04/28/2012, 1 Degrees North of Equator
Sleep, Eat, Watches/Keep Boat Moving, Reading, and Much Lively Conversation.
That's basically all there is to a day in the life on a small cruising boat. That's the blog for today :)
I put sleep first, as it seems you never can get enough, even though most nights you get 8 hours, except for the dog watch between midnight to 4am, the motion of the boat always has your body searching to find equalibrium, even as you sleep. It seems like when you get up, it felt like you just had fallen asleep--Nope, Hey Pete, it's your watch!! We've found to sneak in cat naps as much as possible, because you never know when you are going to be awoken in the night, that the boat needs a sail change, all hands on deck. Actually, nobody seems to be having any problems with getting up when it's their watch. The boat is big enough were there is plenty of room to catch some zzz's and catch up.
Eat. Should we BBQ steak with a red potato salad and a peach cobbler, or should we have Salmon on bed of couscous and brownies? We provisioned for 45+ days, not knowing what would be available in the Marquesas. The majority of the food in these islands comes in by ship maybe once a month, so you could get lucky, or that can of Spam may be it on the shelves when you arrive. We have heard that baquettes are available daily, but they go fast--Viva La France! Can't wait, as we are down to Tortillas with our peanut butter and jelly. after that, I guess a spoonful of each. The boat has a reefer, that is a combination fridge/freezer, but about total size of the freezer side of a double fridge. We have it packed to the brim, but are able to have most everything you would normally have at home. The jury is still out if you drop weight or gain it on passage, I'm going with the drop! We'll see. Pete has done a great job in the kitchen, making tasty meals and side dishes. Nobody has to worry, we ain't starvin out here, just the dilemma of what to have at the next meal, goat cheese omelette or French Toast from freshly baked raisin bread---Mmmm good!
Time for my watch, I'll continue the "daily life on passage" tomorrow John
04/27/2012, 3 Degrees North of Equator
Making a bit slower progress these last two days, the winds have lightened considerably. Then again after, racing along in 20-30 knots winds the other night everything seems slow. The equator is in sight, we've been seeing the signs, as we go, Latitude 4, Equator 240 miles, Latitude 3, Equator 180 miles. Always been curious, is there a big line in the ocean?. You would never know we are approaching 0 latitude by the weather. The evenings have actually been a bit cooler, though still in shorts and a tank top. The water temperature peaked at about 92 degrees, but now is down to a cool 90.7.
Last night we had a BBQ in the back yard. We Q'd up three nice steaks and complimented those with red potatoes in a chive butter sauce, along with a home made carrot salad Pete made, and of course a bottle of Cabernet--Mmmm good. Love BBQ'ing a 1000 miles from my real backyard.
It has been raining for the last 15 hours, so all our below catching up on reading, writing journals, emails......It has been coming down pretty good, out trusty helmsman, Passpartout, keeps us on course in the rain and wind, never complaining at all. They say this is called a monsoonal trough, feels like a monsoon. Boat has been dry below, a few little drips, but know worries. Most from the dampness is really coming from the tropical moisture in general.
When it isn't raining, the stars have been beautiful at night, even seeing some new constellations, but have yet to spot the Southern Cross. The big Dipper is getting lower and lower in the sky, the north star is not even visible anymore as it is just too low in the sky.
We have less than a 1000 miles to go, I think after we cross equator, we should be 5-7 days out depending on wind. We are already starting to layout the various islands we want to stop in the Marquesas group, will probably try 3-4. will fill you in as we research more.
04/25/2012, 6 Degrees North of Equator
We've missed the last few days to blog, as the weather deteriorated rather quickly. what we thought was the beginning of the ITCZ, was a trough of low pressure that brought lightning, winds to 35 knots, seas to 12 feet, and sleepless nights for all. The mainsail was dropped and the headsail was reefed to barely the size of a handkerchief to slow the boat down. The boat still managed to clock strong 7 and 8's throughout the day and night. The morning brought less winds, but the seas were still tossing Sherpa around pretty good.
Luckily, Passpartout, continues to steer us on course, but below decks through the night, gear was being tossed from one side of the boat to another. Those of us not on watch slept with one eye open, for a missile in the shape of a duffel bag or backpack.
The upside of our 36 hours of "weather", is we may miss the ITCZ entirely (which is a good thing), as the trough may just connect the NE trade directly to the SE trades, with no convection, lightning or unstable air. The ITCZ generally meanders around between 3N and 10N, but can't be predicted, especially for a slow moving sailboat.
You would think it would be pretty empty out here in this part of the Pacific, but we've spotted 2 ships, one looked to be a rusty old fishing boat about 75 feet or so, maybe from Mexico or some other Central American country. This morning Pete spotted another vessel, with all her lights on. I think it may have been a fish processing ship, but am only guessing.
Sea life has been plentiful, we have several birds that have been around for a 1000 miles, they feed on the flying fish that shoot out from the front of our bow. We think they are terns, albatross's and boobies. The booby has tried numerous times to hitch a ride on the top of the mast, but we have made it an undesirable spot, blowing the air horn. He got back at us though, a nice surprise he left on the canvas below. We've also spotted a sea turtle, long, long way from home.
We're about 400 miles or so from the equator and expect to cross it over the next few days. It should be a beam reach after that right into Hiva Oa, but we'll see, as other boats have reported light SE trades.
04/23/2012, 9 Degrees North of Equator
This last 24 hours has been like a ride at Disneyland, thank goodness not a coaster at Magic Mountain. The big headsail was pulled down as the squall lines appeared on the eastern horizon. NOAA weather had called for a trough of unstable air between 10-12 degrees N, and East of 125, which should have put us out of range, but these forecasts are like any other weather forecast, not perfect. So batten down the hatches, put on the foulies and bring it on!
Winds built to a steady 20-25 knots out of the NE, luckily we are on a broad reach, so the wind is at our stern, making for a fast downhill run. We clocked wind gusts of about 40, but didn't last long. These occurred as the squall lines moved through. Needless to say, nobody got a good nights rest, as we reefed down, let em out, and then did it all over again a few times. At one point the boat was sailing over 9 knots, which is way above its theoretical hull speed of about 7.5, definitely, surfing down the swells, Paul has that record, but Pete is right behind sailing at about 8.75 knots. I'm sure this will be our fastest 24 hour run to date, we've had one of 152, but this one could be closer to 160.
The decks finally got the bath they needed to wash all the salt that had accumulated since leaving Ventura. The rains went off and on through most of the night, down below has been dry for the most part, except for a few spots here and there. Now we just need some warm tropical sun to dry out our rain gear and towels.
Tomorrow we do the ITCZ dance. John
04/22/2012, 13 Degrees North of Equator
Just like at home, the chores never end. Maybe even more so on a cruising boat. Winds are light and seas are flat all day today, which is ideal to catch up on spiffing the boat up. The weather has turned to shorts and t-shirts weather from here on out, so all the warmer clothes and foul weather gear is packed away for the passage back north sometime in the future.
The water tanks were all topped off with the watermaker, produced about 50 gallons today. I guess since we can make water, with no issues to date, we continue our liberal use. That would all change if an issue arose with the system. For those considering a WM, my decision to go with 110V rather than DC I believe was a better choice. We make about 20 GPH, and a DC would be down around 7 GPH, and we still would need to run some form of engine, diesel/Honda. The Honda is definitely worth it's weight.
The stores are starting to recede a bit, we provisioned well, with the intent of possibly not being able to resupply until Papeete. After nearly two weeks of consumption, it is a little easier to find stuff, rather than rummaging around a locker for that missing box of rice or candy bar. Some previous cruisers have had issues with their reefer, we seem to have the opposite, everything is frozen. Not a bad problem to have, Maybe the thermo stat just isn't working proper;y, we have solved that by just manually tuning the thing off periodically.
Time to go, I'm on the midnight watch, so need to get back to my star gazing.
04/20/2012, Below latittude of Big Island--15N
The cloud cover broke this morning to the sound of the Penn reel buzzing with a fish strike (Thanks Chris C.). Quickly we slowed the boat down and proceeded to bring in our gift from the sea, a beautiful Bluefin tuna. Not too big, maybe 7-8 pounds which was a nice way to start, rather than hooking a billfish that we would have to let go along with the gear. We grilled up our prize for our daily sunset dinner, luckily Pete found the wasabi before we left, so we all had some sashimi for apps. The sunset this evening was the clearest we've had so far, not a cloud in the sky, and were even fortunate to see the green flash as the sun sunk into the western sky.
The passage is in a smooth routine now, 4 on, 8 off through the night, sunset dinners in the cockpit. Pete does the 8:30pm check in for Seafarers Net, updating our position and weather..........The water is now above 80 degrees, which has allowed the pants to come off and just shorts, tees, sunglasses and hats. I'm sure as we approach the equator, we will be wishing for some cloud cover and at least a cool evening.
The smaller working jib was switched out to the 135 now that the trades winds are a consistent 10-20, except for when the winds stay under 15, then the big Code Zero does all the work.
Passpartout, our tireless helmsman, continues to steer a steady course to our next waypoint, no complaints, no tiring, the perfect crew for that job. I don't think anyone would be up for steering a boat 24/7 on these long ocean passages.
Boat systems all seem to be running well, it'll be nice to have full days of sun in order for the solar to keep up with our energy consumption alone. Otherwise, we will either need to run the diesel or the generator to keep our batteries full. The wind generator isn't much use on the current point of sail, as the apparent wind is less than 10 knots, she needs that to really start producing anything.
Got go now, want to take in the the clear starry night.