05/05/2011, Out on the ocean
This should be our last day out on this portion of our voyage. We covered another 120 miles in the last 24 hours and are now at 07 59.779S 128 21.844W on a course of 241T making about 6 knots in the continuing lumpy seas. We've had another day of no rain and that is just fine though there are lots of clouds around as the day passes. More birds appear over the last day or so as we get closer to shore but fewer flying fish and squid landing on the deck. There are still lots of flying fish, these just appear to be smarter than what we experienced earlier in the voyage. We are both looking forward to finally getting into a harbor where we can drop our anchor and relax without the continual sound and motion that we have experienced since we left so many days ago.
I have sent an email to our agent in the Marquesas as to how to proceed once we get into the harbor so we will see what she sends back. Getting in about 1300 tomorrow at least by our boat time though the Marquesas are about 1:30 minutes earlier than the time frame we have on board at this moment. For some reason, and we don't know why, their clocks run 30 minutes off what the rest of the world has as a time frame. We'll find out tomorrow and let you know what the actual time is out here. We're currently set up at UTC-8 hours or it's like we are in Anchorage, Alaska time. Given the time we get in, we may have to wait till Saturday to get checked in. We're not sure of their hours. Guess we will find out tomorrow.
Tracy's two cents: Another gorgeous day on the high seas. I hope I never forget the blue of the water, so beautiful. As Bill was writing his portion of the blog, I was out in the cockpit looking out over the water and there is some sort of fish that keeps on jumping out of the water. It's about a foot long, not tuna shaped, just what you would think of as fish shape. They are swimming just under the water then dart away, then come back up and start jumping again. I'm tempted to put a drag line out and have fish tacos for dinner, but the seas are so lumpy that getting it filleted would be really challenging.
It is hard to believe that we will be at anchor in 24 hours. A nice long nap...although I haven't been having a problem getting to sleep at the drop of a hat anymore. My body has adjusted to the four and three hour shifts that we have had to learn.
I wonder how far away we will be able to see land, probably only about 30 to 50 miles. I'm sure the cats are looking forward to less movement although they have really adapted well, especially Blue. Rocking boat? What stinking rocking boat?! Snowshoe, on the other hand, not so much. I think a lot of his problem is the wad of fur on his feet and he slides around a good bit, so he sleeps a good bit in the cat tree and in the food cubby behind the starboard settee.
You know the French lessons we were going to do all the way over? Never opened the program on the computer, so Jr. High, High School and College French is going to have to do, hopefully our brains have retained enough to order food and ask where different things are. If we can order beer, some french bread and find a bathroom all is well.
More after we anchor at Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia. I just love how that sounds, don't you?
05/04/2011, Out on the ocean
As each day passes, we get closer to our destination of the Marquesas Islands. We have 232 nautical miles left having covered 124 yesterday. We're currently located at 06 55.179S 136 46.861W moving along at anywhere from 4.5 to 6 knots in the continual rolly seas we have experienced for the last many days. Calm seas? Not out here. There is always a roll. It just depends on how you want to take it on your boat. Since we are heading Southwest with the winds coming out of the East, the swells are following right along the track with it. As I have written before, you don't move around the boat without holding on to something. I have the bruises to prove it having taken several big tumbles.
Last night was a quiet night with no rain but continual winds pushing us along our way. We sighted the first ship we have seen since I think day 3 out here. I was on watch and saw what appeared to be a bright star on the horizon. With no Moon, it get plenty dark out here. It seems just a bit to bright, so I kept track of it. About 15 minutes later, it suddenly had lots of lights on it. I went below and grabbed a VHF radio to try and make contact to make sure they could see us on their radar. I also turned on the light on the top of our mast. Hey, every little bit helps. I tried calling them several times with no response. As I watched, the ship slowly turned slightly(at least I think it turned) and passed us off the starboard side a couple of miles away. Out here, that's plenty close enough especially at night. It's really hard to tell which end is which as you watch them come at you. Binoculars make little difference as you roll back and forth in the water. By the time Tracy came on watch at 0300, the ship was nicely behind us and that's a good place for it to be. I'd much rather see them in the daytime than in the blackness of night.
Other than that, we are moving right along with another of the boats in the Puddle Jump about 60 miles off our Port side. We tune into the net to see where everyone is this this batch of crossers. SV Don Quixote is the current net manager and is doing a great job. They even offer a service that if you don't check in in 48 hours, they will notify the Coast Guard for assistance. Most of us(being the independent sorts we are opted out of that coverage. There are some nights when it just might be to crazy on board to connect to the net or the reception might be lousy. We've had both along this trip.
We have the engine running now charging the batteries as we are just no going fast enough of the DuoGen to make enough power for our needs. In the last few days, it's power output has dropped greatly. I even pulled it up out of the water and sprayed it with fresh water to get the salt off it and lubed it with WD-40. So far, no improvement. I guess I'll just have to add it to the list of things that need attention once we get into the anchorage. Tracy's two cents:
I think it is just now soaking into my brain that we are really only two days from landfall. I've heard that you can smell the islands about a 100 miles out. We'll see. I know they have lots of flowers, but....
It's sort of been SSDD out here. Lots of blue skies, blue water and a couple of dead flying fish on deck, this time the wee little ones. Oh, we had a small pod of dolphins come and visit this morning. They spent about an hour surfing the swells around us and crossing over in front of us again and again. They are always fun to watch. These have cute little white patch on the tip of their snout. They are smallish compared to the Sea of Cortez dolphins.
Just think in 48 hours we should be at anchor! We have a lot of cleaning up to do...there's lots of foul weather gear, cushions, lightweight jackets etc. to put away. It take long, but it is too hard to move around on the boat with all the swell action.,
I made a salad of sorts for lunch with chicken, pineapple, onion, a jalapeno and an Asian style dressing that I concocted. It was something different and right now I'm ready for something different.
05/03/2011, Out on the ocean
At the speed we are going, we should be at the islands by early Friday morning. We racked up another 131 miles and have hit 2842 since we left 24 days ago. We're now at 05 50.889S 135 08.416W on a course of 237T with nice winds(17 knots) over the port stern quarter of the boat. It's pushing us along quite nicely. We've even hit over 9 knots during one nice ride.
One thing we have found, not that we didn't already know, was that Zephyrs decks leak like there were holes drilled though them. Since we have been on this port tack, the space above the tool cabinet leaks down on everything that is on the workbench and then onto the floor. I have to put a cover over the computer on the nav station to make sure it stays dry. We take an occasional wave over the side but the rains over the last few days have really brought it home that we have a problem. It's leaked ever since we bought Zephyr but not to these proportions. I guess it's time to pull out the caulk guns and try and close up some of the gaps between the teak planks. It's like I have said before, we get to these places that look so pretty only to spend most of our time fixing things. This trip, we have been lucky(I think) in what has gone wrong. OK, we lost the use of our genoa sail about the third day out having had the top bearing yanked out by the spinnaker halyard. An easy fix once I can get up the mast. We may have lost the use of our spinnaker having found a nut on deck that I think holds the bracket to he top of the mast for it. Again, we won't know till I get up there. When we took down the forestaysail on the third day, I found the halyard(rope that pulls the sail up)was VERY chafed about 3 feet above where it attaches to the sail. All I can think of is that when the sail was first raised, the halyard was over the top of the metal forestay that the sail attaches to. I took out some duct tape and put two covering over where the chafe was and have inspected it regularly ever since(found no more chafe). The "start" batteries for the engine need replacing as they don't hold a charge well. Alright, we start the engine once a day and let it run for an hour or so to top them off. Since we started doing that, no more problems plus it also charges the main battery bank at the same time. Two blocks on our boom vang (holds the boom in a more or less horizontal position) exploded during the trip so far. We simply took them off and remounted the rig a bit differently and it will be fine till we get to the islands. We've heard that many boats have had problems with their electronic autopilots. Since we are using a Hydrovane, it requires no electricity and has done a beautiful job. It's steered Zephyr about 95 % of the trip. Maybe not in the straightest of lines but it allows us to sit back and relax a bit as we go up and over the constant swells we have faced since we left Mexico. Having to rely on an electronic autopilot invites problems plus you have to run your generator or engine to keep the batteries that it uses topped up. It take a tremendous amount of power to run them and they are notorious for breaking down. One boat out here carries 4 electronic autopilots just incase one dies. He can swap them out at a moments notice. Give me my Hydrovane any day!!
As we listened to the net last night of the remaining puddle jumpers, we heard of one catamaran losing the use of one of it's rudders(he'd just had it fixed in La Cruz) and another that has lost most of its battery power and is limping along. This is an endurance test of not only yourself but of the equipment you have on board. Another turned back several weeks ago due to an engine problem. Once fixed, they will start out again but they were well over 1,000 miles off the Mexico coast when the turned around.
And so the days pass. Some sunshine and some cloudy days. The cloud cover changes out here so fast that I can come down below with it being totally clear to type this and come back to total overcast skies.
Tracy's two cents:
I've been getting extra sleep, instead of staying up in the cockpit during my off watch times, I've been coming down and getting 3hr. naps on the starboard settee. It is much more comfortable there than it is in the stern stateroom on our regular bed. Back there you feel like you are laying on a trampoline with someone jumping on it constantly.
The port tack we are on isn't the most comfortable right now as the swells plus windwaves are up to 8-10'. One really has to figure out where they are going to put their feet while moving around inside or out. We look like. drunken sailors and drunken kitties as we walk across the main salon.
I looked at the mileage we had left to go last night and realized that it was the same as the Denver to Albuquerque trip we made so often to see my parents over the years. We just need to crank up the turbo engines and sail at 75mph.instead of 5-6knots. We are now in Pueblo, Colorado on my imaginary trip to New Mexico. Pretty soon we will be in Walsenburg queing up to have lunch or dinner at one of the best hamburger and chocolate milk shake joints in Colorado. Hmmm, a cold, freezing milk shake, yum. Ok, ok, just let me hang on to my fantasy a little while longer.
05/02/2011, Out on the ocean
The winds have shifted enough that we can now make a more beeline course for the islands. We're now doing a course of 245T from 04 39.336S 133 25.488W with the wind over our port stern quarter. Still flying just the main sail and the forestaysail and they are doing just fine. We heard on the net(all us Puddle Jumpers that are left out here) yesterday evening that one boat lost the use of his mainsail when the headboard at the top of his sail ripped off the sail. Now he is faced with the same problem we have --going aloft and trying to get it back. They are unfortunately past any place where they might have a semi calm bit of water so they will have a slow time getting to the islands. If we had still had the use of our Genoa, we probably would have been there by today. It has really slowed us down not having that sail available.
Last night was full of squalls. When I came off watch at 2300, the skies had turned from starry to cloudy and by the time I came back on watch at 0300, Tracy had had at least 5 squalls pass in that time frame. During my time on deck, I had another 3-4. At least the decks are nice and clean.
We have about 460 miles to go and at our present rate, we hope to be at the islands by Friday afternoon. We did 116 miles over the last 24 hours and that seems to be about our average with this sail configuration. We've done 2711 so far so it's almost over. This has truly been one of the hardest things that we have ever done. It just continues 24 hours a day--day after day after day. If you are lucky, you might get 4 to 5 hours of any kind of sleep but even that is not quality sleep as you have to be ready to get up at a moments notice if there is any kind of problem on the boat. Once we get in and drop anchor, I know we will try and get some sleep, but I expect that to not come easily as we have to decompress from what we have been through for the last 28 days. We have some friends(Angus & Rolande) that got in a while ago and it took them a good week to get back to feeling regular. They are now cruising around the island of Nuku Hiva to see other harbors. We expect to see them when we get in this weekend.
So only four more night watches and then we can relax. This was truly a tough journey. If you have any questions about anything in specific, leave us a comment on the blog and I'll get back with you. Oh, by the way, internet in the Marquesas runs $5.00 per hour!!!
Tracy's two cents:
Wahoo, only 4 more night watches! Yeah....you would think we don't like night watches or something. They have there ups and downs. I love them when the seas are not restless and the skies are full of stars. I enjoy looking at all the constellations, the Southern Cross is awesome. I hate squall lines and washing machine seas. I don't particularly enjoy having to hold onto everything as you walk downstairs.
I think this passage has been much harder on Bill than it has on me, I can see him wear down day by day. Hopefully, several full night sleeps will get back into the groove.
I'm looking forward to: Fresh fruit, new cultures, actually being somewhere I've always dreamed about and stunningly clear water that is warm with more kinds of colorful fish than I can count.
I think once we are there for a while all the bad on this trip will go back into the recesses of our minds and only the good parts will remain. It has taken us longer, but it is hard on only two people to do. If I had it to do again, I think I would seriously think about getting two crew to help, that way you can have time to sleep and maybe function on a better level. We knew Zephyr wasn't a fast boat, but I think considering what we've been dealt, she doing just fine, creaking insides and all. Life could be much, much worse. I just didn't want to be eighty and be sitting there wishing I'd done this...at least now I can say we did it with no regret. Isn't that what life is about?
05/01/2011, Out on the ocean
A storm came through last night with a vengence. We had winds to 44 knots and boy it hit fast. We were lucky enough to have put a reef in the mainsail before it happened and that is what saved our sail. We were heeled over till the rail on the starboard side was in the water but we remained in control not loosing much of our momentum. This baby lasted about an hour and then two more came after it, both lesser storms(thank goodness). The rest of the night was about 12-15 knots of wind so we just marched along at 5 to 6 knots all through the night. We still have the reef in the main and expect to keep it there as we are still making good speed and headway toward the Marquesas. With luck, we will be there in 5 days, maybe 6 at the outside.
Let me tell you, none of the seminars tell you about how it is while you are out here. The constant and continual swells throwing you around. The wind comes and goes and you always hope for the best you can get to speed you on your way. I know that we have taken a longer route that others but it is what the weather router wanted us to stay on. Some that left the same day we did got there a few days ago. We'll end up doing about 3200 miles for the trip versus the projected 3000 we had thought. This voyage wears you down and you just can't wait for it to be over. I figure a good week at anchor in Nuku Hiva once we get there just to recover and try and fix the few things that need attention. There is now no way to get up to the top of the mast till we make landfall. We're in and have been in a washing machine on agitate for the last many days. Oh well, we just keep plodding along making the best speed we can.
We're currently at 03 12.651S 132 18.209W on a course of 228T having covered 126 miles in the last 24 hours and 2595 total. Our current speed is 5 to 6 knots with the wind out of the Southeast and the swells are running at 8 feet out of the east. We get closer each day.
Tracy's two cents:
While I was off watch trying to sleep, I'm suddenly plastered against what is usually a vertical wall at the head of the bed, I hear flying projectiles going across the room and crashing into the starboard wall. The clasp had come undone on "Bill's closet", the printer, tool cases, a gallon jug of distilled water, shoes, the list goes on and on. I tried my best at putting things back into the closet,as soon as I put them in they were flying right back out, but with me in their way this time. I did get the tool cases and printer put back in as well as the water, but that was it and the rest has a happy home on the floor until tomorrow. Right now, I just don't care.
Today's sail is wonderful, a beam reach with speeds around 6kts. It is hard to walk downstairs because we are heeled over, but for all intents and purposes it is comfortable. The ocean is a gorgeous shade of dark blue and the skies are mostly clear, very unlike yesterday, squall after squall, very tiring.
I'm starting to look forward to the sights when we get there and am reading up on what's what and where things are...I think I'm letting myself get excited. I don't think Bill is there yet.
Oh, Happy Rabbit Rabbit Day.
04/30/2011, Out on the ocean
It was three years ago that we moved aboard Zephyr in Newport, Oregon having to smuggle the cat tree down the dock in the night so people wouldn't laugh at us. Now three years later and well over 10,000 miles under her keel with us, we have learned a lot about boating. Boy were we green when we started. It's lucky we didn't kill ourselves that first year. Now in the three years, you have to throw out most of the first one as it was spent doing the refit on Zephyr. Then take out another 5 months last Summer when we had to go home to take care or our house. So out of the 36 months since we moved on board, we have actually been moving about 19 months of that time. We've covered as far North as Juneau, Alaska to where we are now, South of the Equator on our way to Tahiti. Not bad for two lake sailors. I can't tell you how much the two of us have learned in these past three years but the learning curve has been huge. Many boat owners spend years learning and upgrading their boats before setting off like we did. For much of the time, it was spent learning as we went, always fixing things that broke when we entered the next harbor or cove. We spent the first three months of this year in Nuevo Vallarta working almost nonstop on Zephyr and will be doing it again when we reach the Marquesas and Tahiti. If it's broken, it must be fixed before we set off again. That's what cruising is all about--fixing boats in exotic locations.
We're now at 01 23.363S 131 42.229W on a course of 193T after covering 90 miles yesterday. We tried the course our weather router had suggested but only we making maybe 2.5 knots. Tracy made an "executive decision" and changed it to a more southerly and we took off at a much better speed of 5.5 to 6 knots. We ran into some big storms during the afternoon with lots of wind(gusts to 37 knots) and rain. Today has been windy all day so we are still making good time. We'll need to start the engine in a few hours or so to top off the batteries for the night. Oh, the swells out side are now close to 12 feet as they come rolling under Zephyrs hull. In a valley and then on the top, It's up and down all day.
We're trying to get more naps as the day progresses. We'd both burned the candle at both ends over the last few days and nerves and emotions were getting a bit thin. So we are each getting as many naps as we can today so tonight will be a better night for us both.
Tracy's two cents:
The storms that Bill mentioned were unnerving for me. I, for whatever reason, had been on watch all day from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., then the storms hit, one after another after another. Unrelenting wind, rain and waves. The boat heeled over to over 45 degrees and let me tell you that is scary. I'll be the first to admit, that while big winds don't particularly scare me, heeling over that much does! Water starts to pour over the side and my imagination is a pretty active one. Add in the I'm exhausted factor, my stomach was in one giant knot. When I did a night watch last night, my eyes wouldn't focus on the wind gauge, which is my primary steering guide at night. I started to make mistakes, that was scary to me. James wasn't working particularly well and I was hand steering all of my shift. I was pretty low and nearly in tears...I knew I was in trouble. Thank goodness, Bill showed up for his night watch shift, I hit the sack and got some 40 winks After fours hours of sleep I felt much better to handle the next shift. I went on deck for two hours while Bill went down to get a much deserved rest, as he was just as exhausted as me, I'm sure. Today is a much better day. I've had a couple of hours sleep so far and am feeling more myself. I certainly hope the night storms don't happen again tonight....