04-27-2018 – Crossing the Pacific

We’ve been underway for about two weeks now, and have begun settling into a new rhythm of life. We’ve set a watch cycle, where each of us does a 3-hour watch during the day and another at night. The schedule is the same from one day to the next, but we’re changing it around every 10 days to give us each the opportunity to experience all of the time periods, from sunset to midnight to sunrise. They each have a different character, and it’s fun to have a little variety. We did our first “shift shift” almost a week ago. It took a couple of days to settle in to the new pattern, but now it’s familiar. We all have our own personal rhythms, so when one person is waking up in the morning, another is going to sleep, and someone else is ready for a bite to eat. Sometimes that makes it difficult to do things together, like the family style meals we like to share. But we’ve managed to find a nice balance between doing things all together and doing things alone or in pairs.
We’ve been sailing almost continuously, but generally not very fast and often not in the exact direction that we want. 🙂 Most boats going from Panama City to the Marquesas first go to the Galapagos, pass to the south of them and then jump on the tradewinds all the way across. But we were having trouble getting south, and there was disagreement about whether the “usual” route was the best one for us. Eventually we decided to pass the Galapagos to the north, and try to turn south at some later point. At that point we began moving again, primarily west, which was encouraging. We’re still trying to get south and still moving mostly west. Stay tuned…
We’ve had two fishing lines in the water most of the time (during the day), but have very little to show for it. Yesterday we finally got a hit. The first strike jumped off the line almost immediately, but then a second strike happened on the other line. Baban reeled it in and dropped it in the net that Dan was holding. It was a beautiful 2′ dorado, a little on the small side but enough to feed the four of us that night. What a delicious meal! As we hear from other boats, it’s sounding like the fishing is more successful as people get close to the islands. One person described getting 5 fish in one day!
One of the commonly reported problems on blue-water passages like this one is wear and tear from all the constant movement. Soft surfaces like sails and ropes are particularly at risk of chafing through. Overall we’re doing pretty well, but we did have one line break a few days ago. Murphy’s Law would have predicted this to happen in the wee hours on a choppy, moonless night. Oddly, for us it occurred mid-morning on a fairly calm day. The line was a halyard, which holds our jib sail up tight. This sail is a roller-furled sail, though, and is mostly supported along its forward edge by an aluminum channel. This meant that although the sail was not useful it didn’t fall into the water or on deck, potentially sustaining further damage. We were lucky! Later that same day we found a really calm moment when we were able to raise Kathy up the mast with the other end of the rope, so she could reconnect it to the sail. Even a calm moment out here is far rollier than she’s used to in an anchorage. She used an additional strap to keep her from swinging away from the mast as she went up. It was a good learning process and a confidence booster, in case there’s a “next time”. We’ve been steadily sailing ever since.
Over the two weeks we’ve been underway, we’ve spotted lots of different animals. They’re not happening all at once, so it doesn’t feel like all that much, but most days there’s an interesting sighting or two. Close to Panama we had several whale sightings; we’re not sure which species, but “fin whale” comes to mind. We’ve seen a couple of turtles and quite a few dolphins. There was one day when we watched a large pod of spinner dolphins move on by. These guys are smaller than the more common bottlenose dolphins and less interested in interacting with boats. But their claim to fame is that they jump, frequently and apparently joyfully. Imagine a whole school of dolphins happily leaping along the way wherever their pod is taking them. They don’t synchronize their moves, and they don’t always land gracefully. But they do it a lot! It’s quite a sight. 🙂 A few times we’ve sighted a group of “jumping somethings”. They seem to come in a few different varieties, some darker than ot hers, some bigger than others. All of them are somewhat reclusive, avoiding close encounters with sailboats. We mostly see them in the distance, but we’re hoping to study them more carefully in the coming weeks.
Baban has a mind thirsty for knowledge. He has been learning a lot on this journey, and one area that has absorbed a lot of his time and energy is maritime ropework, known as marlinspike seamanship. Every day he asks Dave for a “knot of the day”, and every day the two of them spend a couple of hours working with rope, sometimes tying beautiful decorative knots, sometimes splicing eyes into the ends of old lines, sometimes finishing a raw securely with whipping twine. Dave is always enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge, and this is one area that he has a deep trove. Another topic that makes him shine is the night sky. He loves to talk about his “celestial friends”, which range from the moon (the full moon is especially meaningful to Dave) to individual stars to the wandering planets. One cloudy night he spotted a star through a break in the clouds and confidently identified it as Castor, in the constellation of Gemini. He used the direction from the boat, the height of the moon, the brightness of the star, and his knowledge of what other stars were nearby to draw his conclusion. Although no one else onboard had remotely enough knowledge to support or refute his observation, his confidence felt almost like magic!
A friend on another sailboat shared with us an email he was receiving daily where another boater was collecting location information from all the boats currently crossing from the Galapagos to the Marquesas. He used an Excel spreadsheet to create a beautiful chart that graphically showed everyone’s progress, and distributed it daily. We joined the list of boats that he was tracking – but he was only displaying boats that had passed the Galapagos, and we hadn’t yet gotten that far. Shortly after we joined up, he announced that he was arriving in the Marquesas and would be discontinuing the regular distribution. He was looking for a replacement, and Kathy ended up volunteering (it might have been one of those situations where everyone else steps back from the line). She has spent the past three days getting set up. It turned out to be a more complicated technical situation than expected, because of the limitations of our email app. (It’s trying to compress the image for distrib ution, but it’s being too aggressive and the result is an unreadable fuzzy mess.) In the meantime, she has been sending the information out in a simple text email, while she tries to figure out a prettier solution. She’s spending much of the time she’s on watch collecting the data from emails and creating the distribution email, but also sending personal email communications to many of the boats, trying to get to know the people in our new “community”. It’s fun, but time-consuming!
So there are a few things happening on board Lungta as we sail across the Pacific. We’ll send another update in a week or two. In the meantime, stay safe and happy – and we’ll do the same!
Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.