a day. Add in running lights as well as other necessities and the DuoGen does the job. Google it to see more about it. Wind, not so good. Drag in the water--very good.
Tracy's two cents: We have been on the same tack for a day and a half and I'm so ready to be on a more gentle one. The waves are from the NE, but the swell is from the North. We ride up and over most, but every couple of minutes we get a side rocking that is most uncomfortable. I haven't gotten any real sleep for over twenty four hours.
The clouds have left us and the sunny blue skies are a beautiful contrast to the dark blue ocean and frothy white tops on some of the waves. It is really wonderful despite the wave action. I was looking out over the water and saw a whale, small one about three wave sets over. He or she just kept on going, then about a half hour later what I thought were dolphins riding the front of a wave came to within 50' of the boat. They weren't dolphins, but pilot whales. Three of the gliding down the faces of the waves, I got a picture, but we'll see what it looks like when it gets uploaded into the computer. I was beginning to think flying fish and squid were the only living things out here.
Flying fish :3 Squid:2, one we have to pick off our mainsail, ugh.