Day 5 was a doozy. More specifically, night 5 was a doozy. We were swallowed up by a giant inky cloud monster that didn't spit us out again until well after daybreak.
Crazy seas, sideways rain and howling winds would hammer us for chunks of time and then vanish, leaving us stumbling around in the dark, trying to pick up the pieces and get ready for the next round.
It wasn't that the conditions were so strong as to be unmanageable but they were so inconsistent that it didn't allow you to let your guard down. Hitting these little calm pockets in the middle of the night leaves you with no steerage, jerking around in the still angry swell, crashing and banging and beating the shit out of the rig and the crew's nerves. If you roll out the jib again you inevitably get smacked with another squall line, putting you on your side and scrambling to shorten sail.
Needless to say this is not conducive to getting any sleep. The kids stay down below and huddle in a pile of sweaty limbs and underpants on the makeshift sea-berth in the main salon that we have dubbed the "nest". Mommy and I take turns trying to outguess Mother Nature's next move while coaxing Pura Vida in something like the right direction.
This is part of our problem at the moment. In order to have a decent run to Hawaii from the ITCZ just north of the equator we HAVE to make a certain amount of easting. This weather system which appears to want to hang around for a few more days is heading us just perfectly so that we are forced off to the northwest, losing our hard-earned easting faster than we made it. If we switch to port tack, the closest we can hold to the wind, current and swell has us on a heading of 120*... Essentially opposite the direction of Hawaii.
Our friends on Nakia who are about 12 hours behind us at this point and on a boat that won't sail quite as close to the wind have opted to try port tack. We have decided to hold to starboard tack with the hope that as we get farther north the wind angle will become less steep and we will be able to make up the lost easting, or some of it, between the equator and the ITCZ (somewhere around 8* north). So.... there's that.
On a brighter side, let me take this moment to talk about the God's gift to the Galley that we have aboard this vessel. One of the things that always comes up on our evening chat over the SSB with the Nakia folks is what was on the menu for the day. A couple of days of this and we (the kids and I) realize that we have been taking for granted the gourmet wizardry and heroic effort required to keep coming up with amazing meal after amazing meal when you haven't seen a fresh vegetable or a store of any kind in seven weeks. Nakia would be like "We just ate sea-biscuits and a can of Veg-all" and we'd say "Oh?!... Well, we're having black bean and chicken chili (with home-canned chicken) and Tamales (made from scratch) with a salsa and some (again, home-canned) roasted peppers canned in a sherry vinaigrette... Oh yeah and some fresh fish battered and fried on the side. The next day Nakia has re-fried beans and rice on the menu. We have pasta with four of those lobster tails I had grabbed with Gaston during the all-nighter on the reef... in a shallot and white wine sauce AND an ice cold bottle of white wine carefully and lovingly saved for just such an occasion. At this point we decided we were definitely on the right boat.
It's not just that you have to be a great cook to come up with this stuff. You have to be so full of love and determination to even bother TRYING to come up with this stuff on passage. As previously described, this is not an environment that inspires your average chef to want to spend a couple of hours getting flung around a tiny, boiling hot galley, surrounded by things breaking and spilling and trying to dodge boiling oil. Most passage-makers end up losing weight not because they have no food but because after a few days they become so exhausted that they can't be bothered to make food... Not so with our Suki. No sleep, half frozen, par-boiled, half asleep, beat up, sleep deprived, upside-down, did I mention tired... Somehow she manages to do the impossible and keep all of our spirits bolstered with her culinary delights...and she sails the boat...and home-schools the kids... and she writes these blogs (which I find nearly impossible to do)... and she's cute as shit in her foulies (another near-impossibility).
Let's hear it... on three.... three cheers for Suki... Hip Hip Hooray!!!!!!!!!
|Wind chart. Jon and Suki are currently just west of the Marquesas Islands. The lines indicate wind direction, with their tails, behind, indicating speed (more tail; more speed).|
COG:310 TRUE (double yeesh)
WIND: 14 knots
SOG: 3.5 knots (double-reefed, trying not to go too fast in the wrong direction)
24 hour run: 84 miles