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Crossing the Pacific--Ships Log

Today we will leave civilization. We will hoist and stow anchor and sail south across the doldrums and then 3200 nautical miles west/southwest across the largest ocean, the greatest wilderness left, on the planet. We’ve been preparing for this for several years and as such there is little trepidation, but great seriousness in our preparation. This will be the most challenging accomplishment of our lives thus far. There have been many other achievements, but nothing as remotely close to the reality of taking the lives of the people we love the most, putting them in a 20 ton boat and navigating for three weeks, day and night without land. Is the boat sound? Do we know enough to repair sails, winches, lines, electronics, motors, pumps, navigational equipment, people? Is the boat ready? Are we ready? There is no coast guard. There is no Boat US. No AAA. No ticket agent to which to complain. No way to turn around. We can’t fly home if we’re having a bad time. Helicopters can’t reach us, planes can’t land. What ever happens will have to be managed by ourselves. We have no other recourse. This is the greatest freedom, the greatest test of self reliance, of inter-reliance, the greatest adventure a family, much less a human being, can have on the planet. There are no rules or laws of mankind out there, only those of nature, weather and physics. As we remind the girls, and as they know by now: while fun can, adventure can’t happen in a movie theatre or an amusement park. If you know you can get ice cream afterwards, it’s not adventure. Adventure is when you don’t know what will happen, when you don’t know that everything will be alright. There are no guarantees. You might have to look inside yourself to find the answer. Some may understand this ambition and some may rightly not, but all great triumph and discovery, all great human achievement has been accomplished in the same manner. Adventure provides the deepest participation in the human experience, the most profound and useful lesson: anything is possible with mettle. Perseverance trumps any adversary. Will is your greatest attribute.

Pacific Crossing Day 1

Its 1:14 am on March 4th. We’ve been out 13 hours, motoring mostly but with a nice bit of breeze through the afternoon. Coming round as we left Santa Maria the sun deep in its western arc, Lilly heard dolphins from her bunk. We all came to the bow to watch the escort. About 5-6 big dolphin swam about the bow chirping and squeaking with each other. Then after about 10 minutes they scattered. On to other businesses.

Squalls appeared south of us on the horizon a la Maxfield Parrish. A perfect first day.

Pacific Crossing Day 2:20190304

After a great first day, not so much sleep last night. Most of my watch we dodged squalls. After the first refreshing few we just aimed to miss them. They don’t move much so close to the equator. No Coriolis effect. You just steer around them. We’re heading 222. Just slightly More south than west till we meet the trades. As they fill in we’ll head then more west than south, on one long tack to the Gambiers. We need enough wind to overcome the sea state which is moderately rolly. Wind fills the sails and stabilizes the ship, so now with little wind we’re much more rolly than I’d like.

No complaints from the crew however. Just that general first bit of malaise now starting to wear off.

Girls did a full school day today, punctuated by an albacore tuna arriving around 3:30 pm. Little guy. Maybe 5 lbs. thought about returning him, but he was pretty tuckered out. He’s in the fridge.

We’ve covered about 235nm since starting at noon yesterday. Not too bad. Running at around 1100 rpm off and on. And sails assisting our 6.9-8.2 kts. Low rpm saves diesel. Which we’ll need in the Gambiers when we get there. We’ve started with about 940 litres. We burn less than 100 a day motoring at this rate. Hopefully we can turn off the engine tomorrow.

Step count today:485 P&H combined! Tomorrow some squats and pushups!

Girls are up on “watch” watching a video.

Finally getting into my book: to the edge of the world. Next is Typee by Melville.

Another beautiful sunset tonight. Fewer cumulonimbus but every shade of bruise.

Hasta Manyana. Or as they say in Gambiers Au demain! As I recall.

Pacific Crossing Day 3:20190305

We’ve traveled a little over 400nm since we’ve started. Today around 1500 the wind filled in a bit and we’ve had the motor off since then. Not that it’s that loud, but it appeals to my sense of solitude and to the economy of sailing. The loudest sound on the boat becomes the water rushing by the hull. The boat leans more and there’s great energy in its motion. It feels alive. And it is as she sails herself essentially, in our berth you can hear the small adjustments of the autopilot to the rudder to stay on course.

As the sun set tonight we put up a webbing security and sat on the stern, feet and legs dangling in the rushing cobalt water. So close to it you really feel like you’re moving! Water is jetting out the back of the boat. 8 knots feels like twenty five . 9 like a hundred. We loved it.

As the motor is off now we turn our attention to a different economy. That of the electrical system. The motor churned out watts and kept the batteries at 100%, and to charge them if we wanted we could run the engine, but no need. Solar does most of our work, when the sun is up we’re charging the batteries, 1000 watts of power. But as the night deepens the batteries have a hard time keeping up with our demands. Autopilot, occasional radar, chart plotter and AIS all take power, so sometime in the early morning I’ll run the generator to add a bit.

Spirits still good, but the gravity of 3 weeks is settling in with the crew. The initial excitement has waned some. We’ve largely made the turn and now follow the great circle to the Gambiers.

It’s cool at night here and the stars are wonderfully foreign.

S/V IBIS Pacific Crossing Day 4:20190306

A largely uneventful day. We have a fairly large sea out of the south east. 3-4 meters and variable winds 12-20 kts. Rain off an on today. Today we foul hooked a small mahi-mahi big enough to feel guilty about too small to eat. Several squid and flying fish on deck this am. Never saw the sun today and there is a nice salty ryme over most everything on the boat. We’re making fairly good time. We have about 2400nm to go.

Looking at the satellite images yesterday this was expected today.

Tomorrow’s prediction: a return of the tropical sun and seas continue. It’s good to have wind, but this boat goes quite fast with little. 8 kts is easy with 12-14 on the beam. But 8-9 kts is too fast in this ocean. I’d like to get there quickly, but with a minimum of repairs. There is no west Marine where we are headed.

Another successful school day. No games or movies until home work is done. That’s the rule. Not that we’ve got great WiFi.

The malaise continues. Poor rest and weird hours turns us to cats. Napping frequently and for no reason.

We did see one ship on AIS today. The Methane Princess. Really. We gave her a wide berth. Probably name our next boat something like that!

S/V IBIS Pacific Crossing Day 5:20190307

There’s a lot more wind out here than the Gribs would suggest. We’re seeing 20-26 kts and the models show 16-18. Zesty Sailing today with some bigger waves. They are at our port 100-110 degrees. Caught a gorgeous mahi late in the afternoon, a challenge to fillet with the boat action.

Wind picks up in the afternoon and extends into the late evenings before piping down in the morning for a while. Then back again. We’re running a 2nd reef in the main and Genoa. Spirits good had a nice vege frittata for lunch. Thanks Tony and Dana!

Should be like this for a week or so.

We’re making good time!!

S/V IBIS Pacific Crossing Day 6:20190308

This was one of those days that will blend into the others. Nothing terribly different about today. Sea state the same. In the morning it’s about 2 meters. By noon three meters. By evening 4 with an occasional 5 meter wave. Then late evening the wave size starts to reduce. We played with different wind angles today. 240 vs 270 heading is radically different. Also with sail configuration. We split the power between 3 main sails: the Genoa, the main and the mizzen. We get good balance that way. Also with autopilot configuration. The problem with the auto pilot is that in a big wave it over corrects and steers us to the south and we broach a bit. With hand steering it’s really very smooth. I played with gain and a bunch of other settings. I could never transplant my patience into the machine. Going slower works a bit. I just shortened sail and now we’re 5 kts down from 7. Probably a 60-70% improvement in boat action.

On a separate note the GPS in my iPhone bit the dust. We still have about 10 GPSs so not a big deal, but quite annoying! I did a hard reset, resent the privacy settings etc. no dice. Oh well.

Spirits good, but as the days start to add up the ratio of (wow this is a big ocean) to (we’re almost there not much further to go) continues to favor the numerator.

No fishing today.

S/V IBIS Pacific Crossing Day 7:20190309

Today was the best day of sailing we’ve had since the Galapagos. We had a consistent 18 kts on the beam, and the sea state reflected it. Big rollers but not the chops to the side of the boat with poops in the cockpit. It went smoothly. Spirits high, we’re firmly into the middle of the trip with well over a thousand miles sailed. We left Galapagos with over a hundred eggs. French toast for breakfast this am outside. We sat outside a good portion of the day read short stories aloud to each other. As the sun set, a thin sliver of a moon followed her down.

Just now the wind has picked up. As it does for the first few hours of evening before calming down.

S/V IBIS Pacific Crossing Day 8:20190310

We have about 1755 to go. Still well over half the distance. Watching the clouds today, listening to Hall and Oates, hooking up with a pretty large mahi reading to the kids, we are quite aware that all of it had been done for the first time here. There is no one out here. We cut a swath of about 50 miles with our AIS antenna. We haven’t seen another signal since the methane princess 4 days ago. This is truly some of the last wilderness on earth.

Today was another great day of sailing. Ibis just made easy miles jogging along at 8-8.5 kts during the day. At night we’re about 2/3rd reefed in the main and Genoa to bring us down to 6 kts. Anything can happen any time. But it seems quieter, more reasonable below.

Girls on till midnight, Helen then myself.

It was gray most of the day but we still made 4.3kw of equatorial solar power.

Fish tacos for dinner.

We find ourselves thankful for very basic things.

I need to learn some of these new constellations!

S/V IBIS Pacific Crossing Day 9:20190311

Today was a pretty good day of sailing, after probably the worst night I’ve had sailing. We changed sail patterns at least 20 times last night. Luckily it’s easy to do from the cockpit. We had wind from 8-30 kts and seas about 3-4 meters. Wind would shift 90 degrees in 5 minute. No rain and you couldn’t see any squalls on radar. I didn’t sleep. This morning started out rough and gray, but by about 10 am the wind remained a sustained 15-18 and the seas adjusted to the constant stroking of the wind as predicable. Also the weather models came into general confluence regarding a low moving across the Gambiers next week. Which is still far out. Lots can change.

This afternoon we heard the hand line go off. Attached to a bungee it ripped aft and shot back towards the cockpit. I looked back into the cobalt wave and chasing our lure was a huge flash of turquoise and gold. It would slide off to the side and follow in the waves, watching or evaluating the lure, dorsal fun flaring and colors changing perhaps with its emotion. It was stunning. We didn’t catch it and I was glad. It was simply beautiful.

Another thought. Birds. They’re not uncommon out here. A fair variety too. On the wind the ride about a foot off the water and undulate with the waves. They must migrate to nest.

Likely tomorrow we will cross both the halfway mark and into the pacific time zone.

Panama is due south of Miami. Gambiers are due south of Juneau Alaska.

S/V IBIS Pacific Crossing Day 10:20190312

An interesting day to say the least. 1500 miles from nearest land we met up with some sailing friends in the middle of the pacific. S/G Argo turned and met us. It’s the most bizarre sight to see another sail on the horizon when you’ve seen nothing for days.

They came about and sailed on our port quarter and we chatted on the radio. And so now in tandem we’re heading to the Gambiers. Pretty cool to see them. But now, interestingly, the most dangerous ship in the ocean is Argo for us and ourselves for Argo. And so we have to stay pretty frosty through out our watches, making certain neither of us drifts closer to the other as we sail on the same heading, same port tack.

Ships rarely sink at sea. They catch on fire at the dock, run aground, run into the fuel dock, get caught in fishing nets, run into buoys and channel markers. This is how most boats either sink or sustain damage. It’s extremely rare, and yet counterintuitive to non-sailors that ships sailing blue water, far from coasts are actually the safest vessels. It’s really hard for storm to sink a boat at sea, when theres nothing nearby to put a hole in its hull. I guarantee 99.9% of all marine claims for the 2017 hurricanes season occurred to boats moored, docked or anchored. And ironically our insurance company should fire their actuaries, as they specifically asked us to stay close to land. That’s how I knew their underwriters are landlubbers.

The wind has shifted. As we sail west the wind shifts more to our stern to be out of the east and so the action of the boat changes as well. More waddling, less jogging. The wind speeds have dropped as well. We’ve entered the pacific time zone, to our north the Arizona, California state line.

Today I had a lot of canvas out, the Genoa poled out, a mizzen spinnaker and then the mizzen sail as well. In 10 knots of apparent breeze at 150 degrees we made 7 knots which I find shockingly great. We were even pulling away from Argo, a brand new 48 foot leopard catamaran. Sailing down the wind you need more of it to go, as your vector takes from the incident wind and the wind as it appears to the boat is far less then the actual wind. 20 knots on your stern, feels like 10 when you’re going 10 downwind. Going upwind the converse is true.

So we sail on into the night, crossing for certain the halfway mark today, and on down towards our Gambiers. An oily sliver of moon falls away to our western horizon. The boat creaks differently with the pole. And we stay alert for the argonauts on our port beam.

S/V IBIS Pacific Crossing Day 11:20190313

After dinner, about 45 minutes ago I stepped outside and laid myself down in the cockpit, and opened my eyes. I can say with near certainty, nary a man made photon made it to my retinas. I was stunned. We’ve seen dark skies before, 650 miles into the Atlantic, crossing the Caribbean Sea, in the Bahamas or the Perlas. I have never seen a sky so dramatic as this. I exclaimed out loud to myself. We have a half moon just north of Orion’s Belt tonight. And what’s so interesting is than in every night sky I can remember the moon is the death of the stars. But not in this sky. The stars are shockingly bright. There is a carpet of them and the Milky Way as a backdrop to the moon. The nearest land is now likely Pitcairn Island, followed by the Gambiers. Neither are likely to be big light contributors. We may be in one of the darkest places on the planet.

Today we sailed all day with Argo on our beam. Kids chatted a bit on the radio. Now, I can just barely see their tricolor light atop their mast some 7 miles distant.

Today was our best day of sailing. The winds light, we checked the weather and as I mentioned previously we’re dealing with a wild card weather event rolling from west to east next week. It sets up a dead zone of stagnant air 4-600 miles wide north of the Gambiers. We essentially have to sail around the calm. The question is go south first then west? Or the converse. Models are split. Well the winds decided today, a 30 degree turn south put the wind at about 85 degrees, a perfect beam reach. Seas 6-10 feet, big rollers rolling right under our beam. We’d ride the swell up and right as it passed beneath us the boat would list to port forcing the masts and 3 sails right into the wind. We would roll and fall off the crest with an exhilarating thrust down hill. An acceleration down, balanced and coordinated with the wind holding off the fall of the sails perfectly. For about 6 hours we enjoyed clipping along at an easy 8 knots with accelerations to 9. Nothing rough or slapping just the smoothest up ten feet and then slide down the other side.

Later, Helen and I sat on the stern (clipped in) and dragged our feet in the clear cobalt blue chatting till sundown.

Now with dinner finished the boats tucked in for the night. A slight reef in the main so the Genoa doesn’t collapse. Moonlight to guide the sailshaping, and a blazing firmament in the depths above us.

We are 6.7 kts SOG, 219 COG. Awa -100, Aws 11kts

We’ll be channel 16.

S/V IBIS Pacific Crossing Day 12:20190314

Someone turned off the wind. That’s what it feels like to go down wind, especially when you didn’t have much to begin with. Reading grib files (compacted weather maps) is a little like reading tea leaves. It’s hard to know where to go, when you might be there to avoid or take advantage of specific weathers. I came to this conclusion this morning. Every mile made on the rhumbline is a mile made good. And I’d rather be going 5.5 kts in the right direction than 8 in the wrong. So back to the rhumbline. Minimal wind means minimal waves which everyone enjoyed today.

We pulled out our asymmetric spinnaker today and for several hours of flogging had that on the leeward side of the boat and our Genoa poled out the the windward. We had full sail!! Maximum canvas out. I think we went a half knot faster than our current configuration of Jib and Jigger. Mizzen out and Genoa. We’ll try again tomorrow. Dead down wind is hard work. Constantly trying to tweak any little thing to get a quarter knot. One knot difference is 24 miles in a day. And 2-300 miles difference in the course of our remaining time and distance. It’s big!

Stars are out tonight and with the help of our Pal Venu and our trusty glow in the dark sky map we’re starting to put some names to these new southern constellations.

Now with a bit less wind, the predominant sound on the boat is the water rushing by the hull.

S/V IBIS Pacific Crossing Day 13:20190315

Today we worked for our miles and did pretty well for it. We got up early and changed things around. For the past 36 hrs and for the likely next 48 we have a migration pattern. Genoa poled out to port, main to the starboard to blanket when deploying and retrieving a new spinnaker also deployed to the starboard during the day. And so early we put up that pattern. But actually the opposite because the wind seemed from the starboard predominantly at first. So then we had to change it all back. But once we did we did great for the lousy wind at least. We averaged about 6.3-6.5 kts for about 12-14 true wind up the ole tailfeathers. AND we ran neck and neck with Argo all day, did I mention it was a 48 foot 2018 leopard cat! That was fun, because hands down that should be a faster boat. Especially down wind. We had a LOT of canvas out. Well that went to heck when the sun started to set because the wind and everything changed and ruined the whole beautiful ballet. At least it was a great sunset and Helen made an awesome dinner with really the last of our 80 lbs of veggies we started with in Galapagos.

A nice day. Girls got lots of homework done and I’ll admit it started out nicely because Helen didn’t wake me for my watch: she was up the whole night. Doing laundry, making a great breakfast, so I woke after a full nights rest on my own accord at 5 with fresh coffee and a sunrise with my beloved! She’s sleeping soundly now!

And so we sailed on our huge wings today, downwind and down swell. Lots of solar. 6.5k watts. A record for us. We cleaned out a freezer, listened to music, fished fruitlessly, and chatted about the beginnings of America’s industrial revolution in history as well as the Bernoulli principle.

Tonight, Helen still asleep the girls and I did yet another sail change in the dark. They are good!! We suited up with our life jackets and lines to the jack lines and switched the pole to the other side and the mast to its opposite. It’s better. A little less rolly as we’re polled out to leeward. And a little more speed. 4.4 kts avg. yuck. Argo is going to fly their spinnaker all night and we’ll be in their dust in the morning. Cats!!

The moon is advancing nicely filling the cockpit with a cool clean light. I can see the stark white foam trails from the bow wave slide on by quietly. About a thousand miles to go. Some interesting sailing ahead. I’m going to close my eyes till midnight, when the girls come off watch. Hopefully Helen will sleep well tonight.

S/V IBIS Pacific Crossing Day 14:20190316

Tomorrow noon will be exactly 2 weeks at sea. Not bad. Veggies gone. Spirits high. Morale intact. Last night was a challenging night. Several sail changes and then really no wind. Same today. We put up every combo. We flogged with slight puffs of wind at our stern. Our best hull speed was about 4 knots. Until I fired up the motor. I really don’t like to use it, but it was waddle and flog or get to some wind. I did a few calculations on the motor. We’re going about 5.5- 6 knots at 1100rpm. At 1300 we use 2.89liters per hour. I figure we’re using around 2.5l/hr. I plotted the weather and plugged in the Gambiers we’ll find wind likely in about 350- 400 miles. And whatever we get along the way we’ll use. We have 7-8 kts of tws at 170 degrees.

Que sera sera.

A long slow day today. I could see A few squalls in the west at sunset tonight and now we’re heading into them. I can see them on the radar. Bright red orbs floating out in the future. I love their deck washing abilities. If we have continued rain I figured out a rain collection system but we need clean decks first.

Watched several movies with Helen. About halfway through Typee by Melville. Did history with the girls and talked about why we do what sail configurations.

I got them up early this am to put up the spinnaker, they were a little grouchy until they felt the pride of doing something a bit complicated and well. They make us proud, and themselves when they do something challenging.

Perhaps my favorite time on the boat is sunset. We’re usually all up top taking it in. It’s almost always spectacular. But it’s fast at these low latitudes. Too fast. I find myself sticking around for the afterglow because the primary event went so quickly.

So the game plan: 900nm to go. About half that to find wind, but on the rhumbline. We’ve got plenty of diesel, but the plan is always use as little as possible. It’s expensive in FP, somewhat hard to get. We will Motor till it doesn’t make sense. And take breaks and test to see if the wind will carry us, but I know at present it’s hopeless.

The gribs suggest we’ll meet a good amount of wind around 20d59min south 126deg west. A isobar line and pressure gradient. It’s a low sliding under (south) us. It will steal all the wind for about 100 miles to its north. Then we’ll get reversal when we pass through the front and wind 20-30kts from the south south east. And bigger waves too. That will mean with a cruising speed of 8+kts 15-20 or so apparent just abaft the beam and down weather, slightly down ocean that angle can work the autopilot. Should be pretty nice. There will be some nausea, but that will be the final leg. Going to enter the atoll through the northwest passage. That-away we’re working upwind but downwind from the breakwater of the atoll itself. Despite the wind we’ll have calm ocean and and an easy passage inside.

S/V IBIS Pacific Crossing Day 15:20190317

After motoring through the night I noticed at sunrise a different motion to the boat: heeling, which means wind. A slight but constant 10 knots on the beam. Genoa and mizzen spinnaker all day for around 5-7.5 kts of boat speed. Compliments of Neptune. It shut down around 4 and so we went for a dip off the transom. Amazing water. Like deep blue glass. Speaking of the transom were covered in gooseneck barnacles, which are allegedly a delicacy. We’ll be getting a shave here in a few days. 780 miles to go. We have 3 kts of wind at present. The key is to not go so fast, bide our time and wait for the wind to come to us. That old sailing trick called patience.

Tonight on the western horizon the sky is completely blotted our save a few specks of orange making it through the magenta. If it’s moving we’re likely moving at the same speed. We’ll see. It looks angry.

Now to read and correct reports on the Society Islands.

S/V IBIS Pacific Crossing Day 16:20190318

There is a unique and wonderful motion that occurs in a calm sea as a sailboat takes to wind. We’d been motoring last night with a little sail out to steady the ship, like we are now, tonight. Early this morning I could feel the undulations of the ship change. Without wind, without sails out, a boat leans too and fro with a certain rhythmic frequency and pattern. The arc of motion passes through the zenith and then down the other side with an equal discursion before swinging back to complete the cycle. Not unpleasant, not unlike the gentle swing of a hammock. But this morning that changed. The arc would reach the zenith and with a little shudder and jig the boat would lean back to the same deep side. That could only mean one thing. Wind pressing the mast over, and so early this morning I put on my vest and poled out the Genoa and raised a mizzen spinnaker. And I turned off the motor. What sweet quiet, what complete peace. Wind in the wings,

water on the hull. No one stirred, probably all of the souls inside simply resigned to deeper slumber. The sun rose in a peach sky and we sailed all day on a beautiful beam reach in calm seas. Winds were light, 8-12kts but we did just fine making about 5-7 kts most of the day.

Almost on que, tonight when the moon rose and the sun settled in the west, the breeze dropped like a pall before a storm. We waddled while we ate dinner. A few puffs would fill the sails, then they’d go slack. And so we put on the engine again. 1100, diesel sparring, rpm. Hopefully tomorrow is the same with a return of the breezes. The gribs argue against it, but they have argued the same for the past few days and we’ve had reasonable wind.

I sat on the bowsprit tonight, the girls cleaning the galley, and watched the moonlight over the ocean. Rivers of quicksilver ran over the deepest gunmetal blue, pendulous with the swell.

S/V IBIS Pacific Crossing Day 17:20190319

We sailed through the last night and well into the day before the wind dropped and we saw a wall of soot in front of us. Radar revealed several holes in the front and we aimed for one of them. Passing through we had a bit of rain but nothing remarkable. And now we motor through a nomans land of no wind and socked in clouds. There’s no moon tonight. There was no sunset. Tomorrow morning we should reach the outer bands of wind and then I think it’s a fast ride. There’s moderately large short phase waves from the beam. This could be sloppy and rocky. Looks like a couple of days of that before we turn down weather and down seas. We’ll see.

Turkey burgers for dinner tonight.

It’s dark outside.

S/V IBIS Pacific Crossing Day 18:20190320

As we passed into the front last night and this morning the winds and seas were confused. I thought we’d be on the other side of the edge by noon, but as a write this the winds are still changing direction by 90-150 degrees every so often. It makes it difficult to set up a sail pattern, when moments after you set it up the wind changes 90 degrees.

On a starboard tack this afternoon we hooked into a 20lb Bluefin. We brought him in and filleted him. It was challenging because the boat would rock 25 degrees in each direction, but we got everything useable off. 20 minutes later the wind shifted to a port beam reach and then a deluge. Glad I wasn’t still filleting in the rain and blood sliding around on the decks!

I’ve changed or tweaked sails at least 30 times today.

The bluefin was spectacular. Iridescent with a deeply iridescent tongue like the nacre of abalone.

We got probably 16 pounds of beautiful translucent meat off him. And then tonight we pan seared and sashimied him up, a little wasabi and soy sauce. Really fantastic.

No moon again tonight as the clouds obstruct the sky nearly completely.

420 nm to go. Were very close, but still a lot of sailing to do, and some of it quite technical.

S/V IBIS Pacific Crossing Day 19:20190321

244 nm to go.

Fairly large seas. Wind to balance the efforts. A little cabin fever but to be expected.

About a day and a half left.

No complaints from the crew!

S/V IBIS Pacific Crossing Day 20:20190322

Tomorrow and we’ll be there. The wind dropped for a good portion of the day today and so we motored for about 2-3 hours, until luckily the wind picked up. There is a slot of entry into an atoll. It get more challenging as we head west, small entries, strong currents, rare slack tides and standing waves. Not to mention bommies, essentially large coral stalagmites coming up from the floor, which can rupture a hull or snag an anchor chain.

Entering the Gambiers is best done in the day, and in the afternoon as the sun is above or behind you, not reflecting off the water in front of you. So today was about controlling speed, and not too much and not too little to get there on time. It’s hard to know if the wind will drop, or change vectors. You don’t and so my philosophy was make time and then bleed off the speed as we get closer. But the wind has been on our tail, our worst angle really. The Genoa pole can only take so much load, 3-5 meter seas on the beam as we have had puts a lot of torsional strain on it, add to that the load of the Genoa itself with a variable wind. At over 15 knots True wind speed, which feel like nothing, we’re supposed to reef. And it’s best just to get it right before night, you don’t really want your family tending poles and sails on deck, in the dark, in a rolling sea!

And so we roll on, dodging a few squalls here and there. When they form in front of you they pull you along as they move west with you. When they come up behind they blow through you and then camp on top of you with a deck washing you’d pay for. Often you know of their presence as they suck the wind out of the skies.

Now as I write this all is well on board. There is not a creak of wood or fiberglass, there is not a luff if a sail, there is not a croak of salt encrusted line, not a rattle of the Genoa pole. All has been adjusted, tightened, cleaned or lubricated. The only sounds I can hear are matched to the rising boat and the the surfing slide and rush of the sea along the hull. I could sail another ten thousand miles just like this.

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