Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gambier to Marquesas - Day 4: Clear Skies

Time: 2315UTC, COG 336T, SOG 5.0kts, Distance Remaining: 270nm

The eastern sky turned red, while the sun tried to break through a veil of
clouds. From the moment night turned into dawn, I looked behind us, in
search of the ominous front. It looked much smaller than before and far
enough away to not worry about it anymore. It had either stalled, or we had
outrun it, doing less than 4 knots overnight! The effects of a front can be
noticed hundreds of miles away, so we had to keep moving, eager to reach the
magic latitude 17S, which we did at 2pm. By then the cold front had
dissipated, just like the puffy clouds on the horizon, and the only
inconvenience we suffered from, were unpredicted light winds. I started to
wonder what five knots of speed felt like again...

Today was SSS-day: sun, shower, solitude. Two of these things we really
enjoy, three if the water is warm. Which it was, the sun finally being hot
enough to heat the sun-shower up. No more boiling tap water to fill the bag;
treat number one! The solitude made the bathing experience more pleasant. We
have been all alone here, in the middle of the ocean. The only other life we
have seen is a few birds. Unfortunately no dolphins, yet.

The biggest treat of them all, today, was the sun, ever stronger in a
perfectly blue sky. Another layer of clothing was stripped off, and then the
last one... Even the breeze felt warm and the thought "Pffff, I'm feeling
hot," crossed my mind. Was that sweat? We have been so sun-deprived lately,
that I embraced the warmth with all I had, spending the whole day on deck,
in the unobscured sun. Not into sunbathing by any means, today I made an
exception and I enjoyed every bright moment of it! Did I use sunscreen? Of
course... not. Did my face get burnt? Of course. This is called
over-indulgence. Everybody takes part in that sometimes, right? For the
first time in three months, we ate our meals in the cockpit. Yes, today was
a happy day!

Mark and I have been listening to the "Top 500 Best Songs of All Time"
compiled by Rolling Stones magazine. Ma and pa would like it. Lots of
oldies; or do you call them classics? We listen and enjoy, sometimes singing
along with the lyrics, or something close to them. Lots of The Beatles and
The Stones. After three days, the best part is over, I think.

Yesterday night started with a giant grey mass looming behind us. We
"escaped". Tonight, we sail towards a grey band of lower hanging clouds. We
call it a warm front and have no idea what it will do to us. This massive,
out-stretched, stationary front has been sitting near the Marquesas for over
a week, which is rare. By now, it should have disappeared, but instead, it
is still there. Worse even, it has reversed its course (ever heard of a
southwest moving front in the Pacific? Another first?) and is coming our
way. At some point soon, we are bound to collide with it. The good news is
that the wind and wave predictions do not mention any anomalies. We expect
some squalls and a lot of rain. But, what do we know about weird moving warm
fronts? Maybe it evaporates as well?

Once night fell, the weather made up for its previous "flaws". It is blowing
a perfect 10-15 knots and Irie is sailing a glorious 5-7 knots on a beam
reach, her fastest point of sail. While earlier today, we needed to catch
the wind on our side and head up a bit to gain some momentum, being off
course, now we don't have to do any effort to sail straight to our
destination in the east winds. Waves and wind on the beam (side) mean a
bumpier ride, but we'll take it for now. You can't have it all, sailing on
the vast ocean, and today we've been lucky. The bliss might even last a full
and rarely experience 24 hours!

Since I probably should avoid the sunshine the coming days and we have to
skip more and more songs as the Top 500 progresses, I wonder what I will do
tomorrow. On a weeklong passage, I have no problem being a bum. So far we
have been lazy about baking and trolling a line. The baguettes are devoured
and the pre-cooked meals are gone. Maybe it is time to make some bread and
catch some fish? Or, I could do plain old nothing again! :-)

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