Third week

Things are well here, as I write this we have a little over 500 miles to go to the Marquesas. It’s the beginning of our 21st day and we have seen nothing but water the whole three weeks. We did have the ‘Hansa Stockholm’, a container ship bound for Tahiti, pass us at eighteen knots twelve miles off our port side the other night. Too far to see even lights but it did show up on both radar and AIS, obvious since I know her name and destination. Always nice to know the AIS and radar are both working, not just consuming electricity.

The boat continues to do well. As Teresa mentioned, our Monitor wind vane steering failed the other night. Nothing will wake you up like an unexpected jibe and suddenly being 120 degrees off course. Good thing we have the pole and boom locked down in all directions, it really was a non-event.

—Begin boring details:

So the Monitor steers our boat to the wind. A wind vane is feathered into the wind and falls to one side or the other if we get off course. When the wind vane falls over it rotates a shaft that’s connected to a paddle in the water. When the paddle rotates the force of the water pushes it to one side. Lines tied to the paddle are wrapped around the ships wheel and cleverly pull it in the correct direction to once again feather the wind vane. It sounds complicated but is a wonder to watch.

Because metal doesn’t like to live in salt water the water paddle is hinged to be retracted when not in use. We broke the latch, the part that keeps it in the water. I’ve discussed it with the manufacturer via email and we both agree there is no easy jury rig – it’s difficult because the top piece consists of a stationary metal tube with a rotating inner-tube that attaches to the water paddle and any jury rig cannot attach to the upper, outer tube. I do have lots of odd parts on board including hose clamps, a banding tool, and lots of hardware. If we were forced to hand steer it would be worth it to go dead in the water for a few hours while I worked out some way of keeping the paddle in the water. With a working electric autopilot we’ll keep going and just deal with keeping the batteries charged. Makes me wonder how all the boats out here without wind vanes keep up with the electrical consumption.

—End boring details

Interesting that both our major breakdowns so far are with our automated steering systems. It’s also nice to know we’ve already ordered replacement parts that should get to Nuka Hiva before us.

I’m also not sure why there are so many cruising boats out here without spinnakers. We just finished our fourth day under spinnaker and it looks like we might use it the majority of time the rest of the way to the Marquesas. We just wouldn’t have kept the boat moving last night in 6 knots of wind without it and certainly wouldn’t be making 6.5 knots now. For us, it’s irreplaceable.

Fishing has slowed down a bit. Sunday night Teresa was on the radio with Carina, another Seattle boat that is the closest to us right now, 140 miles east of us. We had a fish hit one of the lures and I called her away from the radio to handle the net. Unfortunately this beautiful bright yellow mahi-mahi jumped in the air twice and after the second jump was off the hook. Literally. We are currently experiencing a fishing slump of three days. Can’t really complain too much, since we’ve had fresh fish about three quarters of the time over the last two weeks. Never expected to catch this much of our food and even if we stopped now we’d still be way ahead of expectations. It is nice to know we’ve figured out how to fish, and nice to know we’re out-fishing our friends who are using fishing poles, a method that should result in more hookups. If you’re going cruising, take hand lines. Email me for some recommendations, especially for books on fishing.

Twenty one days. Seems like a long time but I’ve decided the only difference between our shorter ‘long passages’ and this one is this one is just longer. Seriously, it takes two or three days to get into the swing of a watch schedule and you spend the last couple of days wishing you were there. In between, we have our routines that very little from day to day. In the case of this long passage the middle part is lasting long enough to totally lose track of days. Truthfully it doesn’t feel like we’ve been out this long. We are starting to get anxious to be there and at 500 miles to go the miles seem to be flying by.

That’s it for now. Everything is going well, we expect to arrive in the Marquesas this coming weekend.