Max and I have been under sail now for three full weeks and we’re only a few days away from our destination of Hiva Oa in the Marquesas island group in French Polynesia. We have sailed in stormy weather, the doldrums and the southern trade winds.
At this point, there is little to say. We have gotten used to the slow, monotonous life aboard. Even in the balmy trade winds, the constant motion of the boat makes everything difficult. Every time it feels calm enough to set something down or to sit in a relaxed position, some 3-sigma wave gives us a big roll to put us in our place, tossing the tools across the salon or drenching the towels that have finally dried. We have gotten better at finding stable positions aboard and falling gracefully into things when we try to move about. But we really, really look forward to easing Akela into Baie Tahauku, dropping anchor, and bringing this passage to an end.
Max and I have fallen into an easy daily rhythm. At night, Max usually takes the first watch from 9-3 and I’m on from 3-9. This gives nearly a full night’s sleep. We each have gotten good at singlehanding the boat and sleeping through violent motion and noise. Things that were exciting only two weeks ago have become tiresome. Last night we went through a storm while Max was sleeping. In the driving rain and roaring wind, I harnessed up, shortened sail, and adjusted our heading as a simple matter of course. I suppose that anything would be like this. Things that seem wildly exciting and difficult can become ordinary with enough repetition.
We continue to eat well. Nearly all of our fresh provisions are gone, but we still have some eggs, potatoes, and vacuum packed meats (especially bacon!). We also have quite a supply of dry goods and canned food. Since we are paying more attention to our diet, we eat better now than we did at home.
We manage to fill the time. In addition to attending to the constant tasks required by the boat, we have been reading (with difficulty) and listening to audiobooks. We play card games (with great difficulty) and solve crossword puzzles together. We did see one boat! We came within 3 miles of a Japanese research vessel. We regularly see schools of flying fish taking flight and pods of dolphins crossing our path or playing in our bow wave. We are always “fishing”, but we should rename this activity “putting lures in the water and hoping.” We haven’t caught anything for 2 weeks. And on March 8, we crossed the equator into the Southern Hemisphere. We had a party with speeches, live music, drinking, dancing, and fireworks. (Yes, the parachute flares that expired in 1998 still work!).
I had thought of this passage as an experiment. I love sailing and traveling to new out-of-the-way places, but how would I do with a long blue water passage? In short, I think I do fine. I know that I can handle the rough stuff and endure the monotony. I wouldn’t say that I enjoy this passage, but I’m glad to say that I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.