11 November 2009
We are still close hauled against a southerly wind, making our progress painfully slow. Last night the wind died completely, forcing us to turn on our trusty, but slow Buhk diesel engine. You always feel like a traitor to the true spirit of sailing when you begin to motor, however, this is not a stretch of ocean where you want to linger. On average, fronts come through the area every 5-7 days, and often they pack some serious weather. There is a front scheduled to hit us sometime tomorrow evening, in which they predict 40 knots and sizeable swells. All of which is manageable, it just might be a bit rough, wet and needless to say exciting.
Wasabi, with my dad and Bruce onboard have put close to one hundred miles on us since we left Minerva Reef. They have quite an advantage with 14 feet of water line length on us and a 160hp motor compared to our measly 34hp. However, have had problems with hydraulic jib furling system, so they now have to go up onto the bow and manualy crank it in and out, and also with problems with water in their fuel, most likely from dirty diesel in Tonga. They have had to drain a sizeable amount of water from their Racor filters (special filters designed to electrically sense water in the diesel as it passes through them before it reaches the engine). If water gets through it will stall the engine and a lengthy and complicated process of bleeding the engine must be done. When Wasabi fueled up in Tonga they did not use a fuel filter before filling the tanks, because it takes more than twice as long to fuel up. When we pulled up with Kena to the dock they strongly encouraged me not use our filter, saying that the diesel is 'very clean' and not to worry. We have encounter numerous fuel dock operators who all have say similar things. I told them I was not going to fuel up unless they allowed me to use the filter, and at the prospect of losing a few hundred dollars in diesel, they conceded. We held the up line and made a big power boat named Karma wait, but it turned out to be the right thing to do.
Again today we were visited by a school of leaping dolphin, this time they were the rare Striped Dolphin and got some great photos of them jumping that we will post on the blog when we get to New Zealand.
We have also recently been seeing Albatross, with their massive wingspan, soaring just inches above the waves. It's incredible to think that they spend years out at sea and rarely, if ever land upon it.
We just finished a wonderful meal of albacore tuna that was an hour old. Both Alan and Tomas were taking naps when got a double hit on the rod and boat lines. I yelled 'fish' but no help came, with the engine running no one heard my cries. I went for the rod and no sooner had I grabbed the rod than the fish flung itself out of the water and off the lure. I put gloves on began pulling the boat line in. I soon saw a large silvery mass boiling in the water. It came in quite quietly until the last 5 meters, and as if it knew it was close to its demise it went absolutely berserk. It began swimming under the boat towards the propeller, so I yanked it as hard as could and flung into the cockpit. It of course landed blood, scales and all on my book "Freakonomics"...a great book by the way. I grabbed the fish and 'ikigimied' it, or brained it by putting a screwdriver into its gray matter, killing it instantly. When selling fish to Japan, which Alan used to do, if a fish is not 'ikigimied' it loses value and is considered less flavorsome, because if the fish is not killed quickly and dies stressfully, it changes the consistency of the flesh, making it less firm and flaky. Both Alan and Tomas woke up just as I finished filleting the fish and putting it the fridge, and soon after we enjoyed some sashimi with the usual garnishings of wasabi, soy sauce and seasame oil. Albacore meat is much oilier than yellow fin tuna, a sign of the fact that it is a cold water fish and that we aren't in the tropics any longer.