24 May 2017
Well folks, I hope you are ready for some sincerity as "fatigue makes cowards of us all."
Those wise words are the offshore sailor's mantra. One has only to get an uninterrupted hour or two of deep sleep on a skinny hard sea bunk, bathed in your own sweat to come up smelling like a wilted rose and ready to start the next shift.
It is all closed up below decks and the lack of ventilation is something that makes your shift a welcome repose from the sleep below deck. The duty comes with the 10-15-20 minute alarm you have set to make sure you have checked the heading, the wind angle (presuming there is wind), the radar for boats and squalls, the cloud cover. Yeah, there are stars tonight! Oh happy day!
The scenario changes as the sea state changes. In a 2800 NM passage you get the opportunity to improve your skill set.
Last night was one of those times.
Last night was a long one. It started with the furling gear not working when we decided to reef down for a unexpected squall. The cause of failure was determined today and luckily repairable by the Captain when we get to HIva OA. That rather unfortunate breakage happened with Pacific Seafarer's net imminent. So with the 120% Genny out we managed in a brief lull to get a second reef in the main. Then Chuck hand-steered as the auto pilot was not going to keep her in control.
We had way too much sail out for the squall that hit. I can't believe the speed these things move at! I gave the report on the Net (things like Lat and Long, wind speed, swell height and frequency, cloud cover. It is a ham radio net that watches out for Maritime mobiles). Then it was back to green water sloshing along the gunnels and the Katie G healed over, more than we would like.
At first chance, we jacketed up and clipped on to the jacklines (safety lines rigged for working on the boat) and as Chuck released the jib halyard and hauled the genoa down, I pulled it onto the deck as it was trying (and partially succeeding) in getting pulled into the water. This was accomplished in short order and once it was lashed down on deck, we got back into the cockpit and took some rather deep breaths.
The seas were rolling, high, and the rain was pelting. At the next opportunity we got the hanked on staysail halyard on, and the sail which we keep ready on deck, out of its bag, ran the lines, put up the running back and got some much needed control back to the boat. Then it was back to the usual of rotating sleep schedules. This squall turned into an all night rain storm and the weaknesses of bimini design were well pointed out.
Tonight, after a full 24 hours of crap, it seems we may have some steady wind. The variability in the wind, where it spins and twists and goes from 5-6 knots to 25 knots and through the gambit of direction (including North!!) was this sailor's first offshore knarly experience. There is no time to be scared, there is only time to do what you are told and wait for the next order. Exhilarating, satisfying and one for the memory book.
I know this is all part of the sailing and it is expected. Those of you who are sailors will be going, "what's the big deal?" This story is for the rest of you who think it is all about gin fizzes and bikinis. So, tomorrow we will dry out the comforts of our comfy high seat cushions and towels and various changes of clothes, if the sun appears.
Tonight I am thankful for steady 15 knot wind and a chartplotter that tells me there is less than 150 NM till landfall. Will I be happy to get there? Yes, of course as it is the beginning of the next chapter of this adventure. A South Pacific Island awaits, full of unknowns in a different language, currency and culture.
The first few days will be check-in, repairs, laundry, reprovisioning and enjoying the magnificent scenery, local history, not to mention the infamous baguettes. We have the cheese (as you may recall).
I miss every one of you, some more than others of course. Haha. As I have said before, please do send your news. We check the mail several times a day. There does not seem to be a limit in the length of email it will accept so don't worry about writing too much (lol). You can't know how much we love the mail!!
Till the next time, keep your stick on the ice. Oh, that reminds me, how are the playoffs going? Are the Oilers and Canadiens still in? It must be getting down to the last strokes by now. Someone send hockey news, please...
Hugs and kisses, Karen and Chuck Sv Katie G
PS. Don't send this email back to me - I know what I wrote already (lol)