Fwd: 05-08-2018 Crossing the Pacific

——– Original Message ——– From: Dan Finkelstein <lungta@myiridium.net> Sent: May 8, 2018 2:34:54 PM PDT To: 1126blog.com Subject: 05-08-2018 Crossing the Pacific
Life on Lungta continues on, much as it always has – but different too, while underway. Our days are colored by the watch schedule, especially at night. During the days we’re more casual, but someone is almost always in the captain’s seat. Part of the reason for that is that the navigation PC is also our primary connection with email.
Kathy, in particular, has been making a lot of use of the email recently. She volunteered to be the new manager of an email system to track the locations of a group of sailboats traveling from Panama to the Marquesas, called M-Fleet by its founder. When the original list manager arrived in the Marquesas, he was tired of the project and asked for a replacement. Did Kathy step forward or did everyone else step back? The original owner had designed a nice Excel chart that graphically showed the relative locations of all the boats on the list. He embedded it in his email for everyone to view easily. But after a few hours of banging her head against the project, Kathy determined that she would not be able to provide the same image; our mail app compresses attachments, and this one ended up with unreadable text when it was received. Since the boat names are an important part of the image, this was unacceptable. She sent the data out in a text list in her nightly email, but was disappointed with the results and kept working on trying to find something better. After a couple of days, one of the boaters suggested a different type of file format that used text to denote waypoints on a chart to things like our navigation software and GPS devices. He helped her organize the data so that when people download this file to their device they will see a star marking each boat in their location on the chart. It’s fun to see who’s closest or how far someone else has come in the last day or two! This week some of the boats are arriving in the Marquesas and a similar number are beginning their trip across the ocean. There seems to be a larger number of boats moving this way than we had even imagined.
We often feel like we’re out in the middle of the vast ocean, with no one and nothing as far as the eye can see. Last Thursday, though, we were reminded that there is more going on just out of sight than anyone knows. On one morning, we sighted not just one, but two other boats. Baban actually sighted the navigation lights of the first one in the wee hours of the morning, and it approached over several hours. Eventually it got within radio distance and the AIS system provided us with lots of information, including that it was a 333 meter Greek tanker, bound for Brazil on the other side of Cape Horn. It got 1.25 miles from us before crossing our track as the sun rose, and then receded over the next several hours. The second boat was the opposite: a small sailboat that was heading in essentially the same direction as we were. We first saw a sail on the horizon. As it got closer, Dan established radio contact and had a pleasant conversation with the Norwegian woman who replied. We learned that this boat was named Isis II – and felt a surge of recognition as we realized that this was the boat that had recruited Laura away from us almost exactly a month ago! They had been to the Galapagos and were now bound for the Marquesas, but *much* faster than us. What a small world!
On April 28th at 10:04pm, we finally achieved an exciting milestone: crossing the Equator! We captured a screen shot of our navigation PC to commemmorate the event when we were at 00 00.0001S 94 48.3216W There are many traditions of how sailors have greeted this occurrence, and mostly they are silly or treated as a rite of passage. More elaborate ceremonies typically invoke King Nepture, and sometimes bring newbies (referred to as pollywogs) up on various charges for King Neptune to rule on, sometimes administer punishment (Kathy knew of a boat that made everyone eat some vegemite for their transgressions), and frequently involve a sacrifice (the child of one of our friends offered up a pancake from his breakfast). We’ve heard stories of people shaving their head, dressing in silly costumes (often including a crown and staff like Neptune), and historically walking the plank. We settled for opening a bottle of champagne for toasts reminiscent of New Year’s Eve, along with a sa crifice of rum for Neptune to join us in the celebration. Our crossing occurred during a Full Moon, which felt even more auspicious! After crossing the Equator by boat, pollywogs are promoted to shellbacks, and traditional maritime practice allows them to sport a particular tattoo motif to commemmorate that event.
On a long passage like this one, people seem to crave some milestones or other events to break up the monotony. Many of the boats in our “fleet” are counting down the miles. We are changing our shift schedule around every 10 days, for variety, moving back one segment to the previous 3-hour shift. As it works out, the person who had been doing the most challenging shift schedule “gets a night off”, when moving from the 12-3 shift to the 9-12. We’re about to move into our 4th shift schedule, which means that we will have each done all four watch times. It’s looking like we might have another 1 or 2 after that. In addition to “shifting shifts”, we are distributing the time zone changes geographically. Panama and the Marquesas are 4.5 hours apart. We’re turning our clocks back an hour each time we pass a latitude line that’s a multiple of 10. We passed 100 degrees South three days ago, so we turned our clocks from Central time zone to Mountain time zone. We’ve turned the clocks b ack twice so far and have three more to go, the third time we’ll only do half an hour because the Marquesas uses a time zone that is off by half an hour from their neighbors. That seems odd to me, but I have heard that India also uses a half-hour offset to find a time that works for the most people possible in its region.
We’ve been fishing a lot, by which I mean dragging a lure through the water as we travel. Most of the daylight hours we have two lines trolling out back. The first two weeks we were underway, we only caught one fish. All of a sudden we are catching fish, almost exclusively dorado, a.k.a. mahi-mahi. We have caught 14 dorados in the last 9 days, and a few near-misses! We’ve seen schools of them near the boat, and we believe that they are following Lungta. Dorado are known for hanging out underneath floating objects. But they are most likely to bite when the lure is moving through the water fairly quickly, at least 5knots. Many of the fish we’ve caught have been when we’ve been taking in a line, for example at the end of the day. We prefer not to have the fishing lines out at night, because it means a bit of work, not just landing it, but also killing it and processing it for storage. We have put a good bit of these fish into our freezer, but we’ve also been enjoying fish for di nner most evenings. We’ve come up with a variety of ways to cook them, but still have a few tricks up our sleeves! Dorado makes for good eating!
There was a day last week when we weren’t moving very quickly, so Kathy started a load of laundry. (We’re concerned that when we’re heeled over or bouncing around, it might not be good for the bearings in the washer. Can you believe that the designers wouldn’t have tested it under similar conditions?!) By the time the wash was done and it was time to hang the laundry to dry, the wind had picked up a good bit. Perhaps 15 minutes later, Dan checked the fishing lines and found that there was a fish on one of them. He called out to the crew and we all came running. When Kathy got on deck, the first thing she noticed was that one of the sheets was missing. As she looked around deck to see if perhaps it had landed somewhere, Dan reeled in the fish and the others prepared to bring it on board. Then they noticed that the fish was actually a big, blue bedsheet! What a silly surprising coincidence! The hook had poked a few holes in the sheet, but at least we still have a complete set. 🙂
So, there are a few things happening on Lungta while we’re on our way to the islands of the South Pacific. We’ll send more in a bit. We’re happy and healthy, and hope that each of you is also!
Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

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