Week I Wait, no umbrella drinks?
28 March 2016 | Manzanillo, Mexico to The Marquesas Islands
Our passage from the Mexican coast to the Marquesas Islands is approximately 2,900 nautical miles. We will cross the equator approximately 2/3's of the way. We anticipate we will be at sea between 24-25 days. That's right. Rob and me - the two of us - for nearly a month. One of us is awake and in the cockpit on watch 24/7. Our night watch cycle is 8p.m.-8a.m. Rob takes the 8p.m.-11p.m. and the 2a.m.-5a.m. shifts. I take 11p.m.-2a.m. and 5a.m.-8a.m. Disclaimer: I do most of my writing in the wee hours of the night while on watch.
Our boat, Athanor, is our best friend. She will get us wherever we go, safely. Our autopilot, Chet, is a champion. We could not do this crossing hand steering - no way.
Day 1/2 - Staging Day. Thursday, March 17th, was our intended departure day. And, indeed, we did depart the Las Hadas Marina, but decided that we needed one good night's sleep, away from a marina, not "doing one more thing." So, at 4p.m., we motored out of the marina, into Manzanillo Bay, and anchored in a beautiful, quiet, peaceful cove called Ensenada Carrizal. Nestled in between two steep cliffs, it reminded me of anchorages in the San Juan Islands. Once we settled in, I realized I was feeling a bit melancholy - and a bit homesick. We didn't have a great experience at the Las Hadas Marina, so we were especially grateful to have our last memory of Mexico be of Ensenada Carrizal.
Days 1-4 - The Early Days. Friday morning, March 18th, at 9a.m., we said goodbye to Mexico and headed west. Days 1-2 we had decent wind, and felt like we were settling in nicely. Neither of us has been seasick (knocking on wood right now). On day 3, we left what we refer to as "the naïve days." We began feeling our lack of sleep; our brand new water-maker wasn't making water; we saw less wind; sea swells were 10-12 ft. and we felt like we were in a washing machine -- we were frustrated. We had to motor, which we don't like to do in any circumstances, but now we also have to consider how often we run the engine, as there is no gas station along the way! Day 4 was downright rough. Sea conditions were anything but ideal, and we were beginning to worry that we wouldn't get any wind, period. We certainly cannot motor 3,000 miles!
Day 5 - Well now, hello wind. Today was the first truly good day of consistent winds and comfortable seas. Blue skies, warm winds. We totally enjoyed it. Sometime around 6p.m. the winds began to build, as did the seas. We talked through how we would handle our sail plan if we reached 20 knots. Eight o'clock rolled around - time for me to get some sleep. Five minutes later, Rob sheepishly approaches saying that he wants to take down one of our sails. So, out we went, me in my jammies, my keens, and my life jacket of course. You've got the visual.
Remember those haunted houses with the floors that felt like they moved? That's how the boat feels tonight. Rob was coming off watch - I was heading out and as we walked through the cabin we looked like people when they are walking during a huge wind storm...legs spread out trying to balance. Crazy.
Staying connected. There are six or so boats making this passage at roughly the same time we are - a few left up to a week sooner than us, a few after - all are part of the Pacific Puddle Jump group. Every morning at 14:00 UTC we hold a radio net to check in with one another. We each check in with our position, wind speed, etc. and share how we're doing. It's great to compare notes with other boats. We also have a Delorme In Reach device. With it, I can text our family everyday to let them know how we're doing. It has been a lifesaver for me to stay in touch back home.
Day 6 - The long(est) day. At sunset on day 6, we encountered building winds, building seas, and a sky darkening with clouds. We were nervous what the weather might bring, so initially, we decided we'd both stay on watch through the night. Thankfully, all we saw was a bit of rain, so it didn't take long to rein in the idea to both stay up all night. We settled on 1-hour shifts, which lengthened to two hours as the night wore on. Looking the possibility of big weather square in the face, helped us to focus on doing what we absolutely need to complete a safe, comfortable passage: 1) sleep 2) eat 3) monitor weather. Anything else we'd like to accomplish during these days becomes secondary.
Day 7 - We got (some) rhythm. We received an update from the weather/passage routing service we're using, and now we feel great about our routing for the next week as we approach the equator. Winds were consistent all day - still big, rolly seas, but at least we had speed to move through them. And, just like babies often do, we started to melt down at sunset - need food now! To remind us how blessed we are, at that moment, it started to rain and we caught a yellow-fin tuna. Dinner.
As I write, the moon is full and lighting up the sky - and we're cruising at 5-1/2 knots over deep blue seas that disguise themselves as ominous dark seas at night. Tomorrow we'll be sorting our trash and devising a rain catchment system. Don't you look forward to hearing all about it?
Susan & Rob