April 26, 2011

Sailing the South Pacific-Day 17: No Permanent Harm

Sunrise on our 17th day at sea sees us moving along at 7.5 knots in about 15 knots of wind. The sea conditions and wind settled overnight and this morning is (dare I say it?) almost comfortable. The honeymoon though is over. My enchantment with the South Seas is now grounded in reality and my misguided assumption that this is a new more benign, peaceful ocean has been shattered. The South Pacific, with it's blue, blue water and a night sky where Orion is tipped over in a comical rather than fierce pose, can leave just as many bruises as those other oceans can.

We are getting close to landfall--and have about 300 miles to go. We've started to plan our time in the South Pacific, a little. But I think we're still too close to the effort to begin to dream yet. Last night when we were chatting about plans over the radio with Barb from WGD and she suggested visiting an UPWIND island. At the thought of another windward bash Evan reacted as though Barb suggested we all get together, shove bamboo splinters under each other's finger nails and sing Kumbaya...

I think that after a combination of a night or two at anchor, a few stiff drinks, and a good long walk on shore (which will follow the requisite kiss of the earth) we'll both be ready for the next part of this adventure. But right now we're still steeped in this one. And even though we only have 300 miles to go and should easily make landfall during daylight on Thursday, there are no guarantees.

Consider the fact that in our little fleet, which is now spread out by a few hundred miles, boats are experiencing everything from doldrums and glassy seas, to 40 knot squalls. Our weather report yesterday indicated we should have easy (light wind) conditions for the next 48-72 hours--but this morning there are lines of squalls all across the horizon, an indication that the restless (and deeply confused) ITCZ is roaming where it shouldn't be, again.

But if the predicted trades stay intact, and the squalls stay away, and nothing breaks, and no magic pixies suddenly speed us on our way we should see signs of land at sunrise on Thursday, and make landfall before dark. But before that can happen we have miles to go, meals to cook, sails to trim and watches to stand.

It's one heck of a ride though.
Yesterday's miles: 172
Average overall trip speed: 6.3 knots
Position: S 06 18 W 134 35
Notable incidents: Ev sighted a fishing boat in the early morning hours and we're seeing the first sea birds showing back up.
* Our sailmail reception is really slow now so we'll be holding off on personal emails for a day or so.

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