Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Marquesas - Tuamotus: Day 3 - From Fun to Frustration

Time: 1735UTC, COG 214T, SOG 4.0kts, Distance Remaining: 162nm

The first two days of a longer voyage are always the hardest. You have to get used to constantly being in motion, having to hold on to something at all times and staying up half of the night. All you really want to do is sleep; there is not much interest in anything else and the night shifts take forever. On day three some kind of routine has been established and you feel more inclined to do something productive, like taking a shower, making more fruit salad, or fish, for example.

From the moment the sun came up, we flew our spinnaker (colorful light air sail), while being able to keep the main sail in place. We managed to maintain five knots of speed in ten knots of wind and stayed on course. Not bad! It was a lovely day with sunshine and blue skies, void of squalls. The
sea was as comfortable as it gets, while still being "sailable" and we both enjoyed the ride. We did have to run the engine for a bit to charge the batteries, a necessary evil, but easier than rigging our little generator up.

In the afternoon, Irie drove through a big school of tuna. We did hook one: a fat and tasty yellow fin! But, from the moment we hauled him aboard, he got off the hook. No sushi for us - what a shame and disappointment. Luckily, we still had other food, which we cooked ahead of time. And, lots
of fruit, of course. :-)

Because of the light winds, we wanted to fly the spinnaker as long as possible during the day. Just as I finished up the dishes and we were ready to take the sail down, a squall surprised us with some wind and lots of rain; the exact situation you try to avoid when the spinnaker is in place (and the reason we take it down at night)... With fluky winds, it might end up in the water, where you can run over it, or in heavy winds, it might rip. In this case, we saved it from dipping in the salty ocean and managed to take it down. Everything - us included - was soaking wet, and enjoying turned into annoying.

The wind never restored itself and with the jib instead of the spinnaker we lost speed regardless. During Mark's shift, we moved 10° off course at 4 knots. At midnight, it was my turn at the helm and I was welcomed by a radar screen cluttered with squalls. One rainstorm after the other arrived, sucking out the little wind we had. For hours I sat in the rain and wished for the wind to come back. Floating on an ocean doing less than 2 knots is frustrating to say the least. Not only are you not making any progress, but - no matter how calm the sea - the incessantly flapping sails and erratically banging rigging would drive the most patient person crazy! Plus, no sleep for the person off watch either.

Finally, some breeze arrived, albeit 50° more northerly than predicted, which had us sailing 35° off course. Not something we could make up easily. I watched the phenomenon for another hour and then decided to get rid of the jib all together and adjust course. We had lost enough time and ground. And that's where we are at right now: sailing along at 3 knots and still 15° off course. When the sun wakes up at 6am, we will hang our spinnaker out to dry, if it is not too squally. The mainsail will have to come down and then there's hoping for another fun sail and making Apataki in time...

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