Thursday, 25 April 2013

visually speaking...

A glimpse into our 26-day passage from San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
to Hiva Oa, French Polynesia

Celebrating crossing the Equator! Please call us Mr and Mrs Shellback now.

Nature's canvas - never the same twice, always beautiful

A sight for sore eyes, heading into the Atuona Harbour on Hiva Oa

Lushness overdose - loving. it.



Wednesday, 24 April 2013

day 26 - land ho!

At long last, land! We dropped our anchor at 0833 after traveling 2817 nautical miles. What a beautifully lush island after weeks of nothing but the ocean... The small harbour is packed, we are anchored just outside for now. We're tired but good. We will write more once we have checked in and have rested.

We're not in Kansas anymore!
The Nyon crew

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Day 25 - a groovy sort of day

A bit of Gypsy Groove* seems to be the right music for today. The mood aboard has lifted, the clouds are scattered and the sun is shining bright. Can we say, phew!

A 6 to 10 knot breeze is blowing for now. It's been an interesting couple of days filled with intense squalls followed by no wind, followed by more squalls. We're glad that so far, today has been a pleasant sort of day. I've made a lot fewer sail changes, and there have been quite a few more smiles.

All you puddle jumpers out there... Here's a weird question. Did you smell land before seeing it? I thought I did yesterday evening, but today no amount of sniffing brings back the odd spicy scent of last night. Could it have been wishful thinking? We were sailing upwind, so it's not completely unreasonable, is it? Needless to say, we're feeling a certain degree of trepidation today, taking turns to scan the horizon for evidence of land. I wonder who'll get to call "Land ho!".

*Gypsy Groove is an album from the Putumayo World Music collection. We love the energy of this one.

Position: 08* 56.637' S 138* 14.975' W
Distance: 109 nm
Heading: 209* T
Speed: 4.5 knots

Monday, 22 April 2013

day 24 - a case of extremes

The past 24 hours have been trying. We've had nearly back to back squalls, creating lumpy seas, with fickle light air periods sandwiched in between. And then there has been rain, torrential rain, horizontal rain, wet, leaky rain. One thing we've both found strange, is how much beating we have had to do on this journey, we expected to be running with the wind a lot more, not against it. Beating into squalls? Not fun.

I have to admit, we've asked ourselves what happened to the beautiful, wonderful Southerly Trades of our dreams. Neptune is having the last laugh, that's for sure. Aboard Nyon, there's been more grumbling than laughter, but we're working on that.

It's not all bad, just frustrating, and certainly manageable. We're both tired though, and everything is damp. But, and there is always a but, we have less than 200 nautical miles to go. And that, is exciting.

I got pretty keyed up last night when I looked over our port side, and saw a faint greenish light far off in the distance. That had to be another sailboat. There were no other lights, and motor vessels always have extra white lights. We haven't yet been able to locate another vessel in the daylight, visibility has been poor. I'm still scanning the horizon though. Who knows, we might not be as alone as we thought.

Position: 07* 20.700' S 137* 24.924' W
Distance: 91 nm
Heading: 206* T
Speed: 5.4 knots

Sunday, 21 April 2013

day 23 - are we there yet papa smurf?

A squall, a good sized squall after some unexpectedly light overnight winds, made me realize that it's just silly to make pronouncements. I choose generalizations from now on. Sometime this week we'll make landfall. Probably not Tuesday, maybe Wednesday, perhaps Thursday. It doesn't matter. Well, it does, but I can't let it matter. If I let it, I'll just become grumpy.

No one likes a grumpy crew, especially not me. So, here's to stepping back, taking things as they come, and adjusting the sails. We'll get there eventually.

Position: 06* 02.064' S 136* 55.782' W
Distance: 103 nm
Heading: 200* T
Speed: 4.4 knots

Saturday, 20 April 2013

day 22 - getting closer

The countdown has begun. It is likely we'll make landfall by Tuesday. Of course, there are no guarantees, but it's looking pretty good. The Southerly Trades are exactly what we'd hoped: a decent breeze and comfortable seas (nothing like the washing machine waters of the Northerly Trades). We are making good progress.

This is when "being in the moment" becomes a little more challenging. The closer to our goal we get, the harder it is. I would be lying if I said I wasn't ready to set foot on solid ground.

I love sailing, especially in ideal conditions like these. But I have dreamt of these islands for a long time. Originally, Mexico was a stepping stone - somewhere we could learn the art of being a full-time voyagers... We ended up falling in love with the country as well.

But the lure of the South Pacific remained strong, and it pulled us away. We are nearly there. Can you blame me for feeling slightly impatient?

Position: 04* 40.008' S 135* 55.174' W
Distance: 135 nm
Heading: 215* T
Speed: 5.7 knots

Friday, 19 April 2013

day 21 - a welcome change

With only 500 nautical miles to go, we are finally sailing. Sailing, my friends! Are these the Southerly Trades at long last? Well, we've had steady winds for the past 12 hours... It's a pretty safe bet. (I have been wrong before, I know.)

Last night, I was stargazing under an incredibly clear sky. Other than the Southern Cross, I'm still confused by the blanket of stars above me. I can't seem to easily divide the stars into constellations... It's all still so new, a giant celestial puzzle. I find myself almost missing Cassiopeia.

This journey, since we left Canada, is a continuous series of discoveries. We're constantly faced with something new, or seeing things in a different light. The only constant in a voyager's life, is change. Sometimes that throws me off-kilter, I don't always feel comfortable with change. It happens. At times, I crave sameness, predictability.

Then again, had I not put myself in this constantly evolving environment, I wouldn't know that brown boobies fly hundreds of miles from land, or that red cabbage could taste so good when all the fresh produce you have left are a few onions and apples, two avocados and three potatoes. Out here, a shooting star is a wink from the universe. Everything is more immediate, more intense. It's funny, I have come to realize that by welcoming change, I may just find stability.

Position: 02* 47.399' S 134* 45.224' W
Distance: 118 nm
Heading: 207* T
Speed: 5.6 knots

Thursday, 18 April 2013

day 20 - into the southern ocean

Yesterday, we toasted Neptune.

I had crossed the Equator six times before: twice by air, and four times on land. Yet, until yesterday, both Rick and I were mere Pollywogs. Pollywog is the nickname given to sailors who have never sailed across the Equator. Once you have achieved that honour, you become a Shellback. (I won't go into the historical significance, but feel free to look it up.)

That morning was promising, the sun was bright and a steady breeze was blowing. However, the closer we came to the Equator, the more fickle the wind became. It would be more accurate to say that we crawled over the Equator.

It's funny how an invisible line in the middle of the ocean holds so much importance. We showered, prepared goodies, got our drinks and camera ready. In spite of the heat, we put clothes on for the occasion, that's if you count pareos (sarongs) as clothing. I even shaved my legs. (That just comes up way too often on this blog.) Let's just say that the Equator was a big deal.

On a long passage it is necessary to have milestones celebrated, rituals observed, treats parceled out. It breaks up the monotony, and gives you something to look forward to. You have no idea how important that becomes after weeks at sea.

Earlier this morning, the wind was still fickle at best. I'd had enough. I was striking deals left, right and centre with the wind gods. Perhaps they took pity on me, because suddenly dark clouds were upon us, Nyon healed hard over and began flying along. We rushed around making adjustments to the sails in a misty rain. You can always count on a squall to liven things up. The wind has now settled down to 8 knots or so. Only 600 nautical miles to go!

Position: 01* 09.439' S 133* 43.619' W
Distance: 88 nm
Heading: 209* T
Speed: 4.5 knots

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

day 19 - toeing the line

The Southern Hemisphere is so close, I can practically smell it. We are less than 10 nautical miles from the equator. At long last we will cross over to the South Pacific. And what a perfect day for it: the sun is shining over a deep blue sea and a gentle 10 knot breeze is pulling us along.

Dare I say it? I believe we are clear of the doldrums, they hover nearby, but the air feels different here. Let's hope the ITCZ doesn't follow us south!

It appears that Charlie will cross with us. While he leaves us on occasion, (a bird has to eat after all), he unfailingly returns to his perch. We've gotten used to having him around, and he doesn't seem to mind our tunes, a bonus. Not everyone can fully appreciate Jacques Brel's genius. (It seemed an appropriate choice, as our first port of entry in the Marquesas is where he was laid to rest.)

I was going to bake a cake for the occasion, but by 0900, it was already 30 degrees Celsius in the cabin - instead, I salvaged some avocados to make guacamole and dug out some precious salami - believe me when I say this is decadent. We have two special micro-beers* for the crossing ceremony, (thanks John). I think we're more than ready. The next time you hear from us, we'll be in the South Pacific!

*While Nyon is a dry boat when underway, crossing the equator calls for an exception... It's one tradition we will abide by!

Position: 00* 06.993' N 133* 03.147' W
Distance: 88 nm
Heading: 193* T
Speed: 4.5 knots

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

day 18 - in the meantime

We won't reach the Equator today. We got a case of the doldrums. Not the, oh-well-5-8-knot-winds-are-not-so-bad doldrums, more like there-is-no-wind-and-in-20-hours-we've-traveled-28-nautical-miles doldrums. (And not all in the right direction.) We held on for 15 hours, but when I woke up for my watch this morning, I suggested we motor for a while. To my surprise, Rick didn't even hem and haw. We both agreed that a few hours of real progress would do us good. After three hours, I felt a slight shift in the air and happily set the sails. The engine is silent once more. And while the breeze is very light, thankfully, it's still a breeze. I guess we'll see how long it lasts...

In other news, we picked up a hitchhiker around 1900 hours yesterday. We watched a brown booby, whom I've since named Charlie, repeatedly doing fly-bys. He finally negotiated a precarious landing on our solar arch, just before sunset. He is still there! We like his company, even though he is a little on the quiet side.

We also had another visit by a pod of spinner dolphins. They put on quite a show this time. We watched them shoot some 6 feet straight up out of the water, while others leapt high in graceful arcs. You'll have to take my word for it, I didn't take any photos. I was too busy watching.

Other than that, the crew is keeping busy and keeping still. It's a fine balance.

Position: 01* 21.296' N 132* 15 .622' W
Distance: 43 nm
Heading: 217* T
Speed: 3.7 knots

Monday, 15 April 2013

day 17 - music to our ears

You often read about how noisy a passage is - the hull creaks, the rigging shudders, the jars in the locker rattle. And one can't forget the snapping sails, the huff and puff of the wind, and the waves slapping the hull. It's continuous and varies with the sea's moods. We wear ear plugs to sleep, or sit in the cockpit for hours straining to identify that new noise.

And in the middle of all this noise, there is music. No, this isn't a metaphor. This particular crew is mad about music. A passage is the perfect setting to simply sit and listen, or better yet, to belt out your favourite song from your favourite album by your favourite female vocalist. Oh yeah, you have to categorize when there are so many songs to be crazy about. There can't just be one favourite.

This crew's taste in music covers a wide spectrum. Between the two of us, we listen to folk, jazz, bubble gum pop, blues, sea shanties and Celtic songs, rock, and hip hop. Let's not forget old country and Afro-Cuban music. Then there is classical music and some true gems from Louisiana. (Thank you "Treme".) Guess who loves bubblegum pop? I'll give you a hint, it's not me.

When songs have such an important role in your waking moments, they become the soundtrack of your life. Ask me what was the soundtrack to our first offshore passage, and two songs immediately come to mind: "City of New Orleans" by Randy Scruggs and John Prine and "Hey (I Love You)" by Michael Franti. I'm not sure what songs will mark this passage, but we've listened to a lot of John Denver (I kid you not), Mumford and Sons, and the kick-ass mix Rick made me for my 40th birthday.

The conditions have not changed much since yesterday, we are slowly sailing toward our destination and singing our hearts out along the way.

P.S. In case you were wondering, I was inspired to write this piece while listening to "The Wild Hunt" album by The Tallest Man on Earth.

Position: 01* 45.472' N 131* 45.694' W
Distance: 91 nm
Heading: 216* T
Speed: 2.7 knots

Sunday, 14 April 2013

day 16 - when the sea presents you with a gift

The sky looks huge this morning. I woke up for my watch to see it stretched out before us, unencumbered by thick clouds for the first time in what feels like a long time. It's as if the wind gods took a huge breath and blew the grayness away, simultaneously pushing the horizon beyond our reach and leaving us in a blissfully vast playground.

It's not that we needed a bright blue sky to feel good today, if we are to consider the past 24 hours. We've enjoyed the most pleasant sailing by far on this journey. The seas, incredibly, are somewhat flat. The breeze is fairly steady, if not strong, and we're beating into 8-10 knot winds. Perhaps it is not entirely perfect, what it is though, is comfortable. And beautiful.

This feels like a gift, a reprieve. Could we have fully appreciated this day had we not sailed for days on lumpy seas and under grey skies? I do not know for sure, but I don't think so. When the struggling stops, no matter how briefly, there is nothing sweeter than the sea welcoming you into her open arms.

Position: 02* 56.359' N 130* 54.213' W
Distance: 94 nm
Heading: 209* T
Speed: 3.7 knots

Saturday, 13 April 2013

day 15 - slowly but surely

We'd probably get to the equator sooner if we walked there. Seriously. We don't mind though. Luck and some fortunate planning gave us a great run so far. If we end up having a couple slow days - big deal. And anyways, we've sped up since this morning - we cracked 3 knots for at least 15 minutes in the last hour!

There isn't much we can do: when we get closer to 2* N the wind should pick up again, that is if the forecast serves us right and the ITCZ stays put. Yes, there are always a lot of ifs. Until then, we'll sit in front of the fan and jump around naked in the cockpit when a cooling rain comes over us. It is stinking hot now, and humid - we're in the tropics baby!

Rick rigged up a bungee cord from the toe rail to the foresail sheet, that took the jarring out of the snapping sail - a great improvement! I noticed a tear on the genoa's UV strip however, that will be one of the first repairs on my to-do list after our arrival. Oh well, you win some, you lose some as they say.

The morale aboard is good, mellow, but good.

Position: 04* 10.080' N 129* 58.573 ' W
Distance: 85 nm
Heading: 236* T
Speed: 3.9 knots (Woohoo!)

Friday, 12 April 2013

day 14 - on showers, constellations, and strange encounters

You see it coming on the horizon, a deep grey line rapidly advancing toward you. The wind then begins to freshen and you reef the sail. Seeing an opportunity, you run into the cabin and grab your soap and shampoo, and then you wait. You don't have to wait long. As soon as the deluge starts, you begin to scrub. Squalls come and go quickly. They are common in the ITCZ. At least, they're refreshing, and the perfect opportunity for an impromptu shower. And, it's almost as much fun as it was to run through a sprinkler when you were a child.

Before that particular squall, a strange looking ship crossed our path. I don't mean a freighter like the ones we occasionally see on the horizon. This was a worn-out stinkpot that looked cobbled together. We did not see anyone on deck, they simply went by us and continued on. It seemed so odd to come across something like that out in the middle of nowhere. It certainly had us asking ourselves questions.

Last night, Rick identified the Southern Cross for the first time. The clouds had dispersed long enough for us to see a star-filled sky that didn't entirely look familiar anymore. This particular constellation is to the Southern Hemisphere what the North Star is to the northern Hemisphere. Songs have been written about it. For Nyon, it's symbolic of how far she's come.

In case you are wondering, when we refer to "a day", we mean from noon until noon. The distance traveled is within that time. Right now, we are on Pitcairn Island time; the Marquesas are three hours behind Pacific Standard Time. As we get closer we are arbitrarily adjusting the time on our clocks so we can be in sink with local time when we arrive in Hiva Oa. It will be one less thing to adjust to.

Position: 05* 12.214' N 129* 04.687' W
Distance: 112 nm
Heading: 238* T
Speed: 3.8 knots

Thursday, 11 April 2013

day 13 - all about converging

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the ITCZ.

Also known as the doldrums, the Intertropical Convergence Zone, is a "band within 5* to 10* of the equator [that] lies at the convergence of the northern and southern trade wind belts. [...] Boats must cross this area when traveling between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere." I won't go into many details, other than "the typical weather in this region includes light and variable winds, frequent squalls with heavy rain, and heavy thunderstorms." (The Voyager's Handbook, p. 388)

In the past twelve hours we have experienced it all, except for the thunderstorms. It's not boring. According to our grib files, this moving, flexing band has recently shifted north of the equator. While we seem to be in it, we managed to make it to a somewhat thin section. Last night, we were making continual adjustments in shifting winds and both got soaked by torrential rain within 5 minutes. It was refreshing and a bit of a novelty, until the leak count in the cabin. (I love my wooden boat, I love my wooden boat...)

I guess we'll see how long it takes us to get through it. Will we be hard core like some boats we know and sail (even if we end up going backwards for a while), or will we fire up the engine for a few hours to get through the worst of it? We'll come clean and tell you, I promise. Whatever we do, there is no chance of us motoring much, we only carry 35 gallons of fuel. Yes, you read that right.

I might regret writing this, but so far, it's not so bad... Knock on wood.

Position: 07* 54.427' N 128* 31.787' W
Distance: 108 nm
Heading: 197* T
Speed: 4.5 knots

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

day 12 - shades of grey

Some days are just grey. They're neither good nor bad, they just are. The fact that everything is actually grey outside is likely partly responsible for my feeling ho-hum this morning.

Don't get me wrong, last night Rick and I shared a nice meal while watching the sunset and enjoying a lively conversation. There is a string of such lovely moments I can look back on when it comes to these past twelve days.

I asked Rick if he enjoyed passage making in itself. We have friends who live for this. Our friend Allan has waxed poetic about his offshore experiences, and I know he meant every word. If we are to be perfectly honest, we truly enjoy aspects of this experience too, but we both have had a couple moments of, "Can we please just get there already?" It can be taxing, day in, day out on a small continually rocking boat away from everything and everyone.

And then I sit quietly in the cockpit and think: wow, how amazing it is that we are crossing the Pacific Ocean - this enormous body of water, full of surprises and beauty. It really is humbling. I never would have imagined myself doing this 10 years ago. It's actually pretty stinking incredible if you ask me. Even if some days are just a little bit blah.

Position: 08* 25.873' N 128* 0.663' W
Distance: 123 nm
Heading: 209* T
Speed: 5.1 k .nots

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

day 11 - visitors

I was sitting in the cockpit at sunset and nibbling on a bowl of olives, when a tall portside wave caught my attention. Right at that moment, a fin cut through the water: "Dolphins! Dolphins!" When this crew hears the call, we drop whatever it is we're doing and run on deck with goofy grins on our faces. (After clipping ourselves in, of course.)

If you have been reading our blog for some time, you already know we go a little nuts over dolphins. It just can't be helped. They're like endorphins from the sea, we both get the giddy vibe as soon as we see them playing with Nyon.

That was yesterday's high, that and eating fresh mangoes from Mexico. Mexico which seems like a distant memory already. We'll stick to the highlights today, Maintenance and repairs while not being necessarily awful, don't fall into that category, but they do help to bring the day's high to its full and well-deserved glory...

Position: 10* 11.041' N 127* 06.460' W
Distance in 24hrs: 133 nm
Heading: 204* T
Speed: 5 knots

Monday, 8 April 2013

day 10 - tidbits

We had an unwelcome visitor yesterday morning. I was sitting in the salon, and looked up at the companionway when I heard a loud boom, only to see a large wave explode right into the cabin, soaking the starboard quarterbeth and part of the oven. Holy cow. It's a good thing that the sea berth is on the port side, Rick would have had the shock of his life. Cleaning up saltwater is not super effective without loads of fresh water, so now everything will be a little saltier, damper for the duration of this journey. I guess the bottom flap was not enough to keep that wave out...

It has been 40 hours since we gybed*, the motion aboard is a little different: we now bounce off the galley counter instead of flying across the cabin. Oh, who am I kidding, we still occasionally fly too. The night before last we were digging around our bilge clearing a clog so our bilge pump could run effectively once again, not a fun job to do in the semi-darkness, but a necessary one. The pump is happy once again, and the crew is happy too, especially after catching up on its sleep.

These past few mornings, we've been collecting flying fish who have been meeting their demise on Nyon's deck. Remember the scene in Life of Pi? Well, it's not like that. Our record is 9 fishes in one morning. I feel sad for those fishes, after seeing schools of them flying and leaping about, to have the only stupid boat in hundreds of miles get in the way one fateful night.

We are nearing the halfway mark, having traveled 1200 nautical miles so far. We have 1545 miles to go. Right now, it feels like there is no beginning or ending, it is as though we are suspended in time.

*To gybe: when the wind crosses astern as you turn and haul the sail to the other side, (if you're passing the bow through the wind, the same process would be called tacking.)

Position: 11* 57.509' N 125* 56.700' W
Distance: 125 nm
Heading: 212* T
Speed: 5.2 knots

Sunday, 7 April 2013

day 9 - a new direction

Written by Rick

We are in a world where the changes are small. Eight days on one tack. The wind speed and direction varies a little. The boat speed varies a little too. The sky is cloudy but bright. There are no constellations to guide us; no outside indicators to suggest we are actually going anywhere.

We have our two chart plotters and our trusty old GPS to tell us that we are gradually creeping across the Pacific Ocean, but that is all.

Yesterday afternoon, it was time to turn. We had to change course and shift from West Southwest to South Southwest, so we gybed. One third of the way there. This turning point had nothing to distinguish itself from another point on the ocean. We trust it is right, because our instruments tell us it is.

Our place in the world has become abstract. We have no reference for where we are, just an icon on the screen. The strange thing is that we are completely comfortable with that.

Position: 13* 40.820' N - 124* 56.879' W
Distance in 24hrs: 121 nm
Heading: 210 T
Speed: 4.7 knots

Saturday, 6 April 2013

day 8 - frivolities

I didn't bake bread yesterday. I started reading a trashy novel and eating chocolate. Sometimes, that's what this sailor needs. Rick has been watching all the violent movies I won't watch, and eating chocolate too. I'm telling you this, just so you know that we're not always pondering the meaning of life out here on the big blue.

Sometimes it is just about passing the time or needing a necessary distraction from the incredibly dark night that surrounds you at 0400 hours. When the other half of the crew is sleeping and you're craning your neck, looking for anything remotely recognizable out there, and all you see is nothingness, a bit of frivolity might just be what you need . Stars do occasionally peek through the clouds, and the moon itself sometimes shows up, but it has been sulking and shrinking for the most part. So yeah, we have 1800 nautical miles to go and Nyon is a tiny speck on a vast ocean. Uh huh.

What I really would like to know is, would I love "St Elmo's Fire" as much as I did as a teenager, if I watched it now? I guess there is only one way to find out. Forget the stars, it's time for a date with the Brat Pack!

P.S. It turns out, the answer is no. Andrew McCarthy is still my favourite though.

Position: 15* 11.143' N - 123* 48.635' W
Distance in 24hrs: 132 nm
Heading: 243 T
Speed: 6.2 knots

Friday, 5 April 2013

day 7 - it's all about perspective

I'm debating how I should note the passing of a whole week at sea. Clean laundry is exciting (trust me, it is), but it hardly feels like a "Way to go, you've lasted 7 days at sea!" commemoration.

Maybe I'll bake some bread. I mentioned in an e-mail to my mother that it always seems like the waves get a little rowdier whenever I tackle a task at the galley counter, I have a feeling Rick would agree, considering some of the colourful language that's come out of his mouth when it's been his turn to cook dinner. I have juggled, stumbled and dropped in my attempts to produce meals: until today. Today, was a turning point, I showed agility I didn't know I possessed. I wasn't cooking but I was shaving my leg while standing on one leg, a feat of unimaginable proportions a mere two days ago. (Sure, I used the butt strap - and before you let your imagination run wild, it's simply a strap that keeps us from flying across the cabin, and does offer some extra stability.) Still,you have to move "with the boat" to keep steady.

Now you know I shaved my legs and did laundry today, and that I may very well bake some bread too. And you thought this life of adventure was glamorous and exciting. Well, it is. Just not always for the reasons you might think.

Position: 15 49.891' N - 121 40.694' W
Distance in 24hrs: 109 nm
Heading: 245 T
Speed: 5.1 knots

Thursday, 4 April 2013

day 6 - neither here nor there

There is a silver lining - I'm not kidding - on the horizon, the sun has crept past the carpet of grey clouds and a bright dash of silver is cutting the sea and sky in two. It's actually quite striking.

What else can I tell you... We've had lighter winds overnight, the kind that don't always manage to fill the sails with every roll - I have to admit it's just plain irritating. Repeatedly, you hear a ruffle in the sail, the boat continues rolling and the sail slaps loudly in an effort to catch up, causing the boat to vibrate: it's jarring. The whisker pole helps to keep the sail stretched, but until the winds fill in, we continually adjust the sail as we wait to leave this pocket of lighter winds behind.

This morning's watch has been busy, I've been doing the usual watch activities and crossing a few small projects off my list. While I still enjoy gazing out at the sea, I have begun to need feeling productive - in a puttery sort of way. I'm sure puttery is not a word, but I bet you know exactly what I mean. Rick is recovering from a night of slapping sails and is sleeping soundly, I think. I've been trying, only semi-successfully, to keep loud bangs and crashes to a minimum.

Last night, I made quesadillas, mainland-style with guacamole. It was pretty awesome. I know I will miss Mexican food as our stores become depleted, but, we'll apply the same approach on the islands as we did in Mexico... "When in Rome..."

For now, we're in the middle of nowhere, neither Rome nor Mexico... Between two worlds.

Position: 16 24.357' N - 119 54.297' W
Distance in 24hrs: 119 nm
Heading: 245 T
Speed: 4.7 knots

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

day 5 - what is and what will be

This is that time in the journey when the days begin to blend together. As I've said before, the differences in our days are subtle, more wind, less wind, pasta or rice, that kind of thing. I keep asking myself, am I bored yet? Maybe restless, but not bored. I imagine what's coming. I've begun having all kinds of dreams in French, with weird Mexican elements and fanciful tropical islands. I keep wondering what it will be like "over there." I have to remind myself to be here, to live this moment. Crossing the Pacific in itself is a unique kind of experience, one to be relished. I think it's pretty wild that we're over 600 nautical miles from Mexico, the nearest mass of land.

Rick on the other hand, does what Ricks do: he goes with the flow. He spends his time negotiating comfort and productivity with the constant motion of the boat. He has yet to find the energy to fish or have weird dreams. He's okay with that, the enforced structure of passagemaking is still a novelty.

P.S. Happy birthday to our nephew Kyle! And happy birthday to our friend Trisha too!

Position: 17 11.977' N - 118 03.826' W
Distance in 24hrs: 127 nm
Heading:232 T
Speed: 6.1 knots

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

day 4 - i got this feeling

"Wind's picking up." I can't count how often I've been teased for saying that but... I can't help noticing slight shifts and noting them out loud, even if the wind is just going from 5 knots to 8 knots.

This morning, the air felt different and the waves were bigger, yet the barometer wasn't saying much. When the wind hit the 20 knot mark, we reefed the foresail some more at my request. Soon enough, the wind climbed to 26.5 knots. But we were ready.

I'm all about preventative action. Sometimes I'm overly cautious one might say, but I've helped us avoid mishaps too. I'm okay with being the more conservative sailor of the two. Rick has learned to value that in me too. We balance each other out, and that's good.

The skies are clearing some, we'll be making water today. Other than that, it's all routine: including dodging white water that splashes into the cockpit when waves hit the side of the boat just so. Not to brag, but I think I'm winning. I have photos of Rick drenched from head to toe to prove it.

Position: 18 27.150' N - 116 20.137' W
Distance in 24hrs: 144 nm
Heading: 238 T
Speed: 4.8

Monday, 1 April 2013

day 3 - think small

I have set a goal for myself: mastering drinking out of my wide-mouth water bottle without wearing half its contents. That, or finding my spill-proof one. The ocean around us is vast, but aboard Nyon, it's all about the small stuff.

We both have developed our little routines. Wake up, wash up, get dressed, PFD goes on, and then sit in the cockpit. Under the dodger, that's key. If we don't, we risk getting hit by a rambunctious wave that makes it over the side, right Rick?

I scan the horizon, I check the numbers: position, speed over water, wind speed, distance traveled, etc. Following that, I have a tough decision to make: podcast or book? Eventually, a snack is in order, I check the horizon again, make a slight adjustment to the foresail or to our heading. Once again, I read, listen, or just stare at the blue seascape, and so it goes. Every 4 hours, we switch - there is always one person on watch. On my 0800-1200 watch, I write a blog update. We eat our main meal together early evening, taking turns to prepare a hot dish, otherwise we grab snatches of sleep and food throughout the day and night. It's not glamorous, but we feel a sense of contentment with every little thing we accomplish.

The wind has been hovering just above or below 15 knots in the past 24 hours, we're enjoying the fact that it's now aft of the beam, and the sun mostly shines through scattered clouds. We wear our foulies (jackets only) at night, to take the edge off the damp wind. Otherwise we wear shorts, t-shirts and hoodies.

Sightings so far on this crossing: 4 freighters, 3 birds, and a pod of spinner dolphins while we were still hovering near the Mexican coast.

P.S. Joyeux Anniversaire Armelle!

Position: 19 47.689' N - 114 16.810' W
Distance in 24hrs: 142 nm
Heading: 236 T
Speed: 6.4 kts

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