April 18, 2011

Sail to the South Pacific-Day 9: The Ocean is So Big

Last night Whatcha Gonna Do didn't check into the net. Kris on S/V Britannia called for them several times. When it came time to end the net and shut off the radio we were reluctant to do so. Not checking in is something like not showing up for a dinner party--there can be endless straightforward reasons for it to happen, but it's still a worry.

So all through the night I worried. As the wind rose and fell and thunder squalls moved toward us--dumping the most rain we've seen since...I'm not sure when we last saw rain--I pondered what might have kept them from checking in. I knew the weather was benign and assumed that like S/V Totem last year they simply had radio problems. I also know they have a SAT phone--so if they did have an emergency I knew they could call for help. So as the squalls moved away--sucking our wind and leaving us bobbing--I convinced myself all was fine and we'd just need to find a way to communicate. When my watches ended I slept--fitfully.

"The ocean is so big, my boat is so small." I've always loved this quote (or approximate quote...)--but as this passage continues the words shift and change meaning. This morning as we waited for the morning net--and tried unsuccessfully to download email (just incase WGD had sent us a message)--I realized that in many ways WGD's connection to the outside world is stronger than their connection to us. If you haven't been reading their blog you'll find it in the links at the side of ours--and if you read it, you'll know more about how their passage is progressing than we do--despite the fact we are in the same neighbourhood, so to speak.

The ocean between our boats is more vast than the hundred or so miles that separates us. And the life aboard each boat is a contained universe. We each have our routines: watches, school work, boat chores, meals... And the moments when we intersect are limited--occurring over scratchy radio nets where we give our positions, our weather and a brief description of how we are, before our voices are swallowed up by background noise.

But knowing that each boat is safe--and relatively near--is oddly reassuring. And when Michael's voice came over the radio this morning and he explained they had changed their clocks aboard and missed the net by an hour while changing headsails the ocean briefly grew smaller.

We are as far from land as we'll ever be right now. And the technology that keeps us connected is fragile. But this morning the sky is blue and the sun has the white tropical brightness to it that you only find as you near the equator. The seas are gentle and rolling, the thunderstorms have receded and all the boats in our little fleet are happy and well. We are turning childhood dreams and school geography lessons into life--an imperfect thing: filled with moments that scare us, ones that tire us and many that leave us in awe.

Yesterday's run was 150 miles and we've come over 1340 miles. We'll hit our halfway mark at some point tonight and turn south to cross the ITCZ and equator in the next few days.
N 8 36 W 124

Hi Folks, Evan the guest blogger here. First off, thanks to all who wrote with birthday greetings, letters, etc. I don't have enough email time to answer individually right away, but I appreciate each and every one. We ended the day with steak, sautéed shrooms (portobello mushrooms keep really well), salad, baked potatoes, red wine and Giardelli brownies. Mmm. My last memorable birthday at sea was my 30th, as we sailed past Acapulco on our last boat`in the moonlight. This one was better!

Here's a recap of the passage so far from my perspective: it's been going great. 1st 2 days were rough enough that I had to take seasickness meds (3rd time in 2 years) but after that the sailing has been easy. Our boat continues to impress me with how easy she is to keep speeding along. Even in the <10 knots wind we have today, we still see 5 or 6 knots downwind. That's good for a loaded cruising boat. I haven't been tempted to use a spinnaker because Ceilydh keeps on moving so well. Frankly I could push the boat faster and harder but why bother - it just gets noisy surfing at 10+ knots all the time when the wind is up. In the next day or 2 we will hit the ITCZ and it looks like`it might be fairly thin to get through. Our last time in the ITCZ was Panama/Costa Rica where it is much wider and parallels the coast more - the lightning went on for days and we even had water spouts.

I could get used to this passage making stuff. I think weather and sea condition wise we hit it good this year (though when boats nearby are complaining about the bumpiness that we don't feel we think some of it is because we're a cat).

Best to you all

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1 comment:

arb said...

What an amazing birthday! What an amazing trip. I look forward to each day's blog - it makes me feel like I'm a tiny part of the adventure. Glad things are going so well.