Course 6.5 Knots @ 230° True
Wind 15 Knots @ 060° True
1012 mb (atmospheric pressure)
08° 09′ N
125° 43′ W
It is now 9 a.m. our time and Delos is 1,400 miles from the coast of Mexico and another 1,350 miles from our first land fall in Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia. Above is the last entry into the boats log book. We try and log every hour but sometimes forget due to how busy we are reading or starring at the water. The time is given in UTC (Universal Time Coordinated) also known as GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), which is the current time in Greenwich, England. Its been used as a standard since the 18th century when used to calculate your longitude by knowing the local time in Greenwich. Our speed over ground and our course direction, the wind speed and direction, atmospheric pressure to know if we have suddenly hit a low or high area and finally our current position all get written down. All this information is really important to see how things are changing and to plan our future course. We also leave some room to write what is currently happening. Next to a log entry, for example, might say “We almost just hit a whale” or “Lost another lure to a big fish” or “Wow we aren’t even half way there after a week of constant sailing”.
You know the feeling when you’re on a plane, pass out and then you’re woken up by rolling and turbulence? That’s exactly what it feels like sailing across an ocean, only instead of a four or five hour flight it lasts 20-something days. I think we have gotten used to the constant motion and I actually sleep pretty well with the rocking motion
The day usually starts between 6 a.m. and noon depending on what watch schedule I was the previous night and what it is for that day. The hardest thing is that first step once leaving the bed. Your body still has to take a minute and readjust to the rolling and pitching of the house you have woken up in. I seem to always wake up sore. I’m sure it’s caused by my muscles contracting and then releasing 24 hours a day. Even during the night my muscles are working to keep me steady. To keep from falling out of bed while sleeping we have leeboards which is a piece of wood about eight inches high running the length of the bed. It really has saved me from rolling onto the floor on some bumpy nights. Next, is coffee and some sort of food. Usually, breakfast consists of a granola bar or oatmeal. The whole rest of the day is made up of repeating tasks, not in any specific order or at any specific time These include; checking our fishing lines, reading, listening to music, checking the sails and wind direction to make sure our course is efficient, and of course starring off at nothing then reading some more.
At around 6 P.M. on days we remember to put beer in the freezer it’s “happy hour”. This isn’t happy hour the rest of the world knows because obviously it would be a bad idea to get wasted while our house is moving and rocking around in the middle of nowhere. We enjoy one ice cold beer each and take a break from our reading or whatever else we were doing to sit on the side of the boat and relax (as if we hadn’t been relaxing all day).
Luckily writing this blog reminded me to put some beers in the freezer so it looks like we will have a happy hour today.
After our “happy few minutes”, what is known in the cruising world as The Net starts on the single side band radio. It is run by a volunteer who usually changes every day and is used to connect cruisers all the way from the coast of Mexico to French Polynesia and beyond using a high frequency radio wave. First is to check for emergencies or any priority traffic. Next, the net controller asks vessels to check in with their name, call sign, persons on board, location, speed and heading, barometric pressure, sea state, weather state and any other important related sailing conditions. The net controller repeats the information back to ensure it is accurate and moves on to ask if there is any traffic for this vessel. Traffic is not any ships or other boats in your vicinity like I originally thought. They are simply asking if you would like to contact anyone on the frequency or if anyone would like to contact you. The particular Net we check into is the Pacific Puddle Jump which refers to the “puddle” that we are jumping between Mexico and the Marquesas. The Net is our entertainment for the day where we can talk to other boats to discuss fishing, sailing conditions, or anything really. The whole show lasts about an hour and by the time it’s over the sun has set.
Although we have a watch schedule for 24 hours, during the day it is pretty informal. Usually all of us are up until about 9 p.m. when the first real watch by yourself starts and runs to midnight where you happily wake the next person up for their shift and get some sleep until you are happily woken up when it’s your turn again. So, from 7 p.m. to about 9 p.m. we eat dinner and watch It’s always sunny in Philadelphia or a movie on the outside computer screen that double as our GPS, Radar, and Course Plotter. Erin is a really good cook and pre-cooked a lot of meals that are frozen and pretty easy to prepare. If we catch a Mahi-Mahi or a Tuna that will of course be our dinner for the night.
Just now as I was typing one of our reels went off. Because we are on a sailboat fishing is much harder. You can’t just put the boat in reverse and back down while reeling in the fish like a power boat can do. We have to try and take the sails down as fast as possible to slow the boat down and reduce the drag and pull caused by the fish and boat going opposite directions. We have 50 lb test line and about 3 feet of 250lb leader on off shore poles but we are still breaking lines and have so far lost 6 lures over the past week. This one was no exception; the reel let out about 400 yards of line until we had to try and fight back and the line broke. These fish must be pretty damn big to snap a line like that with no problem. Brian turned to me and said “Well it looks like we need to buy some monster reels and at least 100lb test line” which is what we say every time the fish wins the battle. Unfortunately, the Marquesas being the remote desolate islands they are, most likely won’t have any good fishing supplies. We will probably have to wait until we make it to Tahiti or do some trading with other sailboats. Apart from the two poles we also have two hand lines which tie directly to the stern of the boat and have 250lb test on them. For some odd reason we haven’t caught a fish on these yet, they tend to keep going for our weaker poles as if they know they will probably win.
Today has been a good day. I finished a really good book about surfing, science and religion called West of Jesus and also finished Scar Tissue by Anthony Kedis, the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I may even shower today, who knows?
At our current speed and course we should make it to the Marquesas in 12 days or less. This all depends on the wind of course and how long it takes us to cross south through the ITCZ where there is a gap between the bottom of the Northern hemisphere trade winds and where the Southern hemisphere trade winds begin. It is commonly known as the doldrums and has very inconsistent wind and storms. Hopefully we can make it through without slowing too much.