A day in the passage life: Part 3 – The Hole
That ideal trade wind sailing didn’t last like we wanted it to. As we tracked further south, we sailed right into a hole with no wind at all, and now that hole has expanded out in front of us all the way to the Gambiers. We only have about 20 gallons of diesel left, which is enough to motor about 150 miles with nothing but fumes left, so we are eeking every bit of progress out of this old girl. We do a lot of sail changes, and a lot of hand steering.
It is all a mental game now, we are almost there (in miles) but we are going so slow it feels like we will be out here forever. I have to stop myself from doing the math (we are going 2.3 knots. At this speed, with 1,145 miles to go, we’ll be there in… oh dear, that’s three more weeks…). There’s not much wind, but there’s also not much swell. Which means we may be going incredibly slow, but it is perfectly comfortable. The sails hardly ever flog about anymore, and sometimes I can even take two whole steps without grabbing onto something!
I had the pre-dawn shift today, which was dark and slow and long. I tried all the tricks to stay awake and pass the time – phone games, jumping jacks, singing to myself… Finally, my shift ended. I woke John up and promptly passed out on the settee.
When I wake up again, there is coffee in the thermos sitting out on the counter. Not wedged in the sink, but just sitting there on its own. I pour myself a cup and join the boys in the cockpit. We’ve given up on “first meal;” it’s hard to come up with a full meal for three with our limited food resources now. I eat some cheese toast, Andrew had some oatmeal when he came on shift, and John fixed himself a PB&J on a tortilla. We are out of eggs, fruit, granola, yogurt and a dozen other things. The only fresh veggies left are a few onions and a butternut squash. I have one more pack of bacon squirreled away in the freezer.
With everyone up and caffeinated, we hoist the big spinnaker for the fourth morning in a row. It takes more babysitting than either our jib or asymmetrical spinnaker but it allows us to sail deeper downwind and holds air much better than our heavy jib. It is a pain to hoist and douse, but it’s the best way to make some forward progress in this light stuff. John and I take turns hand-steering in 2-hour stints because there is not enough wind for Mervin the windvane to drive. When I’m not steering, I’m re-watching Game of Thrones. It helps the time go by, and keeps me from doing that morale-crushing math in my head.
We have miraculously stayed within VHF range of Agape since we first saw them over a week ago. We were still in trade winds and big swell for that first sighting. We kept sails up and hand-steered close enough to trade fresh fish for snickers and yogurt starter (Rachel had been lamenting that her yogurt died) via fishing line. It was such a highlight to see such close friends in an otherwise watery desert, so far from land. We have ducked and weaved with them since then, always in close contact over the radio but with some miles between us, especially at night. We chatter almost constantly on the radio, about everything and nothing.
One common theme is our regularly disappearing fishing lures. The only fish we have landed was a bigeye tuna on our second day at sea. Days go by without a bite, despite running 2-4 lines off the back of the boat at all times. When there is a bite, it’s by a mouth that is too big and instead of reeling in a fish, we reel in a line with nothing but a bite mark on the end. Agape recently hooked into something so big it spooled their fishing pole – ripped every bit of line off the spool and never slowed down. We are all longing for some fresh protein.
Just before sunset we douse the spinnaker in anticipation of a squall that looks like it’s going to roll right over us. On the way down, the spinnaker wraps around the jib, but with quick action and a few choice curse words, Andrew and I are able to clear it and haul the sail down to the deck. By the time the sail is down and secured, the squall has completely dissipated. It’s unfortunate, really; John already had the buckets and hoses and funnels prepared to collect the rain water, and I could use a fresh water shower!
We leave the main up but don’t bother unfurling the jib; there is not enough wind for it to fill and the boat is quiet and comfortable without it flopping around. The weather report from DogBark! on our nightly SSB chat confirms what we already know; the rest of the passage will look much the same, with no new wind in our future. We also learn what you call the Queen of England after she’s had a bath (CLEAN Elizabeth).
I pass that gem along to Agape (both the weather report and the joke) and we chat about what they’ve rummaged up for dinner, the beautiful moonrise, and how excited we are to take a walk on land, sleep through the night, and eat avocados. We have been at sea long enough now to observe a full rotation of the moon, from full to gone and back again. It is bright enough tonight to replace headlamps as we eat our pasta with canned sauce and dream of cheeseburgers.[category: Life onboard]