November 3, 2011

Slow Boat to Oz--Day 5

"What day is it? Wednesday? Saturday?" Maia asked.
I had to think about it, "We left Monday afternoon so it's Thursday. No, Friday."
This is one of our slowest passages to date. We've been averaging 4.6 knots. Almost 2 knots an hour lower than our typical passage speed. We're not even at the half-way mark yet--and we were worried about getting to Australia on the weekend and having to pay overtime fees...
Right now we're hoping to maintain 5.1 knots so we can get to Chesterfield reef before dusk tomorrow night. We're making 4.3 under spinnaker (6 in the gusts). Despite the slow passage it's wonderful out here. We're really in no hurry to see it end (other than the fact that at some point something nasty is going to blow up in the Coral Sea and we really want to be in Australia before that happens.)
I've commented before about how much I enjoy (some) passages. There is the sailing--which I love until the point that the seas grow monstrous and the wind howls in pain (which tends to leave me shaky and nauseated). There is the endless view of the ocean and sky--which never becomes monotonous or dull. I never knew a sunset could come in so many variations or that the sea could be so many shades of blue. Then there is the best part--our time together.
There is something wonderful (and occasionally awful) about being in a small boat with nowhere else to go. We spend hours curled up together reading, chatting or watching movies together. It's like day after day of Sunday afternoon. Maia does do school (Ev and I divide up the topics we work on her with--he's currently covering Algebra and Science (weather, marine biology), while I'm tackling writing, geography and music. She's also learning to sail right now. This may seem like something she should know (she has taken basic dingy sailing classes) but for the most part the gear on our boat is a bit big for her and we've really not asked her to help with much. Recently she started to ask what she could do and today she learned about how to fly the spinnaker--learning to sail in eight knots of wind is really ideal.
Despite all the hours we are out here there never seems to be enough time--Maia and I have been planning to bake bread and cinnamon buns for days (and hopefully will get to it today) and our ukuleles are terribly neglected. I have stories to finish and emails waiting for answers. Evan has projects to complete.
But somehow despite our good intentions Sunday afternoon laziness takes hold and instead of projects getting finished books get read, and the night time stars are pondered.
The only true constant to our day come with gathering the weather reports and checking in with the nets (and our friends who are also enjoying this slow, slow passage).
Perhaps it's easy to savour this time because it's the last passage for a while. Soon enough we'll be back in real life. But for now the long gentle swell rolls under us like a country road. The wind is soft, and warm, and musical. The sky is light blue with cotton-candy clouds. Our sails are full and are slowly pulling us toward the next part of this adventure.

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