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Time Bandit
Here today

Hee haw to report today! Just easing along in 12 knots. Fishing line out but true to form, no matter how much you spend on lures they don't seem that interesting to the fish. Maybe the Kinimishimaru or whatever it was called has hoovered them all up. I mean, just how many fish can you put in a fishing boat 175 feet long?

Close Encounters

Our clear, bright blazing day turned into a clear, starlit sky last night with "a million stars all around" (name that tune). We played with our Spot the Star app and put names to a few. Jupiter is the brightest with the Plough bright in the northern sky. The ones that confused us were the stars with additional red and green flashing lights. We had three of these across the horizon presumably launched by the 175 foot Kinimishimaru from Japan lighting up our northern horizon. One of the yachts said it's not unusual for the large offshore fishing vessels to have a spotter helicopter on board for tuna. But three? What doesn't make sense is why these things, helicopters or, more likely, drones, were aloft at night. And doing what? If anyone (mes enfants, par email) is near a Google engine it would be interesting to hear what it was. Aerial reconnaissance in the dark would only make sense if its thermal imaging for whale. But why the net?

We had the fishing vessel on AIS so we could see it in position 9 miles to the north of us. There was also a flashing bouy to the south, between us and the horizon so maybe 3 miles away. If the southern flashing light marked the end of the fishing net that would make the net 12 miles long. Why the Japanese are steaming 6,500 from home to fish is scary when we are just 2,000 miles from South America. Imagine the diesel for a 13,000 mile round trip plus, his on station costs. According to the AIS he has been here since 10th April. Plastic bottles, bags and general packaging is everywhere.

Sailing around on the oceans and dropping in on the places we pass, we are definitely becoming more eco conscious. We make landfall on the desert islands of the Kuna people in the San Blas, have a barbeque with 20 other yachts and leave them our "calling card" of black bags of rubbish. We visit the Galapagos and our daily three small bags of eco sorted waste are all chucked onto a giant heap, joining the massive amounts generated by the tour boats. This pile of trash at the end of the quay probably goes to landfill. Or hand sorting and recycling if you believe the PR. If you see the RIB's chucking all their plastic bags into this giant heap you might doubt that. Contributing even our little bit doesn't seem right.

Anyway, enough trash talk. Worldly problems aside, it's a lovely day, we have 16 knot Trades, we passed half way yesterday and we're just easing along beautifully. Goosewinged, Monitor doing the steering, Duogen and solar panels piling in the amps and fresh baked rolls on the way for lunch. All we're missing is a bite on the end of the line.

The Obsession

We're just simply getting obsessed with Crapper, our Brown Footed Booby. It took the combined talents of Leonard Cohen and Coldplay to scare him off the solar panel. Well, their CD's flapping in the wind anyway. Best use I could think of for them.

Anyway, he's now relocated to the front half of the boat and its now covered in poop. The grand plan was we'd be showering every day, splashing water around without a c\are as there'd be plenty rainwater from the squalls running down the deck. Well, Crapper has put paid to that idea. Instead, I'm on my knees scrubbing and chucking buckets of water around. Another 24 hours of this and I'll take my chances with the Ancient Mariner and shoot the sucker.

When we're not cleaning up, we're making good progress. The wind is steady at 15 ish, not that we know cause the instrument is bust, but we're thrashing along at 7+ all day and night. At this speed we should be there by.........................

Cold Play

At last, after many years I finally got out my Coldplay CD, well, Mile's Coldplay CD which he left on board a few years ago........and strung it across the solar panel and at last, forced Crapper, our pet Brown Footed Booby to relocate to the pulpit. It then took us an hour and several bucket fulls of water to scrub off and remove his "calling card". We've yet to make a start on the outboard and hoist as there may be a lucrative guano market in the Marquesas.

Highlight of the day yesterday was the Pub Quiz. Five boats took part answering questions from geography, nautical knowledge, history and other nonsense. Van Keddesi won the prize; a bottle of Time Bandit Single Malt Whisky. They kindly offered to have a party and share it out when we land.........there goes my plan as the "bottle" is one of our miniatures. May need to do a five loaves and fishes job with it.

On any passage, whether a few hours or a few weeks we always fall into the trap of, "at this speed, we'll be there by....." For the last week, we've been piling along in petrol blue waters at 7-9 knots 24 hours a day. At that speed, we'd have done the passage in 21 days. Ahh, but as usual, it was just tempting fate. The wind has eased to maybe 7-10 knots. Still enough to make 5 knots but, at times, in the swell, not enough to hold the main out. Consequently, we get the flip, flip, crash which makes sleeping harder and brings tears to my eyes as the mainsail flips inside out time and again. If the wind doesn't strengthen this afternoon we will drop the main and go on under poled out genoa and gennaker. Peaceful and, unless a squall comes raging in out the dark, easy sailing. If a squall comes in we have a problem. There's no mainsail to "hide" the gennaker behind and getting it down is a fight. Anyway, that's for later.

Right now we have a dolphin show. About two hundred yards away they're leaping out the water, twist, turns and big splashes. Not clear if they're just showing off, having fun or stunning passing fish so they can get a quick and easy meal. Our wee pal, Crapper was out chasing flying fish yesterday...on the wing. The poor wee flying fish we're flapping like crazy keeping just a beaks length from Crapper. When they ran out of steam, they ditched and Crapper just scooped them up. And of course, an hour later, pooped them up.

New Species Found

24 hours later, Crapper is still with us. He even sat there all night either preening himself or with his beak under his wing, sleeping and pooping regularly by the state of my solar panel. If Attenburgh's lot found him now they'd think it was a new species; the Brown Footed Booby. If he stays with us, he could start his own colony in the Marquesas. You can just hear Attenburgh whispering, "how this undiscovered new species, the Brown Footed Booby made it to the Marquesas is a mystery....."

Other than that, business as usual, plugging along, Monitor doing all the steering and we're doing all the reading, sleeping and cleaning poop from the panel.

The only excitement is that we just heard from Paddy on Kristiane who we met in San Cristoball that they lost their forestay yesterday, (the wire that holds the mast up) and its only the genoa halyard that is keeping the mast in place. There's a few yachts on the Net now heading his way that are quite close, we are 900 miles away. It's a big old ocean with the poop its the fan.

Bacon and eggs time so I'm gone.

Booby Trap

After spending quite a lot of money on various trips to see the famous Blue Footed Booby we now have one of our very own, we call him Crapper, hitching a ride on our solar panel, little blue feet hanging over one edge. His "recycled fish" dripping off the other. Cute as it his to have the company it not only uses up water to clean up his mess but reduces our solar input. I'm exhibiting another Letton trait, specifically, the flapping arms, bird scaring routine. I look like my old dad, hanging off the backstay flapping my arms however, while he used to flap around the garden screaming, "pickaw, pickaw" in an attempted imitation of a crow I just go for plain old "bugger off". Unfortunately, no amount of arm flapping will get rid of him. He just looks down at you over his long pointy beak and kind of shrugs probably thinking, "bugger off yourself".

All the time we are bashing on in now, mostly unbroken sunshine and 15 knots steady from the sou' east. Haar haaar. INTERJECTION - REAL TIME I was just about to write that we've exited Jimmy Cornell's "avoid this area 'cause it's rough" box and that the seas are a bit smoother, when a big thump and a splash announces the arrival of a wave top in the cockpit immediately followed by a scream as most of it landed on Anne. Safer down here at the chart table, typing nonsense, fan gently cooling.

Banana consumption is now the name of the game. Banana pancakes, banana bread, banana French Toast, banana with pretty much everything. Down to our last 25 apparently. Oh joy.

There's nearly 20 boats on the daily Net and four within 100 miles so, while its not a race............I'll go up and tweak the sails for that wee bit more speed. Then, but for that wave launching onboard it would have been out with the laptop for an early evening of The Wire, Season 3, Episode 4!!!!

Bashing On

Not much to report. Not that much happening other than cruising along, making good speed in 15-20 knot Trades. One thing is an issue and that is whoever called this ocean the Pacific had obviously come from a much rougher place. Coming out of Panama we thought "Ooooh. This is nice. Easy, gentle rolling seas. We can do this for weeks". Lulled we were. This bit of the ocean, albeit in Cornell's "avoid if possible area" its as rough as anywhere else. Big 4 metres swells with rough bits on top. Makes walking around the usual challenge but at least its a bit of a workout. Fiona sent us a recipe for Banana Bread so we'll give that a whirl today. Otherwise suggestions please for uses for 50 ripening bananas.

A Good Slapping

As I thought, I got a good slapping for not saying the Galapagos were absolutely brilliant. They were. Don't get me wrong. I was just disappointed a lot of the fabulous sights shown on the Attenburgh DVD aren't available to yotties. For you $1,600 in visitor fees you only get a three island pass and everywhere you go you have to take a guide....even snorkeling in the bay from the boat. The diving was spectacula. Anyway, 'nuff said about Galapagos.

We've been going now for two days and two nights in a mix of calms, sunshine, rain and fog. The magic number is 5 degrees south where we've been struggling to get to but are now here and into the established Trades. From about mid afternoon yesterday we started to feel the winds pick up. Feel, because our new $450 Raymarine masthead transducer is on the blink. Since then we had a storming ride all night making on average 8.5 knots all towards the Trade winds. I think we're into them now and we've headed more west, direction Marquesas. Big rolly seas, somewhere between 2-3 metres and reasonably comfortable. However, we are about to enter an area a hundred miles square that cruising Guru Jimmy Cornell says to avoid. It's a long way round so if there's rough nd confused seas we'll just have to make do.

Now for breakfast....

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