Pacific Adventure Week 1
20 March 2016 | 5 00.0'S 100 24.0'W
Steve & Kate Jenkins
Day 1 Well, after a truly outstanding visit to the Galapagos, we are now back at sea in very light wind conditions as we try to push (motor-sail) through the doldrums (known these days as the ITCZ (Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone)) to the prevailing trade winds which should be around 5-10 degrees south of the equator (or about 300 miles away). We checked out of the Galapagos early this morning and after breakfast ashore and a last minute internet fix, we raised our anchor and left the harbor around 10am. Our destination now is the island of Hiva Oa in the Marquesas Island group of French Polynesia which is just under 3000 miles from Santa Cruz, Galapagos. Our route will take us a few hundred miles longer than this as we try to find favorable wind and current conditions. We expect the entire trip to be around 21-25 days before we pull into Atuona on Hiva Oa. Steve
Day 2 We've been underway for over 24 hours now, which means that none of us have grown accustomed to the motion of being at sea again or the sleeping patterns yet, which made for a night of little sleep and day of serious napping. Unfortunately the wind gods still aren't with us and least 10 more knots of wind would have been greatly appreciated. I think the the collective heart of the fleet sank when we heard from one of our boats that had left about 5 days early saying that they hadn't found a good wind until 600 miles out from the Galapagos. Gas being our main concern we are motor-sailing very conservatively.
Not a whole lot to do on board besides reading, sleeping, and planning your next meal methodically. I just started a James Joyce, "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man", the style is interesting and forces the reader to take time to process it which I have plenty of time to do... Strange writing style though, but I really am enjoying it.
We saw a pod of 150-200 dolphins off our bow today! I'm assuming it was training day for the babies to learn to jump because it was only the little ones that really caught air and there were some spectacularly inelegant belly-flops. Hopefully we'll see a whole lot more of them as we move along! Hannah
Day 3 And we're sailing! After two days of motor sailing, with the emphasis on "motor" instead of "sailing", we have finally found enough breeze to propel us westward, not quickly, but without the use of petroleum products. Hooray! A S/SW breeze picked up about 9 pm last night and built to 20 knots before backing off to a relatively steady 10-12 knots now. We're still about 100 miles from picking up the SE trades (a more favorable direction for heading across the Pacific) but we're inching our way toward them will hopefully see more of a S/SE breeze soon.
Seas were pretty short and choppy for about twelve hours resulting in a bumpy ride and flying fruit--the stabilizing cord slipped and the hammock full of fruit swung wildly in the o'dark hours. We now have a lot of cut up papaya and pineapple in the freezer because they didn't take kindly to the joy ride (they swung into the cockpit ceiling numerous times...) so I see a lot smoothies in our future! We're also all about bananas as about 20 of them have ripened- we had banana pancakes for breakfast and we'll have banana custard for dessert. If anyone has a favorite banana recipe that doesn't require odd ingredients we'd love it!
I lifted the fishing moratorium this morning (the freezer was too full to add any fish) and about 3 pm today we caught a little yellow fin tuna- with the emphasis on the word "little." Had it not died when we were reeling it in we would have released it but either we eat it or something else will :) so we're all looking forward to firing up the grill tonight! We had some fabulous ceviche in the Galapagos and are hoping for a mahi catch soon to try making that. Do you see a food theme here?! Kate
Day 4 It is interesting how a typical day on the water can quickly turn into anything but. Today around 11am there were a couple of clinks on the rooftop that got us all looking at each other questioningly, followed by a big clunk. These are noises that no one wants to hear as it means that things are falling off of the mast or boom and landing on the deck above. After quick inspection, we found all parts by the bottom of the mast and the boom no longer connected to the mast, but swaying in the breeze, being held up by the mainsail and jack lines. Ouch. The culprit was a broken vertical pin of the gooseneck (the part of the mast that allows the boom to be firmly connected to the mast while allowing for full movement of the boom in the vertical and horizontal planes). So after tying everything firmly in place so nothing more would be damaged, we assessed the situation. As it turns out we have another fitting with the same qualities that supports the rod-kicker (vang). We could cannibalize the vertical pin from this to repair the gooseneck for the boom and then jury rig a part for the rod-kicker. Blocks and tackles and mechanical winches helped us lift the boom back into place and by late afternoon and with a lot of elbow grease, prying of parts back into just the right position by all crew, we had the part swapped out and the mainsail back up and drawing. We were very fortunate that the wind was light at the time, the unattached boom did not break free or cause more damage and we had parts onboard that could be used (cannibalized) to replace the broken piece of this rather important part of our boat.
We are now just over 3 days into this journey and have sailed 465 miles of the 3000 mile trip (about 15% of the way). Unfortunately the winds are still light, so we have an engine running again tonight, but we hope to find the trade winds tomorrow. We now have only 2515 miles to Hiva-Oa... (almost there). From the big picture perspective, we left Deltaville just over 4 months ago, have traveled 4900 miles and are now just passing the longitude of the Mississippi River. It is a long ways around the world. Steve
Day 5 After yesterdays excitement this update is pretty lackluster. We had a good day of sailing today, with a pretty consistent wind out of the south. We were able to make about 6-7 knots all day. Amazingly we are at the head of the fleet! In the top 5 in our westward journey!
There is bio-luminescence in the water, there always has been but in the moonless evenings, one of my favorite things to do is turn off all the lights on the boat, including the running and steaming lights and dimming the cockpit electronics and looking over the side (properly tied in of course). They're most visible in the wake of the boat, little specks of light in the water that flare up and die down within seconds. It's magic really to have the galaxy clearly visible above you and version in the water below.
Yet another day of no fish on the line, Kate and I are starting to get desperate, watching the lines for what seems like hours on end, and still no bites. It's probably for the best, if we caught anything too big we wouldn't have the freezer space for it.
Kate and I have spent a lot of time perusing the cookbooks we have onboard (all two of them) and deciding what delicacies we should try to make. So far we've made a rice custard which actually turned out pretty well for a first time try, and a few breads. We have some sort of frozen squid in our freezer that Steve picked out at a local grocery store in the Galapagos (he doesn't come grocery shopping often...)so we've been contemplating that for a bit, I don't think we've worked up the courage for it yet. Apparently it's also possible to cut up and cook the stray little squid that gets washed aboard, though every time we find them it's much too late. It's amazing how much time goes into thinking about your next snack or meal when underway, there's not much else to do and honestly, cooking and eating has easily become the highlight of our day.
Somehow I've managed to catch a cold in the middle of the Pacific so we're trying to be cautious that Steve and Kate don't get it. Unfortunately it's a small boat with tight living quarters, but fingers crossed. The beauty of the situation is that the super-sudafed dried out your entire head meaning that I can't get seasick (fluids in ears as well), as it's started to get rougher out here, it's not all bad! Hannah
Day 6 Day and night, night and day...
Greetings from the clean, happy, and well fed crew of Blue Summit! A good night and day of sailing in the trade winds- with a steady 10-15 knots from the SE. Steady that is until Hannah's night watch which was in the wee hours of the morning, the dreaded midnight- 3 am. The wind gods have exquisite timing at night and always seem to kick in 5-10 extra knots of wind for Hannah at night- last night she had Blue Summit screaming along at 10 knots in 20 knots of wind, a fast, bumpy and noisy ride. I follow her on watch the wind ALWAYS dies down for me, which makes me want to pull my hair out... Her midnight sleigh ride, along with good speed during the day, led to our having a 7.5 average for the twenty four-hours from 8 am Sunday- 8 am Monday- the fourth fastest in the fleet! Poor Steve now has two speed freaks onboard- constantly trying to eek out more speed.
If I never eat another banana again it will be too soon- oh wait, we still have about 15 more on board- and they are all ripe... We started the day with homemade banana bread- surprise!- made infinitely better by the addition of chocolate chips. One could almost forget there were bananas in it. After that sugar blitz, we had a "choose the lucky lures" debate, Hannah did a load of laundry, and Steve and I started defrosting the freezer (makes me truly appreciate my self-defrosting freezer at home). Right in the middle of unloading the frozen foods into the cooler, ZING went one of the fishing lines- "fish on!". Steve reeled in an two foot skipjack tuna. Hannah and I debated whether it was a skipjack or bluefin but the stripes suggested a skipjack. "Sport Fish of the Pacific" describes the food value as: "the flesh is very dark and not appealing to many, but it is very good and nutritious." Check, check, check, check. We had yummy tuna for lunch and have at least two more meals out of it! Wonder if bananas go on tuna?
After an action-packed morning we've had a quiet afternoon; napping, reading, taking showers, and watching a movie. We saw a fishing boat a little while ago (first boat we've seen in 3 days) and Chilli Bee (an Austrian boat) and Two Fish (an Antares sister-ship) are both in VHF range. Looking like a some rain clouds on the horizon so it's time to bring in the Code Zero and put the genoa up for the night. Kate
Day 7 This is a big day aboard Blue Summit as we pass the 1000 mile mark which means that we are now a third of the way to French Polynesia. We will celebrate the occasion with brownies and possibly a glass of wine. Only 2000 miles to go... We can smell the islands (almost).
The weather continues to cooperate as we have had a nice 15-20 knot wind from the SE today and we have been under sail power (no engines) now for 3 days. Although we knew from our weather forecasts, GRIB files and voyage planning work that we would have good trade winds, it is always good when they finally materialize. After motoring the first 2 days, we were a bit concerned as we only have enough fuel onboard to motor about 600 miles of the 3000 mile trip and during the first 2 days we had gone through 30% of that amount. We are starting to feel better now as the trade winds continue to push us westward at a nice 7-9 knots.
Also, for the last few days we have been sailing with two other boats within sight and VHF range. "Two Fish", another Antares 44 with friends from New York City and "Chili Bee", a Austrian boat with a very nice couple onboard. When you are literally thousands of miles from anywhere it is reassuring to have a few friends nearby. Steve