Saturday, April 26, 2014

Lucky Day 13 -

So there I was taking the early morning watch when there was a sound like a cup falling in the kitchen, then the sound of the cup 'bouncing' on the floor.  A quick investigation revealed that a flying fish had actually flown in through the hatch over the kitchen and was now flopping around on the floor. How does that happen??  And how come it only happens when everyone else is still sleeping?

When I went outside the stars were quite bright, and there is this beautiful cosmos stretching across the sky.  And to top it off there were 4 shooting stars in the 2 minutes that I was out there.

Little Vitality found a bottle of food coloring and slathered it all over her body, well up to her neck.  She was of course naked, and did not miss one little spot! You just have to see the video of this!

And the adventure continues!


Friday, April 25, 2014

April 25, 2014 - Just Another Day of being Green

Today was another nice downwind day.  We've gone 80 miles in 12 hours.  No car speed, but respectable for a boat.  We now have about 1100 miles to go of a 2900-mile journey.  We're making it.  Still hanging in the pack!

So, on the net yesterday there were 11 boats that checked in.  That's the most yet.  So there are 11 boats out here in this general vicinity.  We also know of a few others scattered that didn't check in.  And yet we see no one all day long!  Interesting.  So, we are still hanging in the pack.  Our little surprise boat Daphne was at longitude 121 while we were at 118 something.  They are 150 miles ahead of us and left a few hours after us!!  Wow, good for them!  They are flying a Genniker from what I heard today.  They're doing something right.  One of the two boats that went north has turned and is coming south again.  The other is staying higher based on weather forecasts of the wind coming straight out of the east in the next 3-4 days.  The single-handing mono-hull had a rough night, poor guy!!  Said he was tossed and turned in mixed up seas all night.  Even had a few waves break over the stern, into the cockpit and down the gangway.  He was strapped in his captain's chair and hadn't yet even been out on deck.

The fish are winning the fishing war at this point with all the boats.

We came 162 miles over the past 24 hours, that's an average of 6-7 knots.  Reasonable.  With the waves and wind still behind us, it's been pretty smooth.  Over the past few days prior to this, we were sideways to the waves and getting some good poundings.  Today I found cracks where the kitchen cabinets connect to the sleigh bed and the living room couch connects to the sleigh bed.  Basically the furniture built into the main salon is getting different motion than that built onto the side hull.  Well, that happens.  At least the foundation of this boat was built solid, so it's just the non-nautical additions that are having some growing pains.

We finished the Galapagos video and watched it this evening after an awesome BBQ chicken/pineapple pizza dinner.  Was really a nice evening.  We watched an episode of "How They Make It" and the kids were off to bed.  Well, so I thought.  I tried to sit down and write the blog when I realized that Vitality had gone down the other side of the boat.  As she surfaced, she was totally green!!  Now I don't mean green splotches here and there.  An entire bottle of green food coloring was emptied from Costco.  She must have used it like a body lotion.  She missed nothing!!  It was all over the carpet, a sleeping bag, and our freezer and walls.  She, on the other hand, was green from her feet to her upper chest and some patches on her face.  Even a little on her back.  I gave her a stern talking to, but had to laugh when I was in the other room cleaning up.  If it were red, it would have been a blood bath!  She left a green spot on the floor where she laid when she came up.  I couldn't have her lay in bed, but it was now after bedtime and she was tired.  I put the sleeping bag that she colored under her and got her to bed (just after a few pictures and a video).  Unfortunately it was dark and I couldn't get great pictures, but I'm sure in the morning we will be doing a photo-shoot with our new short hair-do and green skin.  What a mischievous 3-year-old!!!

We shall see what another week brings.  I don't know if we can land like this - a green child with chopped hair??  We may need to circle again before we land and drag it out a little until we're all presentable??  Or can you just bleach a little white kid?  That's my plan with the carpet.  (Just a joke!!  Don't call CPS!!)

Never a boring day!


Day 12 - Typical Day at Sea

We are still just running with the spinnaker!  Surfing down the foamy waves is perfect, and very comfortable.

So a day in the life of Lil' Explorers goes something vaguely something like this: Around 6am I usually get up, check our course, the wind, and confirm the electronics are all working.  Then outside to see what the day looks like.  Since we are quite close to the equator the sun rises and sets around 6am and 6pm respectively.  We usually get an extra blast of wind around sunup and sundown and whenever a squall passes nearby. Since we are running the spinnaker it is important to maintain a heading downwind as the wind is quite strong, and would whip the spinnaker to ribbons in an instant! (per Loyal) if we would go broadside the wind.

Then it is hot oatmeal with the whole family out in the cockpit, with one of the children telling some fantastic story of one of their dreams, or how they named the new flying fish some crazy name that makes everyone laugh.  Then it is time to check in with the fleet that we met in Panama and the Galapagos (buddy boats). We do it on the Ham radio with everyone giving their position, swapping fish stories, and discussing the weather.

Well maybe we will cover more of the day in future updates. I guess the day is longer than I remember!!


April 24, 2014 - Pacific Ocean

Well, we are definitely over halfway and seem to have figured it out.  Last 24 hours running downwind with the spinnaker and surfing the waves rather than broadside the waves has been very pleasant!  Today was not as eventful as yesterday, but nice none-the-less.

On the net this morning, it appears to me that while we are not in the lead, we are in the running.  The boats that went north lost ground for sure.  But, I believe their strategy is that now they can sail their rhumb (rum) line faster due to their angle to the wind.  We shall see.  We got information from the kid boat, Daphne, who doesn't have a ham radio, but uses satellite email to keep other boats up to date.  Yesterday they were basically where we were this morning!!  They are a small catamaran and we thought they'd be behind us.  Wow, and good for them!!  Our net controller, who is single-handing, was out changing sails this morning, so there was a little concern on his wellbeing until he checked in later.  Apparently last night the winds were light and the people actually took down sails and were bobbing around out there.  We kept moving steadily with our spinnaker downwind run, so we did well compared to the crowd last night.  We also learned that our friends on Field Trip are running a parasail - a huge light wind sail up front.  Interesting to hear what gear everyone has and is using for what conditions.  They caught 2 tuna!  First successes of the trip after our 30# tuna on day 1.  So many lures have gone in that boats are now fishing with homemade lures so as not to lose any more expensive commercial ones.

We saw a couple more birds out here today.  And there is a lot of playing on the bow.  
The kids made rope swings up front and are swinging from the rafters.  They also have found space bags with all their spare clothes on the bottom of their clothes storage boxes.  I put the long sleeves, pants, and warmer clothes away so that it wouldn't mold and I don't have to wash it all or pick it all up every time.  Well, they were so excited about these old familiar clothes that they had to pull them off of the bottom of their storage boxes and take everything out of them.  They have been wearing their robes, long sleeve shirts and long pants now.  Fortunately it's comfortable here, not sweaty hot, so they can get away with it.  On the downside, their clothes storage has become a huge mess in their room and the living room.  I try not to take on big tasks while we are underway, like cleaning up ALL of all of the kid's clothing.  So, there's some work to be done!  I'll put it on my list.

We made great power with our solar today since we don't have the main up which has been shading the panels during half of the day.  I got some good work done organizing, downloading, and labeling pictures.  I'm working on putting together a video of our stay in the Galapagos.  Got some good work done today, Cassidy is doing the editing right now.  If we get great Internet I can upload it.  If not, I hope to send all of our videos home on a hard-drive with Cassidy in July when she goes to the states and see if someone out there can upload them to our blog page.  We'll share them one day.  But until that time, we love to re-watch our adventures as our evening wind down activity.

We did some French for gummies this evening.  Does anyone know how to teach a language to kids?  We're trying, they have some, but sometimes it seems like we are repeating a lot without moving forward.  I don't think language is my strong subject, which doesn't help.  I listened to a French study CD for an hour or two today also.  Hoping it'll sink in.  Nicer to communicate in the local language.  You miss so much when you don't know what people are saying.

Speaking of missing things.  Apparently a "rum line" as sailors refer to it is a rhumb line.  Who knew?  Apparently Storm did!  Thanks Storm for the insight into the sailing world.  Someone has to keep me up to date.  I referred to my Sailing Terminology book, which indicated that a rhumb line is a sailor's version of a congo line.  So having done the research, I feel up to date and well informed. 

 I blend, oh yeah, I blend!!


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Back to Day 8 -

There is a big squall tailing us. Not sure what surprise it has in store for us, but I am betting it is going to include some extra wind, and rain. Maybe if we are really lucky a rainbow as it passes.

We did have some incredible jerky yesterday.  Thank you so much Gentle!!

The children are re-hiding the Easter Eggs from yesterday.  Of course most of them by now are all cracked and smudged with little fingers, but the little ones really love it!

So who knows how we are going to find the Southern Cross? We are pretty sure it is in the southern hemisphere, even thinking that it should be in the south, and maybe look like a cross?   But no luck.   'Course having the sky covered with clouds is not helping!

I did not get any feedback on eating the squid that end up on the deck at night.  Is that Kosher?


Halfway Point - April 23, 2014

So, we did it, we are at, and now past the halfway point.  At 10am this morning, we were at exactly 10 days out and almost exactly half way.

On the net, it appears that the other boats are catching us and/or passing us.  Rumor is it's because in these lighter winds they have screechers, which give them more sail out there.  We have a pretty basic rig, just the start up kit.  I'm impressed how well everyone is doing!  I still hold out hope on my 19-day passage bet.  Well, this morning I did.  Today we got an email from our friends on a catamaran that is leaving Isla Isabela, Galapagos today.  Now if they pass us, we'll be sad!

All day we felt like we were drifting.  We were getting waves hitting us sideways, rocking a fair amount.  We had out the main and Genoa and the wind kept wrapping behind us.  We were moving at 4 knots and in the wrong direction.   Courage was up at night, so napping.  I kept turning us southbound to keep the wind closer to 120 on our port side.  When it would get further behind us, it would backwind the Genoa causing a thrashing.  I was mostly trying to keep it quiet while he slept, realizing our super southbound plan was not a permanent solution.

When he woke, we rolled in the Genoa and launched the spinnaker.  We are on a sharp learning curve as a crew.  The spinnaker launched and was aimed at the Genoa.  Having been there and done that, Cassidy and I jumped to the starboard side of the sail and pulled as hard as we could.  Courage went to the port side and let it out some.  We successfully got it up and didn't wrap it!!  Then it was back-winding, so we dropped the main.  As Cassidy and Courage dropped the main, I was wrestling the spinnaker, trying to not let it launch or wrap or tangle on the mast.  Once the main came down, it took off nicely into position.  Now we are smoothly sailing downwind, easily keeping our course, which we are aiming slightly north of our rum line so that if we later convert to main and Genoa again, we can keep the wind at 90-120 degrees as we aim on the Marquesas.

Unfortunately, the top 2 cars that keep the main in the track were out. This happened a few months ago, but we thought we'd fixed it.  So we got the Bouson chair and up the mast.  Cassidy went to drop the cars back into the track and inspect for any rusting, chaffing, damage to anything along the way.  The seas were pretty calm, but there were a couple of waves/swells that rocked us while she was up there!!  Fun stuff!

She came down and we had a super fancy lasagna dinner.  The spaghetti sauce had 2 carrots, 2 onions, and 2 potatoes in it as well as some turkey.  Layered with noodles and mozzarella (a commodity out here, even in Panama it was a commodity!)  We felt like we were eating like kings.  We followed it with home baked mincemeat cobbler.

After dinner, I had to go wash some clothes out on the back swim step.  I gave Courage the notice that I was going outside of the lifelines, and he invited all the children to go for a swim with me!  So, they all came - - some naked, and a few in suits.  Of course, everyone was in life jackets.  So the entire family ended up back on the steps.  Cassidy opted to be in a bikini bottom rather than naked.
We had 2 ropes hanging off the back swim step.  She jumped in and claimed that her bottoms were coming off.  After a wiggle and a scream, she said they were gone!  She was laughing so hard she couldn't pull herself in right away.  We vacated the steps and threw some shorts her way!!  We all went back with some shampoo and got showers, then went in.

Cassidy had a couple of blue tentacles stuck on her right arm, which left hives.  We're speculating at a Portuguese Man-o-war based on the blue tentacles, but really don't know.  We read about them and jelly's in general when we got back onboard.  Teggy came up the other day with tentacles and a sting also.  We sure aren't seeing anything floating above the surface.  Other than a local sting, there aren't any other symptoms, but a couple of our lines also had blue tentacles on them also.

We also saw a bird flying overhead today.  It was white, yellow beak, long single white tail feather.  We are about 1500 miles from land in all directions.  Where does this bird live?   He flew circles around the boat a few times.  The boys were running around following him.  I think he was too scared to land.  They'd already gotten my approval to let him rest awhile if he landed.  He finally disappeared southbound.  Odd.  We are very curious as to where he lives.  Added some excitement for the afternoon.  We looked in our very limited bird book and didn't find him.

It was another eventful day, with very smooth sailing once we got the spinnaker up and started our real downwind sailing.  No pounding, no wave hits, nice breeze.  Great dinner, dessert, kids in bed, and I think I'm off too.  Definitely smooth sailing for now.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Day 11 - Skinny Dip

So the adventure continues.  Today was a beautiful day, and the wind has wrapped around behind us.  After we raised the spinnaker today, we dropped the mainsail.  As soon as we got it half down we noticed that the top part of the sail had come out of its track.  This has been a recurring problem that we thought we had fixed months ago. The only way to get the sail slide back in the track is to go to the very top of the mast.  Cassidy nearly went in her pants as she jumped with excitement and said "pick me, oh pick me! I want to go up the mast". Shannon and I tag-teamed, winching her up the mast.  Not to cause problems, but she is getting to be heavy!!!

After dinner was swimming time. We are surfing about 6 knots down these great swells. We hang ropes off the stern and body surf behind the boat. The children love it when the swell just lifts them up and floats them right onto the swim-step.  Now the children are of course naked.  But Cassidy being shy remained in her skivvies.  Off Cassidy dropped behind the boat, followed by shrieks of, "I am losing my panties!" And sure enough she was buck-naked!  Now I was laughing so hard that I could hardly breathe, let alone see through the tears of hilarity.

So all in all it is just a great day to be living in the middle of the ocean.


Day 10 -

It's just a beautiful day with sunshine and nice waves with white frosting, and about 15 knots of warm wind.

The fishes are biting, and Loyal's hand-lines are holding up just great.  Unfortunately the lures are not so tough. We have straightened hooks, twisted lures, and the wood lure is wrecked. Rumor has it that it is the giant Mahi-Mahi of the South Pacific.

Still running full main and Genoa.  And loving it!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

No Longer in the Lead - - -

Well, we were officially passed today.  The 2 boats are about 30 miles ahead of us.  We are averaging 150-mile days for the past few days; they are doing 180-mile days for the past few days.  No one has caught any fish; Moana Roa has donated 6 lures, thus far with no fish to show for it.  Field Trip has lost a few lures, no fish.  Rumor on the net was that the other kid catamaran, Daphne, with 3 girls onboard, but no ham radio, so they don't check in, caught a huge Mahi-Mahi.  Reeled it in, got it on the back swim step when the hook broke free.  Paul (father) jumped on him, but it got away!  So the fish stories are going on!  They have satellite phone and occasionally send out on email.

A couple of the boats have hired a plotter to follow their course, the wind, weather, and know their boat's performance as well as the crew's goals (comfortable, fast, etc.).  They were discussing on the net that they were going to go back north to an even 7 degrees latitude in order to have the wind coming at about 110 degrees off their port sides.  The wind is coming around behind us at this point. They were going to need to drop their mainsails, but were supposed to be able to sail up there.  We discussed it and decided not to back track.  We decided we can spinnaker straight downwind and if we don't backtrack, maybe we can gain the advantage on the race??  Either way, we are good here.
The boat with the "advisor" is actually about 120 miles behind us, so they aren't the ones we are really racing.  The one that just passed us was considering going north, but not totally sold on the plan.  So, no problem, we can't really speed up and haven't really slowed down, so in general, doesn't really matter what they do or don't do, our course is set.  Is fun to compare notes though.  Sometimes when sailing, straight isn't the fastest or easiest way.

So, we are actively fishing.  Rather than our rods and reels at these speeds, we have thick hand reeling lines out that the fish are going to have a much harder time getting away with.  They don't have the mechanism to notify us of a catch though, so we check them periodically.  During naptime, we didn't check it.  After naptime, Courage pulled it in.  We'd had a fish.  The lure was eaten through on the head section with a chunk of wood missing.  The midsection hooks were all bent halfway straight.  That was a good bite for sure.  I got a picture.  Not sure if that means we can't use it again, I'm thinking so.  I don't think it "swims" right.

We had a bodily fluid leak onto the couch cushion this morning.  We also hadn't run the water-maker/generator in 6 days. It has to be run and/or back-flushed at least every 10 days.  Since it's filters seem to be growing things, Courage wants to do it more often.  So we ran the water-maker/generator and washing machine.  We used the rainwater we'd collected in the 33-gallon drum for the wash, then water-maker water for rinse.  Of course we hung it on the lines to dry.  It’s nice to have a bunch of fresh things again.  We're ready for rain again, so we can refill water.  It's been gorgeous sunny for the past few days.  Good for power though.  It's nice to have the option for generator, making fresh water, and doing laundry.  It's also nice we didn't need to run it because we were out of water or power, but rather because it was "time" for the filters and maintenance.  I certainly would not have been inspired to do laundry, except we love sitting on the couch in the evening and the smells in the main salon are very noticeable.

This evening we did our "check" of the hydro-generator.  We threw it in and watched the amp meter.  It was putting in about 7 amps.  Good enough for me!  Problem is, the rope that is attached to the propeller was terribly twisted up.  We thought this would "work its way out" when we threw the propeller into the water.  Turns out, it didn't.  It was horribly gyrating and yanking on the generator, which is tied to our dinghy davit.  Well, at 7 knots, this is not easy to pull in and fix.  Courage got some gloves and held on and pulled it in.  I held the rope behind him to try to assist in stopping the spin and pulling inward.  We got it on, tried to untwist the major tangles, and then relaunch it.  Again there were gyrations.  What a mess.  Courage's initial grab got his glove twisted onto the rope with a finger in it.  I untwisted it enough to get his hand free.  We brought it in again.  This time, Courage secured the generator better to the dinghy davit.  I brought the rope and propeller onto the deck and worked on untwisting it for good.  All the potential power stored up, but it just couldn't be successfully applied.  So, we started with a great start now, securely fastened generator and unwound rope.  Threw the propeller back in, smooth spinning, and finally making our 7 amps.  Whew!

While we were back there, a flying fish washed up on the back steps.  Courage grabbed it and brought it in for show and tell.  He put it in a pan of salt water and everyone checked it out.  Then we put it back in the ocean.  While I was working on the propeller up front, a flying fish landed on the trampoline and was flopping, so I grabbed him and dropped him back in.  Since we seem to get a few per day out there, the boys are trying to fish with them on the large hook that we caught on our rudder/propeller a few days ago.  So far, they keep turning up missing.  So, I don't know.  They are falling off or getting eaten?

For those of you romanticizing about how great it is out here (and it's nice, I wouldn't trade it).  But we're not lying on the deck tanning all day, listening to the waves lapping on the bow. . .  We still need to make 3 meals a day, pick up the living room, sweep, dust (I have no idea where it comes from, but we have plenty!!), do laundry for 8, dishes, etc.  It's life, just like at a house, only a little bit harder to do some basic tasks and you're getting thrown around while trying to do them.  We are spoiled compared to decades ago, electronic GPS, auto-helm steering us, DVD player and LED TV, computers, ham radio contact, etc.  So we are spoiled compared to the past, but we're living here, not just vacationing!

We've been out for 9.5 days.  That would need to be our halfway point if we were to make it in 19 days.  We are nearing our halfway point (maybe tomorrow).  Counting down.  It was slower getting here than hopefully the second half will be.  We came through the doldrums and were not steering a "rum line" or beeline, but rather both sides of the triangle instead of the hypotenuse.  But now, we are on a straight course (hopefully) and all is going well, see how the second half goes.  At this rate, we'll arrive in our early 20-day estimates.


Monday, April 21, 2014

An Eventful Day -

So, anyway, today was eventful.  We woke with a woman talking on the VHF to another boat.  She's from an Aussie cat with 2 kids onboard, a 16 and 11-year old.  A rare find to find a teenage boat!!  It was a one sided conversation, she was talking to Moana Roa, but we couldn't hear them, only her.  From what we gathered, they left Panama on the 9th and sailed past the Galapagos, but did not stop.  They were travelling at 9.5 knots while we are at 6.5 knots in most of the fleet here.  So, officially they were buzzing us!  So unfair!!  But Courage offered that if we didn't have spare sheets, ate only what we caught, brought only 2 sets of clothes, no water each, etc, and also upsized our rigging for $30,000, then we too could go that fast.  We've (I) opted for slower passage and creature comforts.

The other boats on the net have caught us.  2 of them were about 15 miles north of us, directly.  Moana Roa broke a sail, so only has out their Genoa and main, and said they are reefing at night to stop the pounding so it's more comfortable for the people sleeping (and better for the boat).  With that plan, we may still be able to hang even with them!

The kids re-enacted Easter egg hunts all morning on the bow, staging them for each other.  I think they enjoyed that yesterday.  This ended with Valiant and Vitality mangling one all over the cockpit floor.  This was less ideal.

So we were sailing well, but at about noon the winds died down, we were going at 4-5 knots, and we decided to get bold and do a sail change.  The winds were coming from mostly behind us, so we thought if we put up the spinnaker we could get another knot or two of speed.  From a sailing book we have: "Spinnaker - An extremely large, lightweight, balloon-shaped piece of sailcloth frequently trailed in the water off the bow in a big bundle to slow the boat down."  Fortunately, this was not our case.  Courage was hoisting the halyard, Cassidy pulling it in tight, I was lifting the sail up, trying to keep it from hitting the main, keep it bundled so it doesn't fill until it's up, and lift it so they can hoist it.  Well, it was 3/4 up and the wind caught it.  I let go so that I wouldn't go flying with it.  When it launched, it went straight over to our Genoa, which was coiled and stowed.  It wrapped itself around it.  We began to pull to free it, but the wind continued to wrap it around and around.  We stood in awe.  Pulling ropes did us no good, it was too taught.  We couldn't unfurl the Genoa because the ropes were all wrapped up in the spinnaker.  Fortunately, I took a moment to get my camera and snap a picture or two while we mulled over our options.  We tried to turn to backwind it and undo what the wind had done.  This was unsuccessful.  Fortunately the winds were relatively light or this could have been worse.  Finally we untied the bottom ropes, passed it many times around the Genoa until the bottom was released.  We then took the sail, spun it around many times until it was coiled up and couldn't take air, and then passed the long coil over the Genoa many times until the top was released.  We laid it on the bow, uncoiled it, tied up the sides, and launched it again, this time flawlessly!!  We were doing well for an hour or two, then it was back-winding and we were having to aim north again, etc. so we took it down, raised the main and Genoa again.  It was light for a few hours, and then picked up again in the evening.
If you follow our satellite trail, you can probably see where we stopped, went backward, and turned a circle or two, then finally headed forward again.  I was mostly busy, but a couple of pictures to come.  We are thinking that in general, this did not increase our speed by 1-2 knots; rather, we may have lost some time.  Since we are not a finely tuned machine at changing sails, we think we should leave well enough alone??

About a 900 foot ship was coming perpendicular to our course this evening.  We were watching him, and about 30 miles north of us they took a significant course change.  We think they picked up on the other boats' AIS signals that are north of us and redirected.  We were not on a collision course (our AIS tells us the expected time to the closest point of contact with the vessel and the closest expected distance based on speeds and directions, it's pretty cool), but it works out nice for us that he completely deterred to miss everyone.

This evening we did our "French for Gummies" with the kids.  They get gummy treats if they pay attention and practice their French.  It's slow, but it's coming.  Vitality is getting the gummy part.  She's now asking, "I want to do French."  She repeats, but doesn't spontaneously recall any of the words.  But she sure is enthusiastic and really likes the gummies.  Since Valiant only says "fish," he's not an active participant in the French class.  He is an active participant in the gummies though.  Vitality got herself an extra pack by voluntarily cleaning up the entire living room floor.  Not sure where that came from, but sure hope it happens again!!  Definitely willing to encourage that!!

Hydro-generator was out of the water all day today.  Courage felt a shaking yesterday, so we managed to pull it out of the water at 7 knots.  This is not an easy task since the faster we go, the faster and harder this rope with a propeller on the end is spinning.  There was amazing force on the rope.  Courage pulled it up; I pulled the rope that he pulled up inward and tried to stop the spinning from back there.  It didn't stop the vibration, but we left it up all day.  He's not convinced it's working.  I think it was working beautifully.  We had nice sun today, but the solar panels were mostly in the shade of the main.  We are fine for power anyway, but I like the bonus of the hydro-generator.  We will have to run a test and see if it's working.  Its bearings are getting a bit louder, but I maintain that it's being targeted as a scapegoat for vibrations, etc. and that it's working well.  It's called a drogue, so it's also being blamed for us losing the race.  Again, I'm calling scapegoat.

Got a couple pictures of a gorgeous sunset this evening.  Weather was mostly sun with some clouds today, overall beautiful day.

While we were sitting watching an evening movie, a wave pounded us.  Courage and I are up on the sleigh beds, the table in the middle cockpit totally jumped and vibrated visibly!  Courage pointed out that we are epoxy, which gives.  If we were resin, it could have cracked.  That was a doozy.  It's just because we're 90 degrees to the waves, and some crash between the hulls.  These waves aren't wild or gigantic.  Just the occasional timing on one gives us a good wake up.


Day 9 -

Wow, that was not exactly what I had planned.  So there we were, and the wind was shifting to right on our tail.  It was perfect spinnaker weather.  So up went the spinnaker in the shelter of the mainsail.  Then poof, the wind grabbed it, and took it to the roller-furled Genoa.  Then as quick as a flash it wrapped the furled Genoa.  So there we were 1000 miles from anywhere with our nice spinnaker and our Genoa wrapped around each other.  We could not raise, lower, or unwrap either one.  We tried motoring in circles, crying, blaming it on Shannon, but nothing worked.  Then Cassidy, who was 'not' responsible, came up with the great idea of how to unwrap it. Half an hour later we were sailing under spinnaker grinning ear to ear, and nobody was hurt.  It was a great experience for us, and we learned a lot about the spinnaker.

A catamaran buzzed through the fleet this morning doing 9.5 knots to every other boat's 6.5 knots. Rumor has it that they left Panama on the 11th.  I told Shannon that we are going to have to chuck our food overboard, our clothes, and all the extra stuff in the bilges overboard if we wanted to go that fast.  We are also going to need a taller mast with bigger sails.  It was decided that we like the slower speeds!!!


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter on the High Seas -

Another pleasant day at sea, could have been any day!

Last night a 105 foot ship passed just in front of us, about 2.5 miles, at about 1:00 am.  They came up on our AIS and Courage followed them.  He called them on the radio just to confirm not to change course or speed and all was well.  I'm curious where they were headed being out here.  China to Chile?  US to Chile?  Around the Cape?  The ships name was Orion's Iris if anyone knows how to check it's course or shipping route it may be interesting.  Maybe more interesting to me than to those who are landlocked, but if anyone can find out easily, it would be interesting what routes intersect "the middle of nowhere."

We did our check-ins on the net this morning.  We've lost our definitive lead!!  Moana Roa, another Aussie cat with 3 kids, is catching us!  They were only about 12 miles north and 13 miles east of us.  They gained an additional 30 miles on us yesterday.  Good for them!!  They apparently are relatively fast on other crossings and bets were definitely placed on their winning the race. I can see why!  I've half kept an eye out for them on the horizon as I expect there's at least a 50% chance they could pass us today.  Haven't seen them, but that means nothing.  If they stayed north, we may miss each other.  Visibility is about 7 miles to see sails on the horizon.  We called them on the VHF with no reply.  They should be close enough to hear us, but who knows.  Courage indicates that the other boats have larger sail areas for the size of their boats, so we gain our advantage in stronger winds when they are reefing their sails.  Either way, as long as we are performing at our best speed and make it in my 19-day estimate, I'll be happy.  The race keeps us on our toes and trimming our sails and adjusting our course, etc.  The new winds came up, the waves are a bit steeper, but we are still averaging 6-7 knots I think for the day.  Slow and steady!

I had the hatch open over the freezer where we had a little melon hanging that was stinking.  It's a small hatch about 40 feet back on the boat.  A wave pounded into the upwind side of the boat and broke upward on it causing a huge splash (and noise that woke both Courage and Valiant).  The splash washed over half of the boat, drenching the windows to the mast and all the way from front to back. It sent a bunch of water into the hatch, on the freezer and in front of the washing machine.  Typically we have waves breaking over one of the bows and sending up a wave, but this one was big!  All the clothes on the lifelines drying were drenched too.  The waves aren't huge, it was just a random event where it broke just as it was hitting our hull and fired it upward!

This morning we had our usual Sunday morning pancakes, and then Courage and the kids went onto the back swim-steps for a bath.  It was an active one with water washing up onto the second step up sometimes, then we get lifted and the water falls like a waterfall of the bottom step.  I trimmed fingernails and tried to fix Vitality's hair a little.  I trimmed a few areas to try to make it more even, so she has a short cut with patches missing.  Here's hoping it grows fast these next 2 weeks! I trimmed the back since it was getting a bit uneven and so that she would have a short cut rather than a mullet.

John Maruhn - I suggested to Cassidy that she trim her hair in solidarity.  She's thinking about it.  I think she was going to make her cupcakes and give her a hug in lieu of the matching haircut!

We boiled eggs today and dyed them red, blue, green and purple.  We tried yellow, but the eggs are brown and it really didn't take up at all.  We broke most of our eggs in the dying process.  Valiant made sure of that!  Then I set up an egg hunt.  It's very hard to find places for 18 hard-boiled eggs to hide on a boat rocking in about 15-20 knots of wind.  They really had to be nestled or they'd break, roll, fall through netting, etc.  But we figured it out and the kids had a blast searching for them.  As usual, there was that one egg that no one could find.  I only hid the eggs outside with that in mind.  Last thing we need is a rotting egg somewhere in here!!  We finally found it on the kayak and all was well. 

One boat from Sweden told me that during their crossing of the Atlantic, some vacuum-sealed cheese somehow ruptured and rotted in the bilges so no one wanted to go inside during the whole crossing due to the smell!  Sounds rough!  So we didn't exactly have a traditional Easter, but it was a fun kid day anyway.

No rain today. Only one flying fish landed on the trampoline this morning, no squid.  We are trolling 2 lines, but no fish at this point.  On the net we heard of a few boats that donated many lures to the sea the last few days.  Maybe there are some big fish out there??  We had to resort to canned BBQ turkey, brown rice and carrots for dinner.  Kids loved it as a welcome change from fish.  The carrots may hold out another week, probably will run out before then.  Then it's potatoes, onions, and canned veggies.  It's hard to keep anything fresh around for 3 weeks.

We've been reading about the Marquesas for our arrival, so we can make good plans.  Sounds like they have some nice fresh stuff there, but many of the populations are around 700-1000.  I believe I read that there were 250 boats signed up to make this Pacific Puddle Jump.  I realize some won't go.  Also we know some that some haven't left, but are still thinking about it.  Our books indicate that when "all the boats arrive" there is a run on the ATMs and fresh fruits/veggies, so don't count on either.  Together, if we all arrived at the save time, we could double their population.  And I'm sure if all their population needed something at the same time there would be a run on it.  

Fortunately, we are a bit later than the first big departure group, we don't need fresh stuff, we'll be fine on canned stuff if need be.  We bought some French Polynesian francs from a boat that had returned to Panama from out here, so we are OK for our first purchases until we find something to resupply our funds.  We read a blog that some boat came across only empty ATMs for the first 3 weeks of their stay in the Marquesas due to all the boats and the increased demand.

While this all makes sense to me, Courage just read to me that the Marquesas, while being known as friendly, are/were cannibals.  Sure, you'd be friendly if you were trying to lure in dinner!  I was trying to confirm - were or are??  He read that the last known event was a couple of years ago.  They ate a German tourist.  This was definitely frowned upon this day in age, but apparently it occurred.  He went up a hill with the guy, then came back down to his girlfriend and said the guy was really hurt up on the hill and she needed to come.  She didn’t like the way he was acting and went for help.  When investigated they found bones and a campfire.  Guess we won't be taking any locals, only tours, eh??  I don't believe this occurs with any frequency, less than most country's murder rate I'm sure, but I guess it's good to read up before you go!


Day 7 at Sea -

Looks like we should be there in another 13 days. So those who guessed around 20 days should be feeling pretty good right about now. This is typically thought of as a 25 to 30 day passage. Depending on wind and how much stuff breaks.  As you may have noticed we were flying this morning around 10 and 11 knots.  We are now doing about 6 knots with wind of about 10 knots.  So this is the first time we have actually pounded. The main problem is the sea state.  We are sailing at an angle where the bigger waves are hitting us broadside.  So sometimes the boat straddles the wave, and the top of the wave tries to lift the boat using the wing deck.  This is a different sensation than I am used to!  You can actually feel the floor flex where the wave is hitting it.  Obviously the boat is designed for this, but sometimes it wakes you up with a start!!

More squid and flying fish landed on the deck. Now my question is this: Why will nobody help me eat the squid? Does it fall under the same stigma as road kill?  I mean nobody would help me eat that either!  Oh that does remind me, it is time to put the lure back out.  Just today we ate the last of that giant tuna!  We have had it every day for the last week.

The children never seem to get sea sick, and Shannon and I have finally gotten our sea legs.  Strong unpleasant smells still do cause problems though for me.  So I had to outlaw Valiant taking the dead fish to bed with himself. (Especially if he wants to cuddle in the morning!!)

We are still leading the race, but the other boats are still close, some less than 100 miles behind.