Passage to Marquesas: Day 20

Author: Pete
Location: 09°20.505S 132° 03.359W
Date: 11:00 April 18 to 11:00 April 19


Day 20 at sea.

At this very moment we are 400 miles from Hiva Oa. The wind stayed low today, but constant today, going our way. Put up the spinnaker and ran downwind like a leaf on a pond. A really heavy leaf on a really, really big pond. Without much else to do on watch tonight, I crunched the numbers. If the boat was a leaf the size of your hand, a pond the size of our Galapagos-Marquesas passage would be 54 miles long. Go math!



Made a pretty good split pea and ham soup today for dinner. It has been easy to cook with the recent light seas. Or maybe we’re just getting used to the motion. I suppose after 20 days, you’d hope we’d get used to it. I’m afraid that after this trip we will all find ourselves propped next to solid objects when we stand still anywhere, as we are obliged to do on the boat. Try it. Sit, kneel, or lean any time you stop moving, and grab onto things for support as you walk around your house. It’s the behavior of a drunk man. We really perambulate like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Depth sounder reads last recorded depth once it can’t see the bottom anymore. It shows you that it can’t see the bottom anymore by blinking. So usually, the depth meter gives a blinking readout somewhere between 90 and 120 meters (~300 ft), where the sonar effectively lost the bottom. This transducer is not a fish finder. It’s only meant to read the bottom. We’ve sailed over schools of fish, dolphins, and frothy, wave whipped water, with no discernible change in the depth readout. Once in a while something spooky happens. The depth sounder will jump from 90 meters, to 3 meters, as if something was swimming under the boat. Something big. And it’s only there for a second, passing, and then is gone. But the depth sounder records the last position it saw the bottom, or something so big it appeared to be the bottom. Something 3 meters… some 10 feet under the boat. It’s blinking like that right now… Eventually we switch it off to reset it, but it’s a creepy feeling to see that happen.


Making contact through the Manihi station in the Tuamotu islands, French Polynesia. Bodes well for our progress. Clear night. Fabulous stars. Light wind and seas. All quiet and good aboard.


Passage to Marquesas: Day 19

Author: Pete
Location: 09°15.981S’ 130°03.656W’
Date: 11:00 April 17 to 11:00 April 18


Day 19 at sea.

The wind was low again today, so we motored through the calm. Made for good reading. The last day we motored on this trip was April 1st. This is pretty cool for us since we’ve been under renewable power (solar, wind, towing) and haven’t had to use the engines, or gas generator for over 2 1/2 weeks! Think about not using ANY power for 2 1/2 weeks in your house. Feels good to have a balanced boat, despite our loads, mostly the watermaker, refrigeration, and autohelm, but also electronics, and lights. We’ve had it balanced at anchor, but having the towing generator pumping out ~3-4 extra amps makes all the difference at sea. We could have gone longer too, but we fired up the engines for propulsion. The batteries were getting a little low in the last days since we had low wind, boat speed, and cloudy skies. We didn’t make water in the last 2 days. So we’re happy to have excess energy for a bit, as well as hot water for showering.





The wind came back up this evening. I helped Miranda put up the sails at 22:00 when the squalls died down and the wind filled in more consistently. Now we’re reaching at six knots in 13 knots of wind. Happy to be under sail again.



We don’t worry too much about the days racking up with slow transit. Although a boat in our fleet, Tallulah Ruby, has done this passage in 16 days, our friend Nadine took 29 days to do it. Another boat we’ve heard of skipped Galapagos and went straight from Panama, taking a whopping 55 days at sea! Yikes.

DSC_3483 DSC_3489


We’ve been finding a couple flying fish on deck most mornings. After one particularly rowdy night, Felix found nine aboard in the trampoline! They flap around and leave fish scales sloughed off on the deck as they try to flop back into the water. You don’t often look at your hull sides when you’re on a passage, but I began to notice that there is fish scale spatter in concentrated patches all over the hulls, even on the inside up under the trampoline. The schools of flying fish get spooked by the boat and try to buzz away to safety, only to slam into our hulls, occasionally ending up on deck too. There must be many of them careening head-long into our boat, because there are 3 or 4 square foot patches of clinging scale all over. They look like shimmering feathers in the sunlight. Eventually it’ll look like Tayrona is molting. Gross.



Luckily for us (unluckily for them, I suppose) at least we can “recycle” the poor buggers at bait fish.




Tonight is moody and cloudy, with chop coming in broadside to the boat. Makes for a jerky night. All good aboard.


Passage to Marquesas: Day 18

Author: Pete
Location: 09°04.752S 128°06.807W
Date: 11:00 April 16 to 11:00 April 17


Day 18 at sea.

Sailing through lines of squalls today with generally light winds. At some point we were only making 2 knots, so we did some swimming/dragging off the transom, trailing a line to haul ourselves back to the boat. Foolishly, the line we chose to drag was dark blue. Jumping in, I found myself with the rapture of the deep, looking straight down into cerulean blue thousands of feet straight down. Upon surfacing, I realized that the dark blue line blended in nicely with the dark blue water and the boat was moving away. Liza pointed at the line and I swam that way with plenty of time to grab it. Will use white line next time. Also, two knots doesn’t feel like much when you’re on the boat, but trailing behind it on a rope, two knots is pretty fast. Enough to take your drawers off.










In the afternoon we couldn’t keep the spinnaker inflated as the true wind speed dropped below 4 knots so we doused it and fired up the iron gennies. Motoring is not without its merits. We charged up the batteries and everything else aboard and had hot showers all round!

It’s been fantastic flying the spinnaker for days on end. The boat looks nice and clean with the sails all furled up and the big blue, pink, and purple chute billowing out front, dragging us along downwind. It’s quiet, doesn’t luff or pop much even in very light wind. Not much trimming as long as she’s inflated. Makes for great afternoon shade of the hammock for reading and keeping watch. The following seas roll up under the boat and gush between the two hulls. It is, as they say, smooth sailin’.




We did get a fish bite yesterday evening! We all finished dinner with a great sunset and were all busying ourselves downstairs in the boat. We all heard the same zzzzz sound, but thought it was someone winching in a line, until we realized that we were all in the boat! So we ran outside and Felix tried to pull the line in with no avail. Too big to hand line! Couldn’t crank it with the reel either! Some sort of monster. It pulled out our spool for a few minutes, and then inexplicably spit the lure out. Or perhaps we ripped it free. Either way… something BIG was on the end of it. Not sure we could have eaten something that size!


In other exciting news, I saw a boat yesterday! It was a freighter heading almost are reciprocal course. I was at the bow watching the stars spin over the course of my three hour shift. There’s always a few near the horizon that look like boats, but in minutes they dive out of view. This one moved east along the horizon and over the course of a half hour I made out the bow light, then navigational lights. I lit it up with radar, not out of necessity on a clear night, but out of sheer interest. She passed five miles north of us making 13 knots according to our AIS. It didn’t register a name. In all these wide waters, five miles is pretty close. It’s all too easy to get complacent about the insulating, protective isolation. You almost feel indignant when someone sneaks over the horizon and into your little bubble.



But tonight it’s pretty quiet. Motoring through heavy rain. Radar and AIS are blazing away, so we shouldn’t have too many surprises. The wind and sea state are calm, making for an easy ride. More to come.