Monday, February 24, 2014

Marquesas to Tuamotus - Day 1: Slow Start

Time: 1735UTC, COG 220T, SOG 5.3kts, Distance Remaining: 411nm

As a side note I want to apologize for the crappy quality of the photos in the previous blog (I will improve them in the future) and for the old location status "Ua Pou" to the right. Blame the lack of (decent) internet in our last anchorage. We are underway now and Mark will update our position on the map daily.

The weather looked promising when we lifted anchor in Hakamaii, Ua Pou around 8am this morning. While the villagers went to church, I hauled Mark up the mast to check the rigging and by the time the service finished, we were underway. The land effect kept our progress to a minimum for quite some time. A massive pod of dolphins sent us off towards the Tuamotus. Floating in the water, swimming back and forth, they got slightly bored with our idleness in the water, but they didn't give up. When we finally gained some speed, so did they. It was a sight to behold.

Ua Pou became smaller, while the distance to the atoll of Apataki slowly shortened. By 1pm the last island of the Marquesas was gone, swallowed up by the clouds. We were all alone in the big, wide ocean. We checked the instruments. We adjusted them. We checked the sails. We adjusted them. We ate fruit. Lots of fruit. As usual at sea, we need to consume bananas as quickly as possible. They are turning yellow as we speak! When the sun makes us drowsy, we take a nap.

A few hours into the trip, the weather did its own Pacific thing again: it changed without any reason. The wind speed dropped five knots and later on even ten (!) knots, the direction became less favorable. At one point, it shifted 60°! All of a sudden we couldn't stay on course anymore. Our speed dropped from an expected 6 knots to 5.5 (required to get there in four days), to 5 and less. By 4pm we were sailing under main sail only and barely doing 3 knots. Half a knot of that was current. Now what? And, today was supposed to be our fastest day, since the wind speed is predicted to go

We hoped for more wind. We asked for more wind. We screamed for more wind. All the while wondering how the breeze could be so inconsistent and unpredictable on this ocean. There were no squalls nearby and we were far from the equator! Our only explanation were the gray clouds in the area or a weather system further away. By 6:30pm, my bedtime, our situation had improved some and we were sailing under full sails again. A boobie (brown and white seabird) landed on the solar panels and joined us for the ride.

Fast forward six hours. Irie is cruising along at more than five knots. The wind keeps fluctuating a bit, there are some squalls around and a skinny moon tries to pop out. Wherever not obscured by clouds, the stars twinkly. Our winged hitchhiker is still here, taking a nap, and so is Mark. We are comfortably sailing for now, so no complaints! :-)

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