Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Shiriri Saga #33The first week. Reaching for the Trades.

Reefed down.

The wind waves hide the string of fishing floats until they slide under our keel and snag amidships. Caught! The mountains of Mexico still loom large and blue on the Eastern horizon and it looks like we will not win free without a struggle. We heave-to and carefully use the boat hook to depress the long line down below the keel and past our stern. We are free again, and by evening we are all alone in our solitary circled horizon and sailing briskly along - too briskly, our cook declares from down in the pitching galley.

Our first task is to sail south-west, far away from the coast of Mexico with it`s alternating calms and variable winds, and find the prevailing north-east trade winds that will provide the magic carpet for the first portion of our journey. These will carry us south-west and then fade away in the area of converging winds called the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone ( ITCZ ) just north of the equator. Once we struggle through these we will pick up the prevailing south-east trade winds that will carry us to the Marquesas Islands and on across the South Pacific to Australia. Apart from the word struggle this all seems straight forward. Seems. We have yet to learn to be cynical about descriptions of average wind patterns however, and settle down to try to average one hundred miles a day and lay down a long, fairly straight line of daily position marks on our chart. This chart will end before it can match up with one we have for Eastern Polynesia, but before we left Mexico we checked on someone else`s chart and when we confirmed there was only empty ocean in the gap, we filled it in with a blank piece of paper with lines of Lat. and Long. ruled on it.

Heather and I have begun to keep a daily journal with all the interesting detail that has no place in a ship`s log and as time goes by I will continue to write and draw our daily struggles and joys. Our families back home want a blow by blow account rather than the vague and edited story of our journey down the coast of North America. So when a book is full, we will mail it home and start another.

The HF radio net we signed up for is the main entertainment of the day. It is lonely out here. We receive reports from boats strung out ahead of us and can talk to individual boats as well. The yacht Victoria is not on this voyage but is following the coast of Central America on the way to the Panama canal. We keep a radio schedule with them and enjoy Eric`s reports. Although sometimes faint, we will chat with them over our whole month`s voyage until they reach the canal. We value the contact with our comrades: Wylie E. Coyote, Grey hawk and Astrolabe are several days ahead and just entering the trade wind belt. The family on Flyer whom we met at Las Hadas before we left will become real personalities as we follow their progress. Jim and Lindy on Moonlighter check in as well as does a boat called Sawlea from Vancouver. It`s just as well we are motoring in the calms because we need to generate plenty of electricity for all this chit chat!

We need electricity as well to make water - in our PUR reverse osmosis watermaker. I spend some time trying to solve it`s vacuum problem, and during that time we are even more careful with our water consumption. Fortunately, we have the melt water from the ice chests, so while we don`t trust it for drinking, we do pour it into the solar shower bag. The watermaker revives and produces it`s usual one and a half gallons an hour when we need it: not much, but neither does it use much electricity to make it and it is excellent quality for drinking. We do a lot of that in the hot sunny days and use the Mexican water in our tanks for cooking and washing.

The solar panels on the top of the hard dodger have plenty of bright sunshine to make us electricity as we sail, so even when we are lucky to have wind wafting us along for long periods, we are still charging up our batteries. Back in Mexico, already back in a previous life, those panels served all our power needs while at anchor.

From the journal: Day 2.

It got pretty windy last night, so we double reefed the main and reefed the foresail. We must have averaged six knots during the night, which helped compensate for more like three and a half knots during the day. In all, we made our hundred miles, but mostly south - getting westing with a west wind is something of a problem. It looks very much like we will be visiting Clipperton Island after all!

Today we were all very tired - too many bumps and thumps and emergencies during the night for much sleep. We`ve all tried to get some today. It`s much calmer and more pleasant, at least now in the late afternoon. It was still bouncy this morning when our coffee bodem leaped off the counter and smashed. It was a sad Bill who cleaned up the glass and realized that, until we think up a substitute, or buy a new bodem in Fr. Polynesia, there won`t be anymore coffee. Sob!!

We continue to make good time all day - an absolutely gorgeous sunset and a growing, almost full moon all night. Our latest joke: What is a waxing gibbous? A fashionable monkey! At our latest fix, Anne told us we had traveled 120 miles ( in 24 hours) which is excellent.

We`ve been enjoying our only wildlife so far - a bunch of boobies. They try to perch on the stay between the masts, but the boat keeps rolling, and they have webbed feet, so they slide downhill. They are always quarreling for the best spot; on top of the foremast light! Just now, a booby was perched near Bill, on the boom, and it slid off and into the ocean. Great comic relief.

No comments: