We saw a ship today. It was the first sign of life, other than a seabird, flying fish or the swimming variety of fish, that we had seen in almost a week. We haven't seen a plane or even a satellite. We are truly in a very remote part of the world. Mind you, there is a bit of a community here in the South Pacific all the same. Twice a day the Oyster fleet hold a SSB call. Matters relating to everyone's position and sailing conditions are discussed. They then move on to more pressing issues such as, if anyone had caught a huge fish (I did yesterday BTW!...), sharing meal ideas and the other day, a sing song. The SSB is a crackly, tricky bit of kit to master. It's like a marine HAM radio. Communications have become so easy back in the world that we've briefly escaped from, that it's easy to take it for granted. Having to work to establish communications somehow adds some extra value to it.
Other aspects of this ocean crossing challenges other perspectives. I find myself brushing my teeth for longer, as I become transfixed by the view through the hull window in our heads, of wave after wave lifting us and sweeping away from the boat. The effect is amplified by the window being at wave height and occasionally plunging below the water level. As we are roughly half way between the Galapagos and The Marquesas, it occurred to me that if I point the in the direction of nearest bit of the dry land, I have to point down through a substantial piece of the earth's crust, even though we're hovering 4 km over it.
Log at midnight 1608 nautical miles.
23rd of March
Last night, the wind shifted about 20° to the left. With our sail set up, main on a preventer, jib poled out, both on the starboard side of the boat, we were obliged to follow the wind until daybreak. The plan was to gybe it in the morning. We're not racing, so the emphasis is on not taking chances with boat, material or crew, so accept the change in course until we have daylight. A bright moonlit night gave way to a beautiful sunrise. We gybed the genoa and set the staysail before breakfast. It's a real pleasure performing any kind of manoeuvres on this boat. Every system is so well thought out and the rigging and deck hardware is of the highest quality. After breakfast and a few chores, we laid out the foredeck cushions to pass a lazy morning, admiring the towering spread of canvas above us and savour the sights and sounds of the tops of the waves breaking around us as the boat drives on. In the afternoon, the wind dropped from over 20kts to around 18kts. It fell into the range of our secret downwind weapon, the trade-wind sail. It's essentially a double jib, goose winged and on the same roller reefing system. It's boomed out using the spinnaker pole on one side of the boat and the mainsail boom on the other. It's used instead of jib and mainsail, so there's no risk of accidental gybing of the main. It's deployment is
elegance itself. Once it's partially unfurled, the wind fills it and spreads it open fully, like the wings of a butterfly. Apart from looking incredibly fetching, it allows you to sail dead down wind. The day was rounded out the most spectacular of sunsets, where the sun dropped into the ocean with indecent equatorial haste, only for the sky to flare into a spectrum of reds and oranges, before the canopy of stars rolled in from the east.
Log at midnight 1791 nautical miles
24th of March
Unlike many people, I didn't take the opportunity during lock-down to learn to bake bread. In a way, being confined to a boat during an ocean crossing, is a form of a very agreeable lock-down. So as part of my personal development program, I made my first attempt at bread making today. It's hard to see how anyone could get mixing five ingredients wrong. Somehow, I managed to be a little 'off' at every stage of the process. I'm prepared to withdraw my sneering at all those people who earnestly tried to impress me with their description of the art of breadmaking. After mangling it until the lumps were less big, I formed it into an approximate loaf shape. I eventually got it into the oven, after the prognosis by the experts on board was 'sure, you might as well'. I have no idea how long it was in the oven, as we were having such a grand time on deck, I completely forgot about it. It wasn't black, but it was impressively hard. The advice was to cover it for now, and that somehow, it might magically soften overnight. I find that as likely as the prospect of it turning into a wedding cake. I believe that the saying that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, may also apply to loaves of bread, provided that I manage to cut a slice.
Log at midnight 1975 nautical miles.
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