Not So Peaceful Pacific

Monday 21st March 2016

Position : 06 46 S, 107 10 W (middle of the Pacific Ocean, a long way from anywhere)

Last night we reached 10,000nm sailed on Raya, almost exactly a year since our first post-refit sail. All that seems a very long time ago now, a lot of water has past under our keel since then. We still get things wrong sometimes but we are gradually moving towards the accolade of Salty Old Sea Dogs. Actually the Salty and Old bits seemed to have come rather too easily, the Sea Dog status is more of a challenge.

It’s been a relatively eventful trip so far. We were given a fitting farewell to the Galapagos by a clutch of penguins dodging and diving, fishing around the boat. This helped to cheer me up as I painfully applied antiseptic to a large graze I had acquired, tripping up a high pavement, returning to the boat with last minute supplies.

As we sailed away we glimpsed a whale and were treated to a final formation fly-past by a flock of blue footed boobies. Alas, down below things were not so good, Rick was up to his elbows in diesel unblocking a fuel pipe to the generator. From the evidence of the filters and now this blockage, it looks like the fuel we picked up in either Panama or Galapagos wasn’t that clean.

The sailing was great however with flattish seas and F4 winds, we made good progress. To top it off on day two we finally properly saw our first whale, a couple of short finned pilot whales swimming with a pod of dolphins.

But the status quo doesn’t last long at sea and we were soon becalmed and the motor was on. The drop in the wind was expected and one of the reason we were sailing south west rather than directly west out of Galapagos. The southeast trade winds were forecast at below about 4 degrees south, the decision was how much to motor using our precious fuel knowing we had nearly 2500nm still to go, to get us down to them. Our patience, especially mine, is not great but after about nine hours of motoring we managed to coax the sails into taking us along at 6kts.

We now, six days in, have good winds and are sailing fast straight for Marquesas, if we keep these sorts of speeds up it should make for a quick trip. We are paying for it however with a 3m swell on our beam, making life, especially below, rather uncomfortable. The skies have been grey for the past few days, with a scattering of showers making the nights dark. On the upside the watch system with three of us on board is working well, after a couple of nights pairing with Rick, Ian is now happy doing a watch on his own which means we are doing 3hrs on, 6hrs off. Six hours of sleep seems like luxury on passage and we are all relatively rested despite the conditions.

The flying fish are again doing their thing and landing on the boat throughout the night. As well as the normal scattering on the deck, we have had one baked in the morning sun stuck to the large salon windows,  a squid (how does a squid fly?…) on the coach roof, one that flew right up onto the Bimini roof and bounced back into the sea and one that like a guided missile came out of the water and hit Rick straight in the eye!
Surprisingly we have seen quite a few boats, yesterday we were checked out by a navy vessel, they didn’t come close enough for me to ascertain their nationality but in away it is comforting to see them around and about and a large tanker slid by on the horizon enroute to South America. More difficult were the five or so vessels from a Japaneese fishing fleet we came across during the night. As they are following the fish, turning this way and that their route it is difficult to judge, especially the one boat that didn’t have AIS. Luckily they were not hard to see being nearly 200ft long and lit up like Christmas trees.
A few days ago getting into the rhythm of the sea we relaxed and were enjoying the ride. Relaxed a bit too much maybe, the winds were freshening and we decided to put a reef in the main before darkness fell. Disaster, a lapse of concentration and a gust of wind popped our super sensitive inmast furling system again. Rick has reefed the mainsail by hand to about two thirds which should be ok for the whole passage but does mean when we get to Hiva Oa the first island we visit in the Marquesas group, we will have to find somewhere safe to detach the boom – probably at anchor?!?

Add to that the fact that I have, fighting with the swell, just managed to tip the omelette egg mix on to the galley flour not once but twice! You see this Sea Dog stuff is not as easy as it sounds.

2 thoughts on “Not So Peaceful Pacific

  1. well I suppose it was to be expected that things would get slightly more hairy once you hit the pacific – still sounds as if you are coping – look forward to the next posts. Love to both


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