Friday, March 21, 2014

Passage in the Pacific - Day 7

Sent from sea - day 7

Position: [01.6234,-081.0284] at 6am EST

Weather: [Cooler - around 24C/75F (but it feels much colder with the wind) and overcast, it really does not feel tropical and we are less than 100 miles from the equator! Yesterday I spent most of the day and night in foul weather gear to keep the wind and the cold at bay. The solar panel has been useless for days now, and the wind is not strong enough to keep up with our power needs.]

Sailing conditions: [Frustrating.... Our good headway yesterday did not last long and we ended up sailing SE/SSE most of the day (slowly) when we really wanted to get SW. We seem currently to be moving (slowly) more westerly for now, but I dare not hope it will last. We are sailing close-hauled in 6kt of wind. Seas are much calmer at least. Yesterdays high seas were enough to start to remove the trampoline, so that needed some daredevil fixing from both of us at various times during the day.]

Food: [Fajitas, and snacks.]

General Comments: [We are way more East than we had hoped or wanted; off the coast of Colombia (Equador?). Overnight Kyle has passed close by to two separate fishing boats... I didn't think about it much until I saw the 2nd one and realized that these were OPEN fishing boats. These poor fishermen are out in the open ocean with no cover from rain/sun/cold/spray... They seem so miserable that I feel less so for myself, and they had what seemed to be an open fire aboard to make their morning coffee - Yikes. They waved happily as we passed.

As for our progress.... grrrrrrr. We are seriously discussing skipping the Galapagos. We will need to continue to sail up wind (zig zag) towards it, and if we continue at our current speed then we'll not be able to spend any time there once we arrive. We haven't decided for sure yet, but will keep an eye on the forecasts. It may just be that we turn and head for Hawaii (where we also know there are frustrating areas of no/light winds to contend with).]

Progress: so far we've made [516] nm on this passage and have [682] nm to go. Last 24 hours we made [65] nm (although not in the right direction unfortunately).

Updated after the fact

At sea sunset and sunrise are a welcome splash of color

We spent the yet more days tacking back and forth along the Colombian coast at a distance of about 50-100nm. At our closest approach at about 40nm on the seventh day we caught a fishing line and slowed to a crawl as Begonia struggled to pull a ¼ mile long string of floats, line and 5” baited hooks. We tried everything we could with our boat hooks, but were not able to free the line from the reach of the cockpit. The problem was the line was polypropylene - very cheap and it floats - so even if you can get the tension out of it, it won’t fall free of the boat. Eventually I had to don mask and fins and go for a swim to free it, being very careful not to get near the hooks. Once we were underway again an open fishing boat approached. With a hard to understand accent in Spanish and hand gestures, the man asked us if our prop had cut his line. I replied that it hadn’t, that I had freed it by swimming and unhooking it. It took about three tries to get the message across, but once he got it he seemed much happier. He then said that he and the other guy were thirsty and asked us if we had any coke cola? I said we were sorry, but we didn’t, he seemed surprised that a boat flying the US flag didn’t have barrels of the stuff. I asked if he needed anything else and he declined, bidding us “buen viaje” and chugging off towards the mainland. {Maryanne: In hindsight he may have been asking us to fill his coke bottle with water, and if this was the case I feel terrible!}

This passage was beginning to get frustrating, although we had been able to eke out almost 100 miles per day by carefully playing every wind puff with the sails, we were generally not making much progress to our destination (maybe 20 miles). The weather had also been surprising, at between 1 degree and 3 degrees north, with the sun about to cross the equator itself, heading for a northern summer, we expected it to be crazy hot. Instead we had days of skies with a hazy featureless overcast and the air even had a bit of a chill in it. We were wearing jackets and hats on night watches.

By this point we had expected to be only a couple of hundred miles out of Galápagos, but we still had almost 1000nm. Missing most of that weather window when leaving Panáma really killed our chances.

Then, just after noon, we caught another fishing line. Ugh!

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