Pacific Crossing Week 2
20 March 2016 | 5 00.0'S 100 24.0'W
Steve & Kate Jenkins
Day 8 We've been out for a whole week and I suppose you can say that the end is coming into sight. We've had a really great sailing day, albeit a bumpy one, going a pretty consistent 8-9 knots in the water, we had a rather unfortunate counter-current that was about a knot against us for the whole night and part of today which has finally died down.
We've had a lot of fun sailing with a sister vessel, Two Fish, which is the same boat model, just newer than ours (and it can be said that it has some improvements). If youknow us at all, you are well aware, that the Jenkins clan has a competitive streak that could rival that of Olympic teams. This is most apparent in Kate and I, Steve is much more concerned about the well-being of the boat and the company of Two-Fish. One of the crew on Two Fish, who shall remain unnamed, is of the same competitive mode, so the last few days have consisted of Two Fish calling us on the radio to ask our speed and sail configuration and then dashing off the VHF with a "I'm going to go fix my sails", and then when he gets ahead, Kate and I are pleading with conservative Steve for the more sail to go out. We are having a lot of fun with the back and forth- and learning a lot...
We finished the last of our Skipjack Tuna, which wasn't as bad as people warned us about, but unfortunately at 8-10 knots of speed we aren't likely to catch anything. And Kate and I are in no way willing to slow down with the competition so near.
Steve got ambushed by some flying fish in the cockpit last night- and there were several others on the foredeck who were not fortunate enough to be rescued in time.
First 1000 miles down, less than 2000 to go! Hannah
Day 9 "It's still rock and roll to me," sang Billy Joel a few years ago (for those who can appreciate '80's music...). The good ship Blue Summit is still rockin' and rolling along at 7 degrees South, 112 degrees West- knocking off longitude to the tune of about 2 degrees a day. The Marquesas are located at 9 South and 138 West- our chartplotter says we're 1627 miles from Hiva Oa! Less than 120 miles of southing to make, a whole lot of westing to go...
The wind has shifted around so that it's now coming more from the southeast (vs. south) as predicted and has started to diminish- neither of which makes us particularly happy. Toss in a 1 knot countercurrent, and you've got the trifecta! Blue Summit (and hence Steve, Kate and Hannah) is happiest romping along on a beam reach (when the wind is hitting the side of the boat) vs a downwind sail where the wind is closer, or on, the stern. We aren't a fast downwind boat and we don't have big downwind sails like a lot of boats so lighter winds from the stern=slower passage. In the meantime though, the sea is pretty confused so we've got some healthy swells rocking us now.
Today was another cloudy day- great for keeping the temps down, not so great for solar charging the batteries. We'll probably have to run the generator sometime tonight for an hour or so because our electronics (radar, chartplotter, and autopilot) are energy hogs. We have had some spectacular night skies when they've been clear and are having a blast with our various phone and tablet "Night Sky" programs learning the southern sky. No Southern Cross yet and we still have the Big Dipper but the North Star has disappeared. With a waxing moon, it's been fairly dark- great for stargazing. Hannah and I saw some amazing bioluminescence dancing in our wake a few nights ago.
Today has been a another lazy day as it's been bumpy. We've all napped and read, and Hannah's watched a movie. We will celebrate the halfway mark sometime tomorrow morning- 1500 miles down, 1500 to go- that calls for a party. I see a banana cake in our future! Kate
Day 10 We started the day with photo shoot- "Blue Summit" and our sister ship "Two Fish" in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 1500 miles from anywhere. We brought the two boats together to within 100 meters and took some great pictures of each other with all our sails up in 20 kts wind and 2 meter seas. Lots of fun, and I can't wait to see the photos of Blue Summit when we get into port in 10 days or so.
Just as we completed day 9 of this crossing we passed the halfway mark of the passage. 1500 miles down, 1500 miles to go... there is no turning back now. We are now starting to look forward to cruising the 5 major islands of the Marquesas in French Polynesia and it is time to start planning our route through these islands. Lots of choices of beautiful anchorages and challenging hikes in this group. We will be checking into Hiva Oa (as soon as we get there), cruising the Marquesas and then moving on the Tuamotu Archipelago shortly after our rendezvous in Nuku Hiva on 2 Apr.
The "when" we will get into Hiva Oa is of some discussion onboard as the wind and currents are a fickle thing. The optimist might think it will take another 9 days as did the first half of the trip, but the conventional wisdom is that we will not get as favorable winds as we have had these past 5 days. We have had a very good run these last 9 days with perfect winds for our boat, but as the wind wanes, I suspect it will take us a bit longer and other boats in the fleet will start to catch up and pass us. We like the wind... Steve
Day 11 Today has been slow. We clocked in our slowest average time in the last 12 hours out of the last 7-8 days, at 6.6 knots. Unfortunately the winds have died down quite a bit leaving us a bit frustrated, but still, 6.6 is doing better than most in our fleet. Small victories. The mainsail has suffered a couple of smaller rips that are growing... No new mainsail in sight til Tahiti so we're going to have a topside sewing party one of these days. Fingers crossed that it will last us the 6 weeks needed.
We finally made it down to the 8th latitude which is where the majority of the fleet is, though most are at least 100 miles behind us. We're hoping to maybe catch sight of/get in VHF distance of some other boats soon though.
I finally finished my James Joyce novel, which took a bit of perseverance, and have moved on to the classic "Treasure Island". Already the print is bigger and the reading light, it's going to be a good palate cleanser from Joyce.
We made pizza on board today and had fun digging in the fridge, finding vegetables on the cusp of going bad and looking through our canned goods supply for toppings. Miraculously we found mozzarella and pizza sauce in the Galapagos, so Blue Summit was living the extravagant life.
All of our non-frozen bananas are gone! Thank you all for your words of encouragement through that difficult and dark time in our lives, the time that was ruled by the yellow fruit I will no longer mention by name.
We've had the fishing lines out for 3 days now, and all we've had is one bite, but the sucker got away... Really hoping for a fish soon. Kate's put her order in for a Wahoo or Mahi, and at this point I'd be more than happy with a simple tuna. Hannah
Day 12 Sunday Greetings from 120 west! Twelve hours after you all "sprang forward"- we sailed across the 120th line of longitude, and fell back yet another hour. Virtual time travelers here... We lose another hour at 135 which is less than 200 miles from the Marquesas Islands. We haven't quite figured out how this works but the Marquesas are 9 1/2 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time- what's with the half hour?! Little things mean a lot at sea so another time zone is cause for celebration- we opened the chocolate covered almonds and made a family favorite, "taco mac and cheese"- think cheesy carbs in a spicy sauce....What's not to like about that? Tomorrow is yet another milestone day as we'll pass the 2000 miles mark, with a 1000 miles to go- wehoo!
Neptune must not have been happy with our offering when we crossed the equator because we have only caught 1 fish since then. We've lost two lures and had numerous fish shake the hook, including one today who made off with a brand new lure and snapped the line. Hannah and I almost cried when we lost the fish but Steve was Mr. Pragmatic, pointing out that as the fish ran all of our line out in no time, it was probably bigger than what we would really want onboard. Sniff sniff sniff
The weather pattern remains the same though we've noticed that winds tend to pick up more at night so we may go back to shortening sail at sunset. We've left the Code Zero, a big foresail, up through the night to eek out the extra speed but it makes the night watches a little anxious as it doesn't like more than 20 knots- and getting it in in more than 15 knots is not easy. No rain for a few days- we could use a little to wash off the fish scales from the numerous flying fish who have tried to hitch a ride (alas, most come aboard at night and unless they land in the cockpit, we don't throw them back in time) and the foredeck is still messy from the red-footed booby slumber party we had three nights ago. They were very entertaining guests through the night but they did a lousy job cleaning up after themselves.
Not much else to report here- today was a laundry day so we all have clean clothes and will soon have clean bodies to go in them as it's a shower day. As we haven't had the engines going for 9 days, we are long out of hot water. As the temps range from 80-85 night and day, the cool water feels good. Kate
Day 13 While looking back on our track from Santa Cruz to Hiva Oa today, I did notice all the weaving we are doing en route to our destination. Although the track looks like we are lost (possibly), we actually have the wind at an angle that does not allow us to sail, with our inventory of sails, directly to Hiva Oa. We are forced to either head too far south in order to keep the sails full and our speed up, or too far north when we are running directly before the wind with our two head sails set wing-and-wing. Deviation from this causes our sails to collapse and our speed to drop dramatically. So, we will continue to stumble our way westward toward the Marquesas... and if we find ourselves in New Zealand or Japan, oh well.
We chose the direct down wind sail today to ensure we did not get too far south, additionally this gave us a more stable boat so that we could work on our mainsail. The mainsail needed patching (again) in a new area where it is stating to rip. With 7 patches now on the sail, it is starting to look a little tattered, but Tahiti isn't too many miles away,
The sail to date has been absolutely tremendous with perfect winds on the beam and boat speeds in the 7+ knot range. Although this is great, it has spoiled us and today's 10 knot breeze on the stern, had us moving at only 5 kts. Frustratingly slow, but still moving in the right direction and the day was beautiful. Other boats around us were equally frustrated by the slower progress. Steve
Day 14 Blue Summit has been chugging along nicely today, after a disappointing day yesterday. The winds are stronger, though it would be nice if the turned a little more to come from the south rather than the east. It seems the whole fleet is starting to experience better winds, boats are putting up much higher average SOG's (speed over ground) for the last 12 hours. We seem to be managing a 7.0knot average speed, which is better than our 6.2 of yesterday. Unlike most boats we don't have a lightweight, downwind sail, so quite a few of them are gaining on us! With just under 800 miles to go, I think we can hold them off!
Other than that it was a pretty quiet day on board, we did manage to catch a baby mahi, which unfortunately was a bit mutilated by the hook and the drag in at 7 knots, it was kinder just to get what we could off of it then release the little guy. But at least we know that we are capable of catching something!
We are finally getting a bit more of the moon on our night watches, and it's only a crescent, but it still provides more light at night than we've gotten this whole trip. We haven't had any real squalls yet, but they have been warning us about them in this area, so it's nice to have a bit more visibility.
We've all been blowing through books during this passage. The books currently being read are, Lee Child's "Jack Reacher", Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace" and Clive Cussler's "Skeleton Coast",and if anyone can guess who's reading what you get a gold star.
Naps and showers all around today, so it was a good day! We are still trying to wash out the rugs after a big wave came through one of the ports of about 10-15 gallons of water, so we showered with the accompaniment of one of the rugs, trying the "shower stomp" cleaning method.
I have to start contemplating letting Steve cut my hair for the first time in 10 years, any tips on cutting women's hair would be greatly appreciated. I had a lot more confidence in his ability when I was 12 not to mention I had never seen a hairdresser before and didn't know what I was missing. "Styles by Steve"? Hannah