PACIFIC CROSSING UPDATE: DAY 16
I was pleased to find out that yesterday, despite the seemingly relaxed pace, we still managed to get 107 miles under our belt. We were expecting a squally night, but again, we escaped unscathed with consistent wind through the entire night. Is it possible that we can sail through the entire ITCZ? I am actively knocking on wood. There looks to be a big dead spot just south east of us (our current position is 8 33N, 127 17W). We'll see if we can get west enough to avoid it. Regardless, the next few days may see sub-10 kt winds, so we may have to bust out the spinnaker again. Certainly not the worst case to run some diesel through the engine, but I rather like the idea of sailing the entire way.
In other news, it's safe to say that we're at the point in the trip where the most mundane things are becoming daily highlights. For example, this morning we saw a yellow hard-hat floating upside down past the boat. Daily highlight! Yesterday, I discovered a sack of rancid frijoles in my dresser (which is now apparently a pantry). We removed the offending bean-bag, and Stuart and Chase had to admit that it was not my dirty laundry they were smelling. Daily highlight! I think my daily highlight tonightwill be when we can clearly see the outline of the Marquesas and our "current position" arrow on the same zoom level on the Navionics chart. Since we've left, the islands have been too small in relation to our position for Navionics to show the distinct outline on a chart (instead, just putting the name "Marquesas" where the islands should be). In about 40 more miles, we should be able to see the islands in relation to our position! Can you feel the unbridled passion through your screen as I type?!?! Not bored yet, I swear.
I'm going to take a stab and guess Stuart and Chase's daily highlights before they have a chance to write. Stuart is going to write about how he discovered that we have the entire Master and Commander book series on our hard-drive, and Chase is *definitely* going to write about his long overdue boat shower. I guess we can check back tomorrow to see how I did. I guarantee their daily highlight won't be my continued domination in Rummy 500. Chase may have had a daily highlight when he was at 470 points out of 500, but he certainly did not have a daily highlight when I came up from a 100 point deficit to take the lead! This is our social currency, folks.
We continue to charge south! A vast ocean lies ahead, but a vaster one lies behind (if it works like that). 3 dudes, 1 boat, 6 armpits. Hee-ya!
Here is something I'm a little confused about. There is that old sailing legend where seeing a seabird indicates that you are nearing land. We've had birds circling the Sea Casa since we left Mexico and we are, what, 1400nm from land? Around halfway to the Marquesas. What's the average day in the life for one of these birds? Do they sleep floating in the ocean? What water do they drink? These are important questions that must be answered! I've got all the time in the world to think about these things and I am stumped.
Today is Day 16, which is more than two weeks and considerably less than three. We've established a solid rhythm and are just really enjoying it. Connor mentioned in his blog post that it's now the mundane happenings that become the daily highlights - which is certainly true. It's tough to distinguish between days, and if you asked me about "day 11" I would not be able to tell you a thing. So far, this passage is just a series of very random, salient events: the day Chase saw a floating sandal, the day Connor played two jokers in the same meld of Rummy 500 precipitating a rule challenging standoff, or (OR!) the day I found out we had all of the Master and Commander novels in our kindle library (just this morning).
Let's see... I went to sleep last night in ominous cloud cover and was awoken for watch at midnight in the most beautiful, clear, and starry night. And it stayed that way, for the most part, throughout my entire three hour shift. Off our bow we did have some rather dark looking clouds that would light up with electrical activity every so often. The beauty of sailing in this grand of scale and at this pace is that you can watch weather develop and pass miles and miles away from you with some careful course correction (knock on wood).
One final question: Since turning south we've been treated to a perfect view of the Southern Cross constellation off our port bow. I've never listened too closely to the words of the Crosby, Stills, and Nash song "Southern Cross" but this morning Connor told me that it is based on an actual passage to the Marquesas undertaken by one of the band-members. Is this true? There's no wikipedia out here and I need details!
Day 16, and the most exciting news is that we’re about to try the last new Tang flavor before we start having to repeat. Oh well, it’s been a good run. And I forgot to mention that a large flying fish landed in my lap during night watch two nights ago! I would have written about it but was a little distracted with the whole French press thing. Thanks to all who wrote in and told me to suck it up and drink the cowboy coffee, but when you’re on the kind of trip that only lets you pack two pairs of underpants for an entire year, you learn to appreciate the few luxuries you can find; drinking coffee without having to pick it out of my teeth afterward is one of those luxuries.
We’re still making great time through the ITCZ, and hope to be out of it by late tonight. No rain yet, winds are strong, spirits are high, and even though we must sound like a broken record by this point, it’s quite a pleasant broken record. And I showered on deck today, which means all three of us are feeling much better!
Even with the original food schedule I put together, meal planning continues to be an adventure as I bluff my way through three meals a day. It’s been a fun challenge rearranging the same ingredients into new dishes (Cuban sandwiches featuring lunch meat ham and pickles we brined in seawater!), and I’m lucky that nobody in the crew is a picky eater. I’ve been pretty impressed with how well all of our food has kept; we’ve only had to toss two oranges, an avocado, and unfortunately, two things of hummus that started getting super moldy even while they were still sealed and in the fridge. We’re essentially out of produce by this point (a few oranges and tangerines are holding on for dear life), but luckily we still have at least four or five hundred cans of black beans left.
So that’s pretty much it! I’m going to miss the consistency of winding down each day by getting my backside handed to me by Connor in rummy, but I guess we have to hit land at some point. Happy Thursday, we’ll be back at it tomorrow.