Jumping the Puddle- Part 6
11 April 2008 | 04? 37S, 133? 32'W
Day 21 00? 41S, 131? 16'W
Well, here we are in the Southern Hemisphere. looks a lot like the Northern Hemisphere. Bunch of water to my left. Bunch of water to my right. Bunch of water. well, you get the idea. But we KNOW we're in the Southern Hemisphere, and that does feel like an accomplishment. It's also been pretty cool watching the night sky as the constellations change slowly as we journey south.
In fact, my dad asked what it was like to be sitting all alone under the stars in the middle of the night. It's a lot of things: beautiful, peaceful, awe-inspiring. In fact, for John that first night watch is his favorite time of day. the girls are in bed and all domestic responsibilities are done for the day. Nothing to do but sit back and enjoy the night sky. (except trim the sails, check the self-steering, watch our course, quiet down each new bang, squeak and rattle.)
Sometimes when the moon is up you don't see as many stars, of course. But the sky is no less beautiful with the moon glow playing across the water out to the horizon. And, if the moon and stars aren't enough (isn't that a song?) you can often see the phosphorescent glow that gets activated when tiny microorganisms with bioluminescent properties get stirred up in the water. Most often we see it in a simple midnight flush of the toilet. It looks like little stars swirling around the bowl (we use sea water to flush). Other times you might see what looks like a green torpedo racing toward your boat only to discover the organisms are being moved by a dolphin approaching. And fairly often the ship's bow seems to scatter what looks like handfuls of glowing emeralds along her wake. It's really a magical sight.
As far as today goes the winds started out very light but have picked up to a steady 12-14 knots.
Day 22 02? 33S, 132? 07'W
Here it is. THREE WEEKS since we left Ixtapa, Mexico! And probably another 6 days to go. Okay, so it's taken us a bit longer than we thought it would. Losing our whisker pole really hurt our ability to go deep downwind. and the wind being predominantly from the northeast in those early days (and us wanting to go southwest) meant that we were couldn't run the rhumbline.
Oh well, the wind is good today, 12-15 knots from the east. We're making good speed now with a full jib, staysail and slightly reefed main. And we're heading straight toward Fatu Hiva. So all is good. Until.
John starts up the genset to run our watermaker. The watermaker almost immediately shut down due to a pressure issue and John realized that there was no cooling water coming from the genset's exhaust. Very bad. Turns out the impeller practically disintegrated (not unheard of) and needed to be replaced. Something ideally done in a calm anchorage or at a dock rather than on a pitching, rolling, heaving sea. Of course John had a spare. Fortunately he had TWO because the first one- which was supposed to be an OEM part- did not fit! How annoying. Luckily the second was made by Westerbeke and fit just as it should.
And just as he finished that to start up the watermaker again, the watermaker decided it needed an oil change. Poor John! All I could offer him was encouragement (as I sat in the cockpit reading my book).
Day 23 04? 37S, 133? 32'W
Things are going really good. The winds have been so consistent that we have reached this sailor's nirvana: "set it and forget it". We haven't had to adjust the sails or the self-steering for about 48 hours now, and we just keep tracking along toward the islands. Other than the rocking motion from the swell (yep, it's baaaack) things are looking good.
Hard to believe that we're almost there. we've definitely developed a routine to life at sea...
We're still on Ixtapa time and every morning at 9:00 (which is looking more and more like 6:00 am) we tune into what we call the "Shambala" net. This allows us to track other boats around us along with the conditions they're experiencing. The girls wake up a bit after that and we have breakfast, usually in the cockpit.
We've only done school a few times, the boat's motion just hasn't been conducive, but the girls generally play some sort of game (school, restaurant, "help people") until lunch while John and I strategize about the course, the sails, etc.
After lunch one of us will generally try to get a nap in while the other stands watch (basically monitor the boat's speed, position, course and sails while keeping a look out for traffic. as if!) Around 4:00 John runs the genset to power the watermaker and recharge the batteries. This is also the girls chance to watch one video on the TV while the genset is powering it.
At 6:00 we have another "Shambala" net and then the "Pacific Puddle Jump" net at 6:30, followed by dinner. (Even though it's probably only 4:00 local time we've elected to stay on Ixtapa time until we make landfall. it just seems easier that way.)
After dinner we have "reading hour" where we all sit up in the cockpit reading our books and then the girls get ready for bed. It's still light at 9:00 and the girls gripe a bit about being sent off to bed during the day, but I read them "Harry Potter" and let them play their Leapsters until around 10:00 (which remember is probably only 7:00 local but, hey, we're whupped!)
John takes the first watch and I go to bed. I come up around 1:00 or 2:00 am to take over and 3 or 4 hours later he comes up for his turn. And before we know it, it's sunrise and time for the morning radio net.