Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 17 - Almost There but Not Almost Done

It appears that we'll be making landfall sometime on Friday, notwithstanding we are without a mainsail (my sister Deb wins the bet! Assuming we don't lose our wind...). This will be one day short of average crossing times for the Puddle Jump. As I write this, in fact, our navigation instruments tell me that we are exactly 297.5 miles from the anchorage on the island of Hiva Oa. We can now even see the Marquesas Islands on our 100 mile scale e-chart. My friend Michelle suggested that we start sending out the doves to see if they'll return with - hmmm - a palm frond? Either way, this all means that we have under 300 miles to go for a total journey of nearly 3000 miles.

My friend Behan, who did this crossing last year and is currently living aboard s/v Totem with her family in Sydney, Australia, recently wrote a blog about how the crossing is like a pregnancy. In the first trimester you are very uncomfortable getting used to this new life condition. The second trimester has you feeling really really good and excited and fulfilled. By the third trimester you're practically screaming, "LET'S GET ON WITH THIS". We have clearly reached the third trimester.

And yet I am almost sad that this stage of the journey is almost over, given that we expect to make landfall on Friday. I am sad not only for the reason I noted in yesterday's blog, but also somewhat disappointed because there was so much I wanted to do during this crossing. As I had mentioned a few blog posts ago, I had even made a list of all those things - and I promised I'd provide them.

So what were some of the things I planned for my down time? Briefly:

Self Pampering: Okay, I did give myself a mani on the first day but it's long been stale and in need of a lift. I could use a pedi also. In addition, Danielle and I printed out recipes for home-made facials that include oatmeal, honey and lemon juice. We've tried a few before (including using cucumber circles over our eyes) but haven't done one on this voyage yet. I don't think we'll be getting to this category on this leg of our journey.

Reading, reading, reading: This one is an obvious one. While the kids have been reading voraciously, you'd think I'd also have the time to do it. However, when I'm on my midnight to 5 or 6 a.m. watch it will put me to sleep, so I can only read here and there during the day. I'm only about 150 pages into my book Blue Latitudes by Tony Hurwitz about the author's attempt to retrace Captain James Cook's voyages to the South Pacific in the late 1700's. Perhaps more than any other explorer, Captain Cook left his mark by charting the South Pacific waters with amazing accuracy - some of his charts were being used into the 1990's. His and some of his crew's accounts of what he saw are fascinating, enlightening and entertaining. The author then humorously compares his own modern day experiences when he makes landfall in the same locations although in most cases it's not flattering and is to a degree shattering my images of what's to come. I'm hoping my encounters with the natives will be somewhat more positive.

Audio books: We now have several on our hard drives but I'm afraid that just listening without doing anything else puts me to sleep, while doing something else does not allow me to hear what I'm listening to. I'll have to wait until I'm better rested for this category, although the kids have been enjoying listening. My friend Diane on S/v Ceilydh downloaded a bunch of podcasts to listen to, like the TED series or NPR. Now that's something I could get excited about. I'll have to get some when we next have an internet connection.

Movies: I'm not much of a feature film movie watcher as I've always preferred to go to a movie theater than watch at home - other than some documentary types. So far, in my limited down time, I've only gotten through Freakonomics (some of which I've watched with Harrison who, surprisingly, enjoyed it). I've also started watching Great Global Warming Swindle, which Danielle will also watch for her homeschooling project on Global Warming and its Effects on Our Oceans (together with An Inconvenient Truth). Michael's had some luck in getting through some of the hundreds of movies we now have on hard drives while he's on his watches.

Art projects: We have friendship bracelets, beading, and gluing projects that we have not even cracked open. And I was concerned that we wouldn't have enough and had hoped to get painting and felt and embroidery projects as well. I got several more ideas from my talented and creative friend Nancy on s/v Eyoni. These missing art projects have certainly not been missed but I do still dream about creativity.

Games: We have a brand new challenging 1000 piece puzzle, not to mention the other regulars like Rummikub, Monopoly, Mexican Train (dominos), Boggle, Scattergories, Pictionary, Battleship, cards, backgammon, and others I'm sure I've forgotten. We've managed to fit a few of these in along the way. We love playing as a family and tend to get to that giddy uncontrollable laughter at some stage of the play.

Now for more 'project'-type items:

Goal Setting: Every year I've set my goals for the various areas of my life that I want to work on. Given that I've been out of the loop for a while, I have been worried that I'll feel like I'm starting from scratch (or close to it) with no direction when I return. A great anxiety-quelling technique for me is to address the anxiety so I know it's handled and then be able to go on my merry way until I need to bring the issue up again. So I'm wanting to set my goals and then file them away until I return, knowing that I have a plan when I'm back.

Filing: There is no escape from those piles of mail, even at sea. As for mail, we use a Mail Counter type of service which lets us know weekly (or at least that's the premise) what mail has come in so that we can request selected pieces to be scanned and emailed to us. We've had batches brought to us via visitors to Mexico from Canada or the States after the mail service forwards it to them. All our bills and banking are done on-line. For now, the piles are still sitting on our desks waiting to be put away.

Photo Organization: We have hundreds if not thousands of photos from the last year and a half of cruising through Mexico that are in desperate need of organizing, before we add thousands more. We are months behind. This line item may perhaps be the most important on our list.

Clearly we won't be making much progress on this list now that we have only another two days at sea, but there are still another 4000 miles - yes, you read that right - to Australia. Many of the passages between the islands we'll be visiting will be 4-7 days long. In fact, we expect to be at sea for approximately 25% of this eight-month leg of our trip. That's a total of about 2 months - at sea. I'm sure my list will come in handy.


Day 17 Stats:

Distance: 148 miles; Total trip: 2615 miles; Average daily distance traveled: 154 miles
Average Speed: 6.2 knots; Average overall speed: 6.4 knots
Sea Conditions: Seas have calmed a bit but still fairly choppy and confused and still uncomfortable. Clear skies today, with some scattered clouds. Winds today were from the ESE 12-16 knots. It's very humid at 80% humidity with temps reaching to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. It's tough to dry anything out in these conditions.
Incident Report: (1) We changed our clocks back again so that we are UTC -8 hours now. We have another 1.5 hours back to get to Marquesas time. Clearly, though, this extra time has not helped us with our to-do lists. (2) Today while preparing Matzah pizzas for lunch, the full jar of tomato sauce went sliding across the counter and emptied into my clean dish well. Lots of swearing ensued. (3) The bracket holding our BBQ onto the rail snapped. Why we didn't take the BBQ off for this passage, especially given this recent constant pounding, is a mystery to both me and Michael. Thankfully it's an easy fix with a little welding. Do you think there are welders on Hiva Oa? (4) One of our toilet hoses was leaking - easy fix again by tightening the connections. It seems that the pounding loosened more than just the BBQ bracket. (5) When we went to turn on our generator today to bring up our battery power, the generator turned itself off with the warning light indicating that is wasn't getting raw water flow. Again it appears it was an easy fix (thank God on this one as it's our power source...): Michael simply opened the door on the engine to the raw water exchange, took out the filter (which was clean), popped it back in, closed the raw water exchange door, and voila - as good as new. We're thinking that again it was the pounding that simply knocked it out of place.
Fish caught: It's still too choppy to try landing a fish if we caught one so the lines were not put in today. Our total remains One.
Total Kitchen Garbage Bags Generated: Three - we gave out on that third one due to its smell even though it wasn't completely full.
Produce Inventory: We finally gave out on those avos and threw out three today. The real news, however, is how much Matzah we still have, now that Passover is over: about 8 pounds (close to 4 kilos). It seems we ate only about 5-6 pounds (3.5 kilos). This year it's going overboard - we're having a matzah throwing party in the morning.
Meals/Snacks: Breakfast was matzah with cheeses, jams, peanut butter,etc. plus kiwi and oranges. Was supposed to be egg omelettes (spinach and feta, or lox and onions) but Michael was busy with the BBQ (see incident report #3). Lunch was matzah pizzas for the kids (see incident report #2 above) and Michael and I had turkey and sauerkraut on matzah with a tomato and avocado salad for all. Dinner now that Passover is over was PASTA (!!) with bolognese sauce. Passover mandel cuts and macaroons for desert (we need to get rid of them!).



  1. So glad to hear there is an end in sight for this part of your journey. My mom (and all of us, if truth be told) will breath a deep sigh of relief. Let's just hope that your incident report, which has suddenly grown a lot longer, doesnt' take on too many new additions in the next couple of days.

    Guess you can tell which days I'm at the office when I can finally catch up on your blogs and post comments.

    Be thankful you never got those mani/pedis in...a spilled bottle of nailpolish would have been a lot worse than the tomatoe sauce!!


  2. You forgot one main activity you do whether enjoyable or stressful - keep us all posted on your blog. We are so enjoying your journey...