3rd week at sea
14 June 2013 | South Pacific
3rd week at sea. June 14th.
Well I was going to make this post at the end of the 3rd week via SSB radio, but I made landfall and forgot about it. So 3 months later . . .
The reward for surviving all that bad weather was fish. I gave up trying to hand line and switch to the rod and reel. I only have a couple more lures and can’t afford to lose anymore. With the rod and reel I can at least play with the fish. Just before sundown I get a strike. It’s something big, by the time I got the boat slowed down there were only a few more wraps of string on the reel. So I tighten down on the drag and was able to get a few yards of line back, then that monster took off again. Tighten the drag down some more hoping the line won’t break. I was able to get some more line back. The fish must be getting tired by now, because I sure is tired. After what seems forever or a reel long time, I was able to gaff this giant, 5 feet long and weighed a ton, look like a Wahoo. Went and got the book to make a positive ID and it said they usually run in pairs, so I put the line out again and started sharpening the knives. Before I could get started cleaning that monster, another strike. This time the fish was jumping out of the water, it look bigger than the one I have in the boat. It sure felt good when it got away. When I retrieve the line I notice the reason it got away is because it actually straighten the hook out. I’m thinking I need a bigger hook now, so I put the rod and reel away. One big fish is more than enough. It took me over an hour to clean that monster and now the freezer is full. I sure don’t need to fish anymore for awhile or at least until I eat some fresh caught Wahoo.
I must be getting close to land; I’ve started to see fishing boats on AIS, radar, and eye. They must have heard about the Wahoo in the area. Change course to avoid contact. I don’t have any alcohol, cigarettes or food to offer and I sure don’t want to get caught in their long lines. They may try it gaff my boat.
While talking with Phil on SSB/HAM he says a lot of cruisers stop in Fatu Hiva first instead of going to Hiva Oa which is the official check in port. From the Galapagos it’s only 23nm closer, but from my current position I’ll have to Jibe to get to either one of them and Fatu Hiva is a lot closer. Besides most of the boats on the Southern Cross net stop there first. Must be a good reason, so I change my mind and made plans on meeting Phil in Fatu Hiva on Thursday.
The weather haven’t been bad on these final days of the longest passage ever - for me, I’ve been doing a lot of motoring, trying to arrive before dark on Thur 13th. Winds are less than 10 kts most of the time and they are coming straight from the back of the boat. What’s up with that? The wind is either coming from the direction I want to go or blowing in the direction I want to go, and I can’t sail either one of those points of sail very well. Now if I had a spinnaker I could at least make some speed going down wind. I’ll just have to add one of those to my wish list. But in the mean time I’ll just have to settle for using the whisker pole in daylight to keep any kind of shape on the jib. At night it comes down, don’t want to be fighting with that in the dark if one of those squalls show up unannounced.
By the 3rd week I have ate all the food I pre-cook in the Galapagos. And I don’t want to eat another meal out of the can. I have been cooking every now and then something simple, or just micro wave something, but this time I decide to bake some of that fresh caught Wahoo. The books and magazine articles describe cooking underway; it can’t be that hard, except I’m not a very good cook. After taking the fish out of the oven and placing it on the stove top, then try closing the oven door. King Neptune sends one of those big waves to rock the boat. Normally the stove rock with the swells because it’s on a gimbal, but while holding the door it don’t rock. Instead the hot scalding water/grease that’s in the pan end up on my legs and feet. Damn that hurt. Burned too. But no blister the next day so it really wasn’t that bad, just hot. Lesson learn – it’s safer to eat out of the can in rough seas. Or a peanut butter sandwich would have been a lot less troublesome.
On my last night at sea the wind just keeps pushing me south. As much as I hate to, I have to jibe to the north to not run into this big island in front of me. The s/v Itacha that I’ve been trying to stay ahead of since leaving the Galapagos (unofficial race) was just 50 miles behind me at the last check in. I’m hoping this jibe won’t let them past me. Come sunup they call me on the VHF. Rats they passed me up. They notice this boat on AIS last night heading north and wondering if it was me. Yep I passed about 6 miles behind them, now they are 8 miles in front of me. Oh well I lose the race but gain a friend.
At 2300utc I’m pulling into the anchorage at Hiva Oua. Phil is there waiting on me with a bottle of Malibu. We toast and share sea tails about the crossing, but for some reason I’m not sleepy or tired and sure don’t feel like taking a shower. I just spent 22 days at sea and I’m already beginning to miss it. There isn’t much to compare it to. While at sea I just couldn’t wait to reach land – now on land just can’t wait to put out to sea again. Go figure?