Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 7 - One Week Down

We're past the one week at sea mark, and the one-third distance mark with having traveled over 1145 miles. At times when the wind is blowing in the right direction and we're 'sailing along', so to speak, a sense of elation sweeps the boat and we feel like we could keep going forever. Then at times like this moment, when the wind is light and directly behind us and we are bobbing along at 3 knots, I wonder how long this journey is going to take. The weather reports this morning advised of light winds over the next 2 days, so we may be bobbing for a while yet. And as was to be expected, we had our first 'weather to be watched' warning with some potential cyclonic activity (far) to the southeast. We watched the southeast horizon for several hours today until we knew we were out of recommended range and could breathe a bit easier. In the meantime, we keep re-evaluating our course (SW) to make sure we cross the equator at the most favorable spot where there is little unfavorable weather for the shortest distance. I've alluded before to this strategy. The ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone) is the band of opposing currents and winds on either side of the equator with either thunderstorms or no wind whatsoever (also called the doldrums) - and it changes daily. So for now we're heading more west again and hope to turn south at around 7 degrees north by about 127 degrees west or more to cross the ITCZ and the equator - but we'll keep our eye on the weather and the changing ITCZ as we go. The crossing is likely another 5 days away or more. And in the meantime I've been enjoying the navigation part.

While enjoying the charting and navigation, I do sometimes wonder when and if this sailing thing will ever become second nature to me. There are times when I'm at the helm and Michael tells me to turn upwind and I go the wrong direction, or I'm trying to figure out which way to point to get us heading on a certain course, or I need to figure out what line to loosen or tighten or leave alone. There's so much to think about at one time and I can't even follow a recipe and carry on a conversation at the same time. I try to ask questions as we go, and Michael is very good at explaining why he's doing something, but there's only so much he can do to have it make sense to me. This only gets magnified when, like this evening, we wage war on a sail. Michael was trying to raise the screecher, an asymmetrical sail which is good for downwind sailing, and it got so tangled to the point that we couldn't pull it out. After two hours of tense attempts in the pitch black of night, completely disoriented as to where the boat was pointing, literally spinning in circles to try to use the wind to unwind it, we finally gave up and are flying the jib instead. In any case, it has me wondering whether one is born a sailor. Can one learn to love it to the point that you live to breathe it? That's not to say I don't enjoy it. I do love all the things that go with it (the travel, the compactness of towing your life with you as you go, the precious togetherness of your family, to name a few), but I can't say that I'm a proficient and passionate sailor. For now I'm content to go along for the ride. And I'll keep trying to learn.

Speaking of learning, I've learned a few other things over the last day:
1. You can get blisters from doing laundry. True. I rung out 52 rags today - twice. Once washing and once rinsing. My blisters had popped by the end of it. Here's a tip: one can never have enough rags living on a boat. Why so many rags? Our one week delayed departure meant that we left with one week's worth of laundry. With several spills along the way due to the motion of the ocean, we ran out of rags. And on a catamaran we don't even heel over like on a monohull where there would likely be many more spills. In the meantime, my kids are complaining that they are running out of clothes. I'll have to wait until my hands heal before the next round.

2. Don't wrap your citrus in tin foil. Contrary to what I said before, don't do it. Yesterday, while choosing oranges for fresh squeezing, I had to toss out about 4 or 5 due to major mold. I then went through all of the oranges and realized several were on the cusp. The problem is that the tinfoil traps the moisture leading to mold. The temperature changes several times during the day so that the fruit sweats but needs to be able to breathe. I have never wrapped them in tinfoil before and they've lasted a long time, especially the thicker skinned ones. And here I was hoping that the oranges would be our saviors when we ran out of everything else. Now I'm hoping they'll last for the next few days while I squeeze orange juice that doesn't taste rancid.

3. The single sideband radio takes up a lot of battery power when you are actually using it. Michael's been running the adjunct morning Puddle Jump net (for the boats that left approximately one week ago - we cannot hear the official net so we created our own to keep in touch and share weather information). We've found that because of this, with everything else including our navigation instruments, we use up about 25% of our battery power in a 24 hour period. With a lot of cloud cover, we haven't been making much solar power so we've been running our generator at least 2 hours every morning to bring the batteries back up to 100%. This is the time of day when we all scramble to plug in computers and ipods to charge, we make toast in the toaster and I use the food processor if I am planning to make anything that day that requires it (today: Passover potato kugel!). Maybe I'll use the time to run the washer next time?

Day 7 Stats:
Distance: 154 miles; Total trip: 1124 miles; Average daily: 160 miles
Average Speed: 6.4 knots; Average overall speed: 6.7 knots
Sea Conditions: Pleasant; 4-6 foot long period swells coming from behind which means we are riding them nicely; some sun, some overcast; NNE winds about 10-14 knots
Incident Report: Waged war on the asymmetrical sail and lost. Will need to untangle sail by hand in the a.m. Chafing on the jib; attended to by sewing patch where it hits the seagull striker. Screecher/spinnaker halyard chafing right near top; Michael cut it away and will have to keep an eye on halyard going forward to see if this is a new issue or an old one that we think we've addressed.
Fish caught: zero (why are we bothering?)
Produce Inventory: Still way too many avocados. We're so sick of them that we didn't even eat one today. We lost close to a dozen oranges and 2 grapefruits to mold (see my comment re wrapping in tin foil). About another dozen are smelling awfully ripe.
Meals/Snacks: Breakfast was Challah French toast with maple syrup and cut up kiwi, mango and apples with fresh squeezed OJ; Lunch was leftover Vietnamese salad rolls without the rolls (i.e. bean threads with lettuce, carrots, peppers, spinach, zucchini and chicken in peanut sauce). Afternoon snack was tomato and artichoke bruschetta on crackers (way to use those tomatoes!). Dinner was curry chicken and vegetables over brown rice. We celebrated our one week at sea with some licorice!!

We cannot thank you enough for your encouraging comments - they help us feel supported and connected.

11 degrees 36.238 minutes North
121 degrees 31.589 minutes West
At 4/17/2011 09:06 (utc) our position was 11°35.58'N 121°32.50'W


  1. Just sending some love so you know I'm still here hanging on every word. Please don't tell me you're making Chicken Soup in the middle of the ocean too!?! Chag Sameach to you all.


  2. Barb, don't throw out the oranges, be like the Limeys of old and mix the juice with rum. It may not make the juice last any longer, but you'll worry about it less.

    The widget on the page shows you guys as a tiny little arrow moving into a blue vastness. I wonder if it feels that way on the boat.

    Keep the status reports coming.

    We're getting ready for Passover. We'll be with the Moskowitz's and Arfins on night one and at my house with the Arfins and Melinda/Becca
    on night two.


  3. It all sounds very exciting! We are anxiously awaiting a comical Pesach-prep blog from you! Our table is set, most stuff is made and Jeff and the kids are at Ginsbergs for dinner while I clean up a little (the kids think I stayed home to hide chametz! long will that last??).

    We are adapting our seder a bit this year because the kids learned the whole story in the context of "hidden and revealed" which we will carry through to our seder. They are so excited. We're going to the Weissbergers (Laya Rusonik's) for the second seder. She had Hannah and Sammy over yesterday for a dress rehearsal for the play the kids are going to present. They are so into it, and taking it so seriously...practicing their lines regularly. It should be good for some deep gutteral laughs!

    Keep the blogs coming.
    Chag Sameach...xoxo

  4. So I see the boat took a sharp turn south a few miles back, I assume that was Barb driving?

    Our pesach prep is going really well, such an easy house to work in, big difference this year, doesn't hurt that we are going out for both seders this year too!

    Thinking of you guys all the time, what a wild Pesach story you will have to tell, Passover over the equator. This life sure beats art!



  5. BTW, Yoav wants to know if you have to do 3 seders because you are crossing the international date line? LOL