Communication is a key element for safety
11 April 2015 | Somewhere on the Pacific, still
The sea, she knows...
How come big waves always hit us when I am half way up the companionway ladder with something in my hand? And how does she know when Ken is, well. let's just say aiming? I am so full of boat bites (bruises) from being tossed about for the last two weeks. The seas are finally calming but we had 8 foot seas for a long time. What is this, the Washington coast? Hardly, they are much gentler here and widely spaced but still an annoyance.
We are on day 15 of our approximately 3 week passage.
Things are generally good on board. We are eating well although our fresh food is running low. The boat is doing fantastic! Way better than I am.
Since finding the trade winds well over a week ago we haven't changed our direction. Besides reefing at night or when we see squalls ahead, we haven't even needed to adjust the sails much.
A bunch of boats that left the Galapagos at the same time got together and started a cruisers net on the SSB radio. We all listen in at the same time twice a day, give our location, speed, direction and sea and wind conditions. It's very nice to be a part of because it makes me feel less alone out here.
I've also been in contact with another cruiser via text messaging. We both have the new Iridium Go and can text each other for no extra charge all day long if we want. It helps pass the tie and it's good to compare notes as they are about 300 miles ahead of us.
I've learned how important keeping in touch with others is. Three days ago a fellow cruiser who was sailing on the same route as us and only a few hundred miles away was hit by a large wave. The wave ripped his rudder off the boat and put a hole in it. They contacted other boats known to be in the area by email. They were also in communication with the US Coast Guard. I am a little unclear of how long it took but another cruiser eventually rescued the couple on the stricken boat. The boat has now sunk. The couple, who we met in Panama, is okay.
Because of our great network of cruisers, not only were these two people saved but we were all given advance notice of two potential hazards. One, a rogue wave and two, the possibility of an unmanned 42 foot sailboat waiting to be run into by one of us (we hadn't received word yet that the boat had sunk). I immediately got in contact with cruiser friends who had access to phone and internet in New Zealand, who called both the New Zealand and USCG to get information on this wave. They had none. It set our minds at ease that we probably didn't need to worry about a freak wave. As it turns out, we never found it and a boat that was close to the stricken boat at the time didn't feel it either. The coast guard gave me information on the set and drift of the sailboat from it's last known location and from that I could warn the rest of the fleet where the potential hazard of the wayward vessel was.
Okay, so there it is, one of us has sunk again this year. Shit happens but the odds are that we will be fine. Hundreds of boats make this same run every year and the vast majority arrive unscratched but bruised.