Pacific Crossing Week 3
28 March 2016 | 5 00.0'S 100 24.0'W
Steve & Kate Jenkins
Pacific Crossing Day 15
The only thing worse than an indecisive wind is no wind... And we've spent the day going back and forth between having a very light and fluky wind, and no wind. Today is likely to be our slowest day yet (and lowest mileage day)so it has been a rather frustrating day spent wallowing around, 650 miles from the Marquesas. The forecast for tomorrow calls for more wind, from the E and NE- which would be a fabulous direction for us as we're south of where we want to be- but you need to take those forecasts with a grain of salt. It's been cloudy all day as well- not a great solar day for our batteries.
In the lull, I've cleaned the inside of the boat, baked two loaves of bread, finished a book and lost about 102 games of solitaire to my cheating iPad in a row. Hannah painted most of the morning with her watercolors (happily tuned out with headphones on)and Steve assembled more of the drogue anchor which we sewed this summer but never quite got around to putting it all together. Thankfully we haven't needed it so far- and we hope we never will as the drogue is a storm anchor. With 160 canvas "cups" attached to heavy ropes, we'll tow the drogue behind the boat to slow us down in a storm.
We have seen several boats (fishing and cargo)at night on this trip that haven't shown up on our AIS (a means of identifying boats which gives you the boat name, their course, speed and the point of closest approach) and that have not responded to VHF contact. Thankfully they've been lit up so we've seen them coming and can adjust course if needed but we're not sure if they don't speak English or if they just put their autopilots on and go to bed on the "big ocean, small boat theory." The moral of the story is nothing beats a steady lookout- and you can't assume anyone is paying attention on them.
We're hoping for a Monday landfall (March 21st) in Hiva Oa but that of course is subject to the whim of the wind gods. Kate
Well it continues to feel like Groundhog Day out here on the water. Every day seems roughly the same as the routine of boat life (watches, duties, meals, sleep) change little. The weather is pretty consistent as well with the wind continuing from the East or just south of East. Today we had a little more easting in the wind so we could spend most of the day sailing wing and wing with the mainsail and Genoa. Also, the wind speed increased to 20 knots and we have had a very nice day of sailing with boat speeds in the 7 and 8 knot range. With the added speed we passed the 500 mile remaining to Hiva Oa point so it is all down hill from here. After 15 days on the sea, we have noticed that we will need to do some topside cleaning when we get to port in a few days. Lots of fish scales from flying fish, droppings from birds, and the occasional squid stuck to the deck. Additionally we have noticed a line of growth around our waterline where algae has gotten a foothold. I am about a third of the way in assembling our drogue and although I hope to never be in a situation to use it, after so many hours spent making it, I would love to test it out to see how well it works. Always something to do. Steve
It's all fun and games 'til the ipads go into the microwave...
We had an exciting night on Blue Summit last night as we sailed a little too close to a thunderstorm/electrical storm for comfort. As you can imagine, having a tall metal pole sticking up 65 ft in the middle of the ocean when lightning is around is not the most advantageous of positions, quite the opposite. We had quite a bit of wind yesterday, but when night started to fall it picked up in a dangerous way, reaching 25-35 knots. Then about 20 miles ahead of us a huge front cloud formed and the lightening started. Luckily the storm was already in front of us and the wind directly behind us from the east, pushing it away. Small comforts.
We double reefed the main and put a reef in the genoa. And per standard procedure all of the electronics went into the microwave. From my understanding, sailboats are fairly well equipped to deal with a lightning strikes, but what happens most often is the complete frying of every electronic piece of equipment you have on board, the microwave is apparently the safest place for them to survive. As human beings living in the 21st century, losing your laptops, cellphones, ipads, and not to mention all navigation equipment is a terrifying idea. Not to mention the idea of our little floating home being annihilated isn't pleasant.
It did stay a good distance away from us kicking up some wind and waves, but it definitely caused some anxiety onboard. Quiet day since, there wasn't much sleeping last night so everyone had good long naps, the swells are still a bit bigger than we're used to, looking to be about 8-10 feet high so there's a some rocking on board. It's odd to get used to viewing swells higher than you're line of sight approaching the boat. I think it's safe to say that we're all looking forward to getting to shore to stretch our legs! With about 300 miles to go we are either looking at Sunday or Monday arrival! Hannah
We're taking bets as to who will be the first to see land- and proclaim "land ho"! It is now nearly 4 pm on UT -9 time (we lost another hour this morning when we crossed the 135th line of longitude)and we are 145 miles away from our waypoint on Hiva Oa. Our chartplotter has tantalizingly given us the day and time of our arrival since we departed from the Galapagos on March 2nd- a number which has swung wildly depending on our current boat speed. Cruise at 8 knots and the journey becomes considerably quicker; when the wind dies and our boat speed drops to 5 knots, tack on a few extra days. I have had to avert my eyes at times because that number was taunting me. Last night, when it began to look like we would arrive in daylight on Sunday (a pre-requisite) we calculated that we would need to maintain a 6 knot average- at which point all I could do was stare at the boat speed- groaning when the speed dropped below and reveling when we exceeded our minimum average. I finally had to cover the chartplotter on my 3 am-6 am watch this morning because I found myself staring at that number obsessively.
While we are all eager to stretch our legs, hop in for a swim, sleep without hull slap and snapping lines, replenish our depleted food supplies, see friends, explore the islands and buy fresh baguettes (gotta love French islands) I will miss the simplicity of life at sea. There's a rhythm to every day, I never tire of the breath-taking power and vastness of the Pacific Ocean, and I don't think we will ever have another passage of this length, though it is possible. As Steve said before, it's Groundhog day all over... We will be one of the first 5 or 6 boats in, with the rest of the fleet not far behind. Our plan is to spend a couple of days at Atuona to clear customs,get a good internet fix, pick up some diesel, restock whatever veggies and fruits we can find, and explore the south side of Hiva Oa before heading off to explore other anchorages and islands. The anchorage at Atuona is not very large and it will quickly become super crowded when the other 25 boats arrive.
I have learned a lot about what works and what doesn't in terms of long-term provisioning on this passage. We had/have plenty of frozen food left, with lots of chicken and frozen veggies still lurking in the freezer. We went through a 10 lb bag of flour, baking our own bread, pizza crusts etc... A loaf of artisan bread fresh out of the oven with cheese and apple slices has been dinner more than once- and the aroma of the bread is hard to beat but I am out of flour now. I still have apples, lemons, limes, cucumbers, potatoes, peppers, onions, a winter squash, cabbage and tomatoes left- none of which were refrigerated- so those have been a hit. Perishable foods like papaya and bananas ripened very quickly though and I will NOT buy that many bananas again. Hannah says she won't eat a banana for a very long time. The good news is that there are still about 10 in the freezer :)
Our next passage begins on April 3 when we head down to the Tuamotu islands, about 400 miles south and west of the Marquesas. Thanks for coming along with us on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure across the Pacific Ocean. With love and thanksgiving, Kate
THE LAST DAY OK, I missed my message yesterday... but land-ho and we are safely in port in Hiva Oa. The last day was a light wind day with motor sailing being the only way to get in before dark... and we just barely made it. The sun was going down as we anchored and being a very tight anchorage, we needed both bow and stern anchors to prevent us from swinging. All boats here are anchored this way and in our hast with the dimming light we successfully wrapped our stern anchor buoy (we put a small buoy on our anchors to ensure we can get it back up if it catches on a rock or underwater obstacle) around our starboard propeller. Bummer. We sorted things out for the night and then enjoyed a cold beer, wine, cheese, crackers and a great night's sleep on a very quiet boat.
The 3043 mile trip took 18 days and 10 hours... a very quick trip as 21+ days tends to be average for this passage. We were blessed with great winds almost the entire way and it was a great sail.
Wildlife was a bit scarce in the middle of the Pacific as we never saw a whale and fishing was poor, but we had a wonderful few hours with about 30 dolphins around the boat yesterday, darting around the hulls and playing in the bow wake. I am always amazed by their movements in the water and their playfulness. We are planning a monster half day hike tomorrow that is short but all elevation. From what we have seen today, there is very little that is flat on these islands. It is all up and down... tomorrow should be fun. Steve