Tag Archives: light winds

Counting Down the Days

We’ve told people this passage should be expected to take 21 days. This is derived by assuming we will average about 6 knots…approximately 150 miles per day…approximately 1,000 miles per week; 3,000 miles = 3 weeks. We tend to be conservative in such estimates; I was hoping to make it in less than 21 days, because I think we can average better than 6 knots. I had visions of logging a few 200 mile days in the trade winds.

Well, the 200 mile day still eludes us. We’ve done 190 twice, but we’ve had some very light winds on other days. Today is Day 17. We have about 450 miles to go. Three more days.

After 2,500+ miles, we converged today with Tahawus. We can just see them as a speck on the horizon, occasionally rising above the ocean swells. The two of us are sailing “neck and neck.” We pulled ahead, they pulled even, we pulled ahead, they are gaining. I think we do better in some wind strengths; they do better in others.

Our solitude is gone (I can’t help looking at them, or at the general area where they ought to appear if I stare long enough), but at this point we are preparing (mentally) for reentry anyway. Finishing up the favorite foods, since we don’t have to stretch them out beyond three days; learning about the anchorage, and what is required for formalities in entering French Polynesia; realizing that we don’t know anything about cruising in the Marquesas. Luckily, as part of the BPO rally, we have someone meeting us at Hiva Oa who can help us get oriented. Three days…

Halfway Day

Today, Day 10, around dinner time, we crossed the half way point. To celebrate, we made a coconut carrot cake (with no recipe — why don’t we have a cookbook on board…?), which was delicious.

It’s been a beautiful day, the breeze a little cool, the blues of the ocean and sky seeming to have extra richness. The wind has been light. These light winds can be frustrating, but today I didn’t much care, as it was a joy just to be gliding smoothly along at a tranquil six knots.

Tim took the relative calm as an opportunity to work on our port engine, which acted up the day we left the Galapagos. (We had a two minute conversation about turning back, but we figured we didn’t really need the engine for the ensuing three weeks, and repairs in French Polynesia seem equally plausible as repairs in the Galapagos.) We have diesel getting into the engine oil. Our hypothesis is that the fuel lift pump diaphram has failed (a common problem, according to our Calder reference book). We have a spare, and switching to the spare was Tim’s project today. He seems to have been successful, but it will be another day for the gasket goo to harden before we can try it. He couldn’t detect any problem with the old pump that he removed though, so we may need another hypothesis…

Bill took the relative calm as an opportunity to put an adhesive patch on our torn screecher. We’ve been using the big sail in stronger winds than it was designed for, and we got a two foot long tear in it. Now it is patched, but we’re not sure how strong the patch adhesive will be, so we will only be using the sail in very light winds. (Our winds are mostly light, but they come and go. When they come, they tend to be too much for the screecher.)

I baked bread and the Halfway Cake.

Being half way it was Bill’s opportunity to say if he wanted to switch night watches with me, so he could do the early watch, and I take on the middle of the night watch. But he says he is happy with the present schedule, which suits me just fine.

So I’m on my night watch (now 7:30 – 11:30 by our local “boat time”). And it’s a beautiful night. Just enough chill in the wind for a fleece over the T-shirt/shorts. Intense stars. No moon. Venus low in the western sky casting a reflected glow on the ocean. The bowl of the big dipper pointing toward the North Star, now well below our horizon. Opposite it the Southern Cross pointing at the empty space where the “South Star” would be if there was one. The Milky Way rather dim in the north, and growing brighter in the south, and brightest just before the Southern Cross, then petering out at our southern horizon. And what’s that faint glow about 20 degrees west of the Milky Way, and maybe 20 degrees away from the south celestial pole — no individual stars there but a definite patch of lightness? It must be a cluster of an unimaginable number of stars, and unimaginable distance away…?

An occasional shooting star. Not many, though. And THERE, a star is moving! A satellite heading south right past Orion’s belt. Funny how it is hard to spot satellites, but then suddenly one jumps out at you. At least, that’s my experience. This one passes behind the jib. I don’t want to move from my reclined position on the cockpit seat, so I wait what I estimate is the right interval and then try to find it again on the other side of the jib. But even when I know it must be there, I can’t spot it.

While thinking of things celestial, it is equinox time, which drives home the point that we will increasingly be looking to the north at the sun. Disorienting for a Northerner like me!