Friday, April 17, 2015

Day 4: Big Zero

So I made smug comments in a post before we left, about how we aren't the hyper-organized cruisers who rely on an i-app of some kind to catalog our stores. I think my point was that we're too laid back for that fussiness. Well, Mr. Laid Back spent much of today looking for 7 pounds of pasta shells that are aboard, somewhere. I've been upside down with a flashlight in my mouth peering into the deepest corners of Del Viento. I've unpacked and re-packed more than you can imagine would even fit aboard. I can't find them.

But, I'm keeping track. To date I've not yet spent more time looking for things than I'd have spent keeping a detailed accounting of where things are-so I'm still ahead.

I'd hoped this would be an all-sail passage, but the wind died around midnight last night and never came back to life. I fired up the motor and we continued on, slowly. About 10 hours later, late this morning, I shut the beast off and unfurled and poled-out the code zero to use as a downwind sail. That was good for about 10 minutes, at which point the wind clocked around to the beam and I doused the pole. We've glided along on a beam reach since, under just this light-air sail.

We enjoyed a big salad for dinner. It was supposed to be a pasta salad.

--MR

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Day 3: Quoting the Greats

So we're keepin' on, movin' on. I just said to Windy that when we're all below, eating or whatever, it's easy to forget that we're moving, easy to imagine we're at anchor and to attribute the easy motion to wind and passing pangas.

The wind that keeps us moving has been light and variable the past 24 hours. I rolled up the jib this morning and hauled the code zero back up. We mostly move along between 3 and 4 knots, but we'll get 10 minute periods every once and a while where the wind just ceases and we bang and rattle for that time before it freshens again. The seas are mellow; we just move up and down big ocean swells.

For weeks before we left, the girls hatched a plan to buy a whole mess of jelly beans, to organize them in some fashion, and to then count out the passage days by eating them systematically. Unfortunately for them, they couldn't source the necessary beans anyplace. Of course, this left their need to mark the passage days unfulfilled.

Frances made a calendar and has carefully marked off each day since we left La Paz. Eleanor found famous quotes online, handwrote her favorite 30 onto strips of paper, and stuffed them into a ditty bag. We didn't know about any of this until our first morning after leaving La Paz when she announced her plan. "Every day one of us will reach in and pull out a quote and read it aloud. I'll tape them onto my wall so we have a record of the days." It's been great. Each quote has prompted interesting conversation, either about the author or the content.

Windy tossed a rotting cantaloupe overboard this afternoon. She said she's going to start checking every piece of produce daily. The pears and tomatoes all ripened quickly; they're now at the top of our menu. Even though this is only our third day out of Cabo, we bought all our perishables in La Paz, 6 days ago.

The days out here are wonderfully pleasant. The nights are still cold since Cabo; I'll sit in the cockpit with my foul weather jacket on and a fleece blanket on my lap. I think in the next few days it's going to start getting hot and sticky.

We're all really enjoying this, just hanging out together-cooking, talking, teaching-or each just doing our own thing.

--MR

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Day 2: Heeled over to port

We've sailed on a close reach since leaving the Cabo fuel dock (water dock for us) yesterday morning (Tuesday the 14th). Our heading hasn't varied by more than 20 degrees. The first five hours or so we moved under the code zero in very light airs. Since retiring that sail, we've continued on with a single-reefed main and our jib. Right now the water is a translucent indigo-purple, pierced by rays of sunlight that disappear someplace way down.

All is well aboard. Unencumbered by even the very loose structure of school that normally happens aboard Del Viento, the girls are filling their hours with their own diversions, at times together, at times apart. I've been messing about in the galley keeping the crew fed: snacks like apples and cheese, entrees like a green-sauced enchilada casserole (goodbye fresh cilantro), and treats like banana-walnut bread (goodbye fresh bananas). Windy's been reading and playing with the HF radio and training her critical eye anyplace on the boat where she might find a better way to secure something or eliminate chafe.

We ceremoniously tossed the prop and shaft of our new-to-us water generator off the stern yesterday afternoon. The pulpit-mounted DC motor began spinning and I ran down to confirm that electricity was indeed flowing into our batteries. The contraption is so simple, yet amazing--another piece of this giant, capable, machine that is our floating home. I sat in the cockpit for a while watching it make power. In the pitch dark of my night watch, unable to see any part of the tow line trailing behind us, I'd regularly place my hand on the generator, reassured by the slight vibration and its warm case.

The rest of the boat is working well too, though not perfectly. So far, our casualty list is three-long: a busted hanging fruit basket (since repaired with zip ties), a boom-mounted and riveted-on strap eye to which the aftermost lazy jack lines were secured (can't repair underway, but secured the lines elsewhere), and a loose connection in the starboard bow nav light fixture (impetus to finish wiring the masthead nav lights). Minor things, but at this rate, we'll have 36 problems by the time we drop the hook in the Marquesas.

Something surprising happened last night. Beginning about midnight we passed through a bit of a shipping lane off the Baja tip, maybe 50 miles offshore. We have an AIS receiver so I was aware of the traffic, but instead of just being aware of the dozen or so ships moving along from 10 to 20 knots, just minding our course and keeping tabs, for three separate behemoths I had to take evasive action to avoid collision. From an hour away, I waited and hoped the AIS would change its mind about the closest point of approach it had already dutifully calculated. Instead, in each case, that number only ranged from zero nautical miles to no more than a few hundredths of a mile. And in each case, when we were about 7 miles apart, I'd douse our headsail to slow us and change our course such that we'd come no more than about 1.5 miles from the intersecting path. This may not sound close to you, but it was enough to keep me feeling very awake for about three hours or so.
--MR

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Day X--Start and Stop

Under clear blue skies and in the heat of the tropics, we are sailing blissfully along in the storied tradewinds, on our way to the islands of the South Pacific. Flying fish are soaring over our deck, bananas are hanging in the rigging, and life is good.

I felt like Donald Crowhurst writing that paragraph. The fact is, we've made only 50 miles since leaving La Paz two days ago. Del Viento and her crew are sitting at anchor in a place called Bahia de Los Muertos (the Bay of the Dead). Here's how things have gone.

We motored out of Marina de La Paz at about dusk on Friday evening, waving goodbye to friends. Two hours later, we dropped the hook in a nearby anchorage, ate some soup that we were given, stowed the last of the perishables, and hit the sack. This was a planned stop as Windy still had some computer work to do and we still needed to stop and take on about 150 liters of diesel.

Early afternoon the following day, after a good night's sleep and Windy's work completed, we raised anchor and ducked into the outlying Marina Costa Baja for some fuel. Then we got underway.

For the rest of that day and early into the evening, we motored very slowly on flat seas, whistling for wind. When five knots piped up around 7:00 p.m., we raised the main and glided downwind into the Cerralvo Channel at 2.5 knots. All was well aboard.

Windy and the girls retired and the wind built steadily. When I first saw it peak at 20 knots apparent, I woke Windy to help me reef. She never got back to sleep. We reefed again an hour later, when it was clear the wind would stay pegged in the mid-20s. The seas were building. At 3:00 a.m., neither of us had slept and the apparent wind was now holding steady in the high twenties and gusting to 35 knots. We kept moving along at 7 knots under only our fully-reefed main.

At 5:30 a.m. we heeded the Sirens of Bahia de Los Muertos . We slept like logs until mid-day, today.

The good news is that this un-forecast storm is passed, the girls rolled from cabin side to lee cloth and slept soundly, and the only casualty from all the rolling action was some fruit that escaped its' hanging basket and suffered bruises.

The bad news is that Windy just realized that our water gauges were not accurate and we failed to take on about half the water in a 50-gallon tank. So when we leave here, we're headed straight to San Jose del Cabo at the tip of the Baja peninsula. But only for some water—then we'll be underway for sure, next stop French Polynesia.

--MR



Saturday, April 11, 2015

Radio test

This is a radio test for the blog.

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