You have a few choices! The longer narrative version or for those who look at something as “TLDR” (Too Long Didn’t Read) theory, the ship’s log is at the end! Enjoy!
We finally left Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to begin our own “Puddle Jump” to French Polynesia and the Marquesas Islands and here it is, middle of June!
With all of the other 2018 Pacific Puddle Jumpers having left in March and April, we plannedon bringing up the rear by leaving in May from Puerto Vallarta. Even back then we had dealt with all the quizzical looks from others when we spoke of our departure date. “That’s kind of late, isn’t it? Isn’t that hurricane season? Everyone leaves in the spring, don’t they? Are you going to wait and go next year? “ We realized that our window of weather opportunity was closing with each week, however, our research of weather patterns and discussion with those either lived or sailed with a tremendous understanding of weather in the Pacific, assured us that leaving in the spring was not a guarantee of an easy passage either, that wind patterns such as Highs and Lows really don’t settle in until later months. With the right amount of diligence it could be done. The ITCZ is a constantly changing band of lack of winds (Doldrums) that could be encountered in March, April or May. It is really the storms that become hurricanes that we need to watch carefully. With our paperwork for immigration and the approval of a Long Stay Visa secured a month ago, all that remained was us getting to French Polynesia. We thought the challenge of our delayed appointments to San Francisco would be our biggest issue. It would still be May, before the hurricanes really start ripping up the Pacific coast of Central and North America and we could carefully pick our weather window for departure. We allowed time to spend a few days or a week at the Soccoro Islands, a bucket list item (and it would not disappoint) that was huge on my list. Finally some worthy diving experiences which in essence was a big reason for being aboard our own sailboat after all. The Revillagigedo (Socorro) Islands would be a teaser of what was to be in our future. We did not anticipateleaving San Benedicto with the return to Cabo San Lucas. We did not planon having the autopilot fail. Most of all, we were thankful that it provided the red herring that would lead us to a bigger problem with the masthead pin. Having it fail on a downwind sail , our genoa, would be a huge detriment to our sailing. We also knew that while we had the initial loss of a month in the islands, that we were not planning on whisking through the islands to get to New Zealand as many others would be doing. Some planned to spend as little as a few days in each of the archipelagos! This was certainly not our plan. Neither was leaving in the middle of June. John, the ever supply chain manager, worked his magic and procured the needed parts with shipment to Cabo San Lucas. We found that we had connections through other sailing friends should we need it. We weathered through Hurricane Bud and what our “escape” plan would be if needed. Every day was weather day and every day involved planning and decisions. Every day was a new plan. Plans are merely intentions, ideas made in the sand.
Now we were off! A hot sunny day in the anchorage of Cabo San Lucas! We said goodbye to the “boom boom” of the best of 70’s, 80’s, and current rap music aboard the tourist pirate ships, the day trippers, and the jet skis. We hoisted the sails and turned toward the southwest. Flying at 6.5-8kn, we were seeking to get west as a soon to be named tropical storm “C” and “D” were starting to form and begin their trek north up the coast. We were fortunate that Hurricane Bud was downgraded and we didn’t receive more than a fresh water rinse of the boat and rigging. We were hoping these swirling masses of weather would clean up the scattered winds and give us the southbound winds from their backside to help us fly south until we hit the trades.. We were flying at a 6.5kn on a port tack for the first few days. The excitement of finally being underway. John frequently scoffed that Bella Nave could be faster, could be more efficient if we weren’t so “heavy”. The weight of being fully fueled, fully tanked with water, and the provisions for two months (wisely recommended is 2.5 times the food you would need for the time you are planning on being offshore), had him frequently commenting on the state of the boat’s sailing efficiency. This is where he and I differ, I prefer to have as much as possible just in case and he is an absolute minimalist. He also eats three times as much and twice as fast. Fuel and water also weigh quite a bit, and although he won’t argue that we “need” the tanks to be full as we take off on this excursion, it doesn’t stop the frequent commenting. Poor boat. So many expectations.
A few days in, after a couple of days chewing up the miles, over 130 per day, the wind fell. We were able to set the sail pattern to wing on wing, where one sail leads off to one side of the boat and the other leads off to the other side. From behind or in front, you would see the appearance of two wings. When the wind shifted direction but still light, we pulled out the A sail. The A sail stands for asymmetrical sail. A light wind sail, it is similar to the brightly colored spinnakers that often are seen ballooning out in front of sailboats. Ours is red and yellow rectangles. I love the A sail our friend Tony inherited with his sailboat, SV Magic – a striking purple with a large hummingbird! Our A sail is pretty to look at, fun to sail, and very efficient in lighter winds. Sailing is about different sail plans (configurations) similar to the right tool for the right job- or in this case, the right sail for the right wind. At a few days out and a few hundred miles into our almost 3,000 mile journey, we aren’t close to but we are adjacent to the Socorro islands where we were just a short time ago. If only we could divert and spend more time there, however, that door has closed and we must continue on. More tropical storms are setting up and we still have an ITCZ to look forward to.
The rich frequent visits of sea life that we were used to in the Bay of Banderas isn’t here. It wasn’t until four days out or so that we finally had a superpod of dolphins, more than 50 dolphins came up from every angle behind our sailboat, to surf beside us, diving in and around the bow so quickly that it almost appears we would run over one. Their speed and agility guarantee that that will not happen. Our visit was almost an hour as they appeared to feed while playing off our bow.
We have never quite found a watch schedule that suited our needs. This would be our test. Typically watches are divided groups of time where one person is in charge of the boat while the other rests. Sailing seems to be so easy, you just sit there, right? Between monitoring the wind and current as well as sea state, managing the sail plan and navigation, watching out for obstructions and looking at future weather, well it isn’t just sitting in the cockpit getting a tan. In fact, the weather can also have its effect from being hot, windburn, getting splashed as not all cockpit enclosures are the same. I think you get the idea. So three hours can seem like an eternity when you are “on watch”. Three hours seems barely enough time to fall asleep, actually get REM sleep, before being back up on deck. Then there are the “other” things such as cooking, eating, showers, and of course ‘fixing things’. We have met others with the same dilemma and they have chosen to lengthen the watches to four, five and even six hours. We thought we would try a combination of various hour combinations -with five or six hour stretches for sleep, and then dividing up the remainder in three to four hour blocks. The goal would be to be consistent. As anyone who has worked a night shift knows, you understand how changing the body’s time clock can be complex as well as challenging. It is no wonder that we are becoming super tired and find ourselves frequently sleeping throughout the day…
Over the next few days we would be treated to another visit of a superpod of dolphins. Again feeding, these super quick, extremely agile swimmers cover ground and seem to enjoy all the moments along the way. We have not seen any other sea life other than an occasional sea gull. We were fortunate that the wind has picked up, more southerly than we would like, southwest would be preferred. I had in my mind that patterns of winds during the day and receding at night as it seems the sea’s would lay down. That, however, is not the case. The days seem super easy and as soon as darkness falls, let the madness begin.
Fishing has been minimal. We did have a bite and we could see the jump of a fish with a very long projection – a marlin! It was approximately five or so feet and way more than we could eat and freeze. We did not attempt to set the hook and thankfully, it coughed up the lure so it was a win-win for both of us. We are fully stocked with meat and we do not “need” to catch a fish. We planned to fish responsibly in that we would fish for something tasty but small that we could handle and make into a couple meals without waste.
We are both fastidious about our little floating “tiny house”. I have made it a matter of personal pride to see that the bed is made every day, that the head (toilet) does not have any smell-able hint of what happens in there, and the rest of the boat is comfortably clean. I am not opposed to using chemicals that make me feel that I have done my job well. Especially since Pinol (Mexican version of Pine-sol) now comes in a wonderfully fresh flowery sent. (Why, they even dressed their bottle so beautifully that after provisioning, John thought I had brought him some sort of juice to drink. I often wondered if I need an MDS manual aboard!) We are good about air flow and we are good about closing off that airflow if water may be moving across the cabin top. How many times had we heard stories from friends or read that “someone” (usually the husband) left a hatch open while underway, and then one opportunistic wave crashed into the boat and landed on the bed! It was only a matter of time. “Someone” forgot to check all of our hatches, and yes, we took some waves over the bow. Albeit a small hatch, but an open hatch none the less, and now our bed had become, initially unbeknownst to us, a swimming pool. While bouncing like the original Atari game “Pong” as I moved forward in the boat towards the head, I was thrown into the direction of the bed (a Pullman berth) where I landed squarely in a very cold squishy quilt. My spirit sank at that moment. Never mind the fact that we haven’t been sleeping in the bed due to the port tack we were on. Wait. If we aren’t sleeping in the bed, where are we sleeping? John made himself a nest on the port (left side of the boat) and what used to be my side of the saloon, now became his due to the view to the big screen. I took the starboard (right) settee. As we were on a starboard tack for a while, we pulled out the lee cloth so I wouldn’t roll off the settee. This makes for a bit of a tunnel. Now, add the fan right above me and I was very quiet about my little oasis!
It is hard to believe that we are two weeks (14 days) into this pacific trek. We are getting into more of a rhythm and less is getting done. It is impossible to keep up with the stainless steel cleaning. The Port tack we are currently on, our 6-7nm speed and cutting through waves make the task look unappealing as well as unsafe. It will have to wait until we either have doldrums or our next port. As two plus meter waves continue to jump over the side and over the boat about every 15 minutes or so, it also seems a useless task at this point. It is impossible to get a good feel for the wave sets as there is that one odd wave… it happens about every 10-15 minutes, from an odd angle that it literally comes sweeping the stern in a counter rocking position before twisting back countering itself, and haplessly tossing the inhabitants about inside. This is the wave that we wait for and brace for. The windless days we had in the beginning are no longer.
So what do we do? Besides all the work involved with sailing, and sailing an older boat, we read. I have currently read eight books and have 2 more left! We will watch movies, both on the big screen as well as our computers. We are quickly running out of books. We nap. Working on the computers down below? Blogs? Video? Nope. We should. It is difficult to be down in the cabin, in rolling seas, looking at a tiny screen when it is so beautiful outside. We spend much time napping or reading. Cooking is a sport as opposed to an art, and is not looked forward to. We typically have one larger meal – evening or late afternoon – and snacking the rest of the day. This really isn’t too much different than what we have become used to since having left Washington. We chat, and the subject of the future came up. We have been discussing what options might be over the next couple years. Neither of us seem to have an interest in going around the world, yet there are parts of Indonesia/Micronesia that we would like to see and dive. Do we sail there, see what we want to see, dive what we want to dive and then see if we can work our way back? We have no interest whatsoever in heading north to end up in Alaska to come back down the west coast. That was not a pleasant run for us. Do we try the horse latitudes? Again, watching the timing ever so carefully? That route would be 5200 miles. I can’t say that my heart is in that. We would like to see Chile, Peru, transit the Panama Canal and into the Caribbean waters, but how would we do that and what might that look like? Sailing gives one time to think.
Next up is the crossing of the equator. This pomp and circumstance event is surrounded by many ways of celebrating, I am not sure if some are just an excuse for hazing on the open sea but there does seem to be a few requirements. First and foremost is asking Neptune for blessing to become sons and daughters of the sea and the tradition of becoming a “shellback” (think sea turtle) and sharing of a toast with expensive libation. We planned to use tequila from the country we just came from and wine to symbolize the French who oversee the Polynesian islands. We planned to swim a lap around the boat- sans clothing. As far as eating something out of the garbage…..ick. However, I did happen to save two lovely Starbucks cookies decorated like mermaid tails! Some might consider that garbage but it was something I would put in my mouth! As it turned out, our crossing would appear right at sundown. With the sea still full of rolling waves, and good wind, we were making decent, if not great speed. It would not be safe or prudent to stop for a swim lap around the boat. So the event of stopping would have to be simplified and while our plan was to be somewhat grandiose, we hope that King Neptune would understand. Watch for a video to come out soon, that will show what we did. Meanwhile, I did take a selfie- with our GPS showing 0 degrees North and also 0 degrees South. How crazy is this? I have just crossed the equator. On the Pacific Ocean. On a sailboat. Twenty years ago, if you would have told me that I would be doing this…..
King Neptune must have been okay with our ceremony as he sent a gift. The next day, rather than seeing the usual flying fish – either in the water by the hundreds of a couple in our drain from the night sailing, John and I were sitting in the cockpit reading. I looked up and off to the horizon as we were chatting about something when out of the water jumps a Manta Ray. If it hadn’t cleared the water and waves, I might have second guessed myself. Instead, I knew it immediately but it happened so quickly that I couldn’t direct John to see it. Nor did it repeat itself.
We are about two and a half weeks into this passage. Nights are still difficult. Everything seems different at night. Sounds are magnified. The waves feel larger. The sea seems more confused. The days are pleasant, albeit confused seas and huge rolling waves in the cockpit do not seem to be as concerning as opposed to trying to maneuver below with the boat pitching. For whatever reason, Port tack is more difficult than starboard for me. John takes the brunt of the sail workload by choice. He straps on the harness to the jacklines and goes out on deck for the mainsail. No one goes out on deck without the other being there, regardless of who is on watch. And we try not to make big sail plan changes at night but sometimes it happens. During my watch, I try not to be a chicken little and cry wolf, however the management of sails seems to be brutal and I swear the wind waits until I am on watch as a cruel joke. We have been fortunate that our travel has been well timed with the phases of the moon so we have had great moonlight to travel with. At night, on watch, the stars! Oh my the stars! There are more twinkling lights in the sky than you can imagine. What’s out there? Who is out there? Seeing the Southern Cross, seeing the Milky Way so clearly, you feel so small in this world. The night’s beauty however, is paralleled with the color inspiring palettes of the sunrises, and even more so- the sunsets! Each one different but each so beautiful.
July 9, 2018 – Day 24. The morning began with banging of sails and booms and rocking of the boat as during the night the wind angle shifted and the wind speed varied between 2kn to gusts of 20kn, but ultimately not enough to move the boat. While we did not want to motor, if we wanted to get to where we were going and we didn’t want to swim/pull the boat then we would have to. Ahh, the joys of an old diesel engine. The revving of the engine sound without human assistance always brings the eyelids to close in the for of ‘what now’ form. It would result in the engine then slowing down and turning off. No wind, bobbing in a thankfully calmer sea state than previous, the fuel lines are once again a culprit. New fuel filters in place, and soon we are off again. I make it sound so easy, but you really don’t want to hear the details. John queried if my fatalistic sense meant that we should not be arriving to our destination after dark. No wind, engine issues…maybe. It is never a good idea to enter an unknown anchorage after dark. He felt assured that we would be fine. In the afternoon however, that odd revving sound? Yes, it happened again. And with another check and another fuel filter added, this time surely, we will make it. As the night falls on the quiet pacific, we finish our trek with the iron sails. Land Ho! said I to no one around. john was still down working on the engine or something. It was 5:10pm and I could barely make out the shadow of an island against the clouds. The sun going down made sure that we would have the final inspiration to go on. It has been a long journey. I immediately take account of things I could have completed during this 24 day trek across the Pacific Ocean. Honestly, most days it was all we could do to read a book. 24 days really isn’t that long when you think about it on land. Just over three weeks. However, in a constantly in motion, rolling either side to side or up and down such as riding a horse, it tends to take some of your energy. At least it did for me. I anxiously look forward to the morning, after a restful night’s slumber, to the sight of Hiva O’a and the green spires of the island. Only 2500nm from Cabo San Lucas, MX and 2800nm from Puerto Vallarta, MX, I like to think that our trip was over 3000 as we initiated from Puerto Vallarta. Cabo San Lucas was merely a stopover. An out of the way stopover.
We arrived at night (again, I hate it when we do this practice) and even with his better than most night vision, the anchorage we planned to go in at Hiva O’a was black except for the swinging of anchor lights on top of the mast. It looked rather like an evening Bob Dillan concert with lighters swaying. We knew there is a practice of stern anchors and honestly, there were way more masts than we anticipated. Too big of a risk to go in, So we dug in outside of Atuona in Baie Tahauku. Yes, it was rolly with swells, however, it was 6-7 uninterrupted hours of sleep and that counted for something. While my visual acuity was diminished by the darkness, my sense of smell was heightened. I could smell land, the island, even when I couldn’t make out land lines. I could hear the breakers crashing, roaring, loud and almost with a bang, however it was the scent of perhaps something burning, like leaves? Woodsy? But it wasn’t pine tree woodsy. Was there a hint of floral notes? I spent several minutes taking note of the aroma, the aroma that I would not want to forget. I couldn’t wait until morning. Wait, I could. If it meant sleep! I have so many thoughts going on, however I think I need a day or two to process everything.
Summary list of TOP 3’s
Top 3 things I enjoyed – 1. Weather. Regardless of the wind/sea/weather, the attire did not require more than a swimsuit.
- Time to read. At the end of this passage, I will have read 10 books and viewed a PBS mini series on the Viet Nam war.
- The colors of the sunset, the ocean, the gentle rocking.
Top 3 things I did not enjoy 1. Attempting to cook when especially rolly, but those extra weird waves. .
- Loud noises, especially at night when John was sleeping
- An opportunistic wave that would sneak it and cover areas leaving a wet calling card on my bed
Top 3 things I would haveDone differently
1. Invested time and effort into making frozen, prepared passage foods maybe
- More fans in the boat?
- Taken more photos/video
Top 3 things I did not Expect
1. How many countless stars are out there
- To see very little sea life – what a wonderful treat it is when you do
- How much we would be “heeling” underway and wonder why I prefer one tack over another.
For those who want a “shorter version”
Day 1-Left Cabo San Lucas, Mexico- Here we go- flying at 6.5-8kn! Heading south, after Hurricane Bud but also avoiding Hurricane C. All of the 2018 Pacific Puddle Jumper have left more than a month ago.
Day2-Still flying at 6.5kn. Woot!
Day 3-Where did the wind go? Wing on Wing and A-sail plans. Passing Socorro Islands- what a wonderful treat. Deb wishes we had more time there. Light winds, four sail changes by end of 24 hours. Going with A sail tonight. 12 knots true wind, heading of 250 degrees, crew tired but getting into a groove.
Day 4– Superpod (50-75+) of dolphins, wind frustration. A-Sail again and inconsistent winds. Garmin shows us going past some seamount of note.
Day 5– The marlin that would not be caught. Thankfully. 5 ft Marlin jumped and would have been way too much fish for us to handle or eat. Fish responsibly. Are we lucky enough to have wind again? South, not southwest. A-sail and 5-6kn. Deb super tired. (think Zombie) John sleeps during day. Clear, warmer. Super blue ocean. Cobalt blue. Sailing south and looking at crossing ITCZ around 121 West now.
Day 6– Another superpod of dolphins. No whale sightings. I anticipated patterns of winds dying at night as the sea would lay down. This has not happened.
Day 7-cloudy, had first brief rainstorm and it cooled everything down to about 82degrees F. Both crew are zombies now, thank God for monitor windvane. Best crew next to the electric autopilot. Wind changed last night and did not get good sail combinations for wind and sea state, so not much sleep had by either person. We fixed that at first light and have been cruising along nicely all day. Super clear blue water, seagulls and a few dolphins.
Day 8– “somebody” forgot to check all the hatches before we took large waves over the bow. A small hatch, but an opening none the less, allowed our bed to become a swimming pool! On my way forward to the head, bouncing like “Pong” the original Atari video game, my hand landed in a very squishy soaked spot on our bed. If that doesn’t sink one’s spirits, I’m not sure what would. Never mind that we haven’t been sleeping in the bed due to the port tack and that it is easier for watch to be closer to the electronics. Sailing wing on wing downwind all day. Heading into a large rain storm.
Day 9– made it past whatever the next named storm was to be. We sailed the outer rain band most of yesterday afternoon, last night and this morning. Now working south and west in what is to be starting in the doldrums. Problem is we still have 2 meter seas and light wind. Bouncing. Crew is good.
Day 10- Bashing through the waves… still have wind. We have been sailing close hauled for a day and a half. Where are those trade winds we were promised. We did find a good hole to short cut through an ever crazy and changing ITCZ. Saw some sun for the first time in three days and we “think” the last of the big storms are behind us.
Day 11– What a difference a day makes. We are in the ITCZ but still have wind. We are making south as much as we can but have 2.4 knots of current/drift pushing us east. We decided to take the easting to get south and pick up the south trades when we get there. I think every 10 knots south makes it 1 degree hotter. 93F outside in the shade. Water temp 84F. Everything dried out inside and out. Crew showered. Big gentle rolling seas. Full sails out and 8.2 knots true wind. Big cottonball clouds sprinkled about. Ghosting along.
Day 12– We had a textbook preventer system set up. Just not a text book sail change to handle the 38knot storm winds. Lessons learned and will use an acetylene torch to straighten out the bent stanchion. We started into the ITCZ last night and wind died about 9pm. we dropped sails and drifted all night and slept. Ahh sleep. Today we motored and motor/sailed all day. Made water, charged batteries, cleaned the inside of the boat. Made cookies in the GoSun. John did arts and crafts (boat repair). A full day of reading. Plan is to motor through the night and assess weather in the morning. Trying to get through the doldrums and stay south of the. larger dead zone that’s growing behind us.
Day 13-John posting updates daily on Facebook through Iridium. We are unable to see facebook so we do not know if people are responding to our posts. We are at 6.47n 116.55w. French Polynesia is 1400 SW in front of us, 1100N, Panama is 1400W. we are on the south edge of the ITCZ.
Day 14– Port tack, more frustrating for Deb, especially with galley on port. Wind and direction correct. 2 meter waves that every 15 minutes or so, rise up and sends water sweeping over cabin , followed by a stern swaying maneuver. Not fun. John now having read 2ndbook of Tim Dorsey. He liked the first better, and quite often refers to it. Since passage started, I have read 8 books. Just finished “And the sea will tell” by Bugliosi. Take Palmyra off my list of places to visit! Continuing on 6-7kn speed with winds of 12-20kn.
Day 16– Crossing the equator – appears to be right at sundown. Sea is still full with rolling waves, wind and we are making decent speed. This means the event of stopping for usual and customary pomp and circumstance for King Neptune will have to be simplified in spite of best attempts to be grandiose. Cloudy, several rain showers that were welcomed. Had good wind then not, then wind, then not.
Day 17– A rare occurrence of seeing something other than flying fish, which we have on deck every day, was a jumping Manta Ray, narrowly caught behind us as we were having a conversation and I happened to be looking up from my book. We spend much time napping or reading. Cooking is a sport as opposed to an art, and is not looked forward to. We typically have one larger meal – evening or late afternoon – and snacking the rest of the day. This really isn’t too much different than what we have become used to since having left Washington. Woot! 786 miles to go. We figure on landfall Sunday. Total trip is 2603 miles as a crow flies but boats aren’t crows and we have already sailed 2023 miles. So there are a few zigs and zags in there. 17kn of wind and sunshine.
Day 18– Nights are still difficult. Pleasant days, albeit confused seas and huge rolling waves in the cockpit do not seem to be as concerning as when trying to maneuver below with the boat pitching. For whatever reason, Port tack is more difficult than starboard for me. John takes the brunt of the sail workload, by choice. During my watch, I try not to be a chicken little and cry wolf, however the management of sails seems to be physically brutal. We have been discussing what options might be over the next couple years. 4 days to go. Both are pretty tired today. Last night had really confused seas. Oh nd for all our fellow “Cooking on a boat” folks. Shouldn’t count at anchorages any more. Try this for three weeks in 2 meter seas going 6.5 nots.
Day 19– minimal rest, up every hour, boat sounds like it is coming apart, especially at night. We have been fortunate to have most of the moonlight we have had so far. I have almost exhausted novels brought onboard. I have now finished “Dead Wake” a historical narrative of the Lusitania sinking. Typically not in my repertoire of reading, it was well written and I found myself looking forward to picking up the book. I have saved one for after the crossing- one I have looked forward to since I found it in the La Cruz collection. A reason for hope- Jane Goodall’s memoir. Took a good rounding out of galley with a swell that turns the boat every 10 minutes or so. Pan of rice/corn that I was going to save was the casualty.
Day 20– Finished Vietnam War -10 episode series by Ken Burns. Being on a boat gives lots of time to think. Better nights rest last night. Best accounts are arrival on Monday or Day 24. Typical days of Pacific travel from Mexico are day 19-24, so we are average. This will be to Hiva O’a, our check in for French Polynesia and the Marquesas.
Day 21– Spoke to soon. Deep swells engulfing boat in trough, waves crashing into cockpit, running with small amount of jib. We are both giving energy to being extra patient, which makes tolerating this constant pitching and rolling easier as sometimes it is sooo damn frustrating. The days seem so much nicer, even if overcast. The only time the engine is run, is when batteries need some level of charging and solar has not been able to do its job due to cloud cover. Not giving any interest in cooking. Three more days! Woot! Make some noise! Everything seems damp. We have found a few little leaks but also in areas that get pounded by the waves, primarily on the Port side. Do not like surfing down waves with hair on fire at 1am! For whatever reason the waves get confused at night. All day they are fine. Night comes and the idiot zombie waves show up. Sledge hammer here, plunge anchor in wave there. Sounds like a boat beat down. Inside the boat always sounds way worse and since most of the day is spent in the cockpit, it makes sense. 495 miles to go.
Day 22– The only thing consistent about sailing, is there is nothing consistent! The wind, the waves, the current. Just when you have researched, and even on the move and you have everything dialed in, it changes. The tack we are on hasn’t changed but the sea state has. The wind has increased, decreased, gusted and stopped, changed angle enough that speed was lost. There is a constant attempt to “balance the boat” for maximum comfort and speed. Our spirits are getting better, I think, mostly due to the fact that we are at end, not the beginning of this passage.
Day 23– Less than 200 miles to go. Doesn’t seem like much. 4 hours if you were driving a car on the highway. By wind and sail however, we are still looking at a day and a half. Still, we are on the final stretch when you consider it has been over 2500 miles!!! It’s hard to fathom. I did not know how long time would feel at the beginning of this trip. Excitement can blur the realities of a vision. When everything is settled and things are moving along smoothly, it almost becomes mundane. This mostly due to the lack of sea life we saw. The frustrations of lack of wind, wind direction anticipated, unsettled sea state have now been pushed to the back. We are picking up on our reading of what to expect with arrival and destination. Now, in retrospect, it doesn’t seem like it was that long. When people would ask how long it would take, I would give the standard 21-30 days. Some have done it in 19 days, others have taken over 30. In my mind, I settled for the outside time frame so I am okay with 25 days. I know John would have preferred the 20-21 day frame. I would say that the extra 4 days did not make a difference, however, there were 4 really uncomfortable days that I could have done without.
Day 24– Final day. We will be seeing land today! The wind – has died. The sails began to flog in the wee hours. Batteries need a charge anyway. Making water today to be filled and ready for anchorage. No potable water available in anchorage and no marina to speak of. Engine revving. Engine issues. No wind and changing not one, but two fuel filters! Really. Tiny spaces, bobbing like a cork, John is not having fun. He even said so. With different words. Thankfully, he can fix this. Task completed and we are underway again. A mere few hours later and the engine revs up and dies again. This would be the 2ndof the fuel filters. Back on track again. 1710. 5:10pm. Land Ho!!! A faint outline due to the clouds but there are the mounts of Hiva O’a! We will have arrived.