[090423, 1823 UTC, Underway to Isles Marquises from Islas Galapagos; 08º 23'S/116º29' W]
We've passed the half way point between the Islas Galápagos and the Iles Marquises, French Polynesia and it's been quite a ride. We have put 1765 miles under our keel and have approximately 1340 miles yet to go to Atuona, Ile Hiva Oa. Those vessels a week or so ahead of us and some behind us struggled to find wind, but we haven't had that problem. About five hours after leaving San Cristobal and while still within the Galápagos, we shut down the iron genoa and began to sail, albeit slowly at first. After the first two days we've had winds in excess of 15 knots (and sometimes over 30 knots!) all day every day and every night.
With winds like this and even with our sails reefed down, Carina has been flying along racking up 130+ nautical mile days and we've been hanging on (literally) for the ride. Waves have been unusually big - up to almost 4 meters - and we're often looking up at a green-blue pinnacle of a mountain of water heading directly at us. Carina generally rises gracefully to let the wave pass under her keel, but we've had a few waves board us. Needless to say Carina is truly salt encrusted from the boarding waves and flying spray.
It would seem like we should have lots and lots of leisure time but it seems like the days fly by. For instance, making meals and cleaning up after meals takes longer than normal when you need one hand just to hang on. We've tried to stick to one pot pressure-cooker meals big enough for leftovers. One of us is always on watch, keeping the sails trimmed, "Bud" the wind vane steering device adjusted, and checking for the ever-present enemy, chafe, and we are reading and napping when possible. Though we've seen no shipping since our third day out, we are ever vigilant for other vessels. We have also been looking for weather buoys reputed to be out here every 15 degrees of longitude, though we have passed close enough to their supposed locations and have seen no evidence visually or on radar that they are where they are supposed to be. Kind of disconcerting. Our VHF radio is constantly tuned to Channel 16, the emergency and hailing channel but has been mute since we've left the Galápagos. We are participating in an every evening check in by HF radio with other vessels underway from Panama to the South Pacific and are sending once daily reports of our position which can be viewed on the internet (see link below).
For the most part we've had lovely, warm sun, but we have had days of squalls when a succession of storm cells would advance every half an hour or so from behind, accelerate and veer the wind (sometimes doubling it) which would send Carina flying to windward, rails in the water. Occasionally there'd be a brief but very wet shower associated with a cell, which would then pass in a few minutes leaving things to return to "normal", at least for a half an hour or so. Once, while Philip was on watch, rain fell so hard that the waves were beaten down and smoky-looking water vapor on the surface made the sea look like it was smoldering.
We haven't seen any other yachts and very little wildlife, only pelagic birds and the ubiquitous flying fish that rise out of the sea in schools (flocks?) of thirty or more and soar across the waves for great distances and sometimes, unfortunately, land kamikaze style on the deck. A friend has tried eating them (flying fish tempura) but we're holding out for dorado which we'll get around to fishing for once things calm down a bit.
The scenery, though very blue, is gorgeous and we never tire of gazing at the Pacific, particularly as we slide up and down enormous long period swells. We've seen the moon through a full half cycle and for the last couple of days have had the joy of watching a crooked-smile crescent ascend just before dawn accompanied by a glowing morning star - a syzygy of sorts - of Venus, Uranus and Mars.
Sus amigos del velero Carina,
Philip, Leslie and el gato supremo, Jake
At 4/23/2009 and 15:28 UTC (GMT) our position was: 08°22.04'S / 116°16.01'W