Thursday, February 27, 2014

Marquesas - Tuamotus: Day 4 - No Wind

Time: 1740UTC, COG 230T, SOG 3.0kts, Distance Remaining: 89nm

When we left Ua Pou on Sunday, we knew the wind would become lighter towards the end of the trip. That's why we needed to make some decent progress the first couple of days, and why we were disappointed we didn't. But, it can always get worse... the wind could die. Totally. Not something we expected.

After a pretty crappy night, we took the mainsail down and put the spinnaker up at first light (5:30am). The wind was light, but - by then - we were happy to do 3 knots. Most of the squalls went around us, until the one at noon. It was a big and nasty one, messing with the wind direction, creating
contrary winds, and dumping a lot of rain. Down came the spinnaker and on the engines. The massive cloud refused to move and we became trapped in it, until we decided to slow the boat down, so it could get ahead and leave us alone. That done, the bright sun came back.

The sky turned blue - not another cloud to be seen - and the ocean had an ever deeper hue of blue. It was hot. And... there was no wind. The squalls had taken it all with them. The prediction was still for 10 knots of wind, but instead there was zero. Nothing. Not a hint of breeze. The spinnaker hung limp on the foredeck and had to be taken down. Irie was floating on the calm water and it was quiet. No rushing of the waves, no spinning of the wind generator, no creaking of the lines, no whooshing of the sails. We were done!

Since the forecast called for ever lighter winds, this was not a good sign. We still had 130 miles to go and had come to terms with not getting there in four days. What we couldn't come to terms with was not getting there at all! We drifted for a few hours. Then, we turned the engines on. It was loud, super-hot and smelly. A sense of despair came over us. Motoring for 25 hours would empty the fuel tank, wear the engines down tremendously - and us even more - and would get us to the Apataki lagoon about 17 hours too soon. Off went the engines, and peace returned.

The slightest wisp of air was felt. A smile returned to our faces. The spinnaker showed her colors and - at 3 knots - we moved forward again. How happy one can be with such a small commodity as 5 knots of wind! And that is what it has been blowing ("fluttering" might be a more appropriate word
here) since last night: 2 - 5 knots. Irie is sailing towards Apataki at barely 2 knots an hour. We still have about 100 miles to go and need to do an average of 3 knots to make it there by tomorrow morning!

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