Day-to-day life aboard our yacht.
Marshall Islands to Solomon Islands - June 2012
At 6/1/2012 and 01:00 UTC (GMT) our position was: 05°55.91'S / 172°22.42'E.
We were traveling 187T degrees true at 3.7 knots.
Philip woke me for my watch at 10 pm and I came on deck groggy from the warm cabin and interrupted sleep to meet a glorious moonlit night and cool breezes. Sitting in the lee aft edge of the cockpit coaming sipping my sweet milky black tea I suddenly heard a dolphin at close range surface exhale and dive. He was not alone; the pod of small dolphins frolicked about Carina for a half an hour or so, sparking bursts of phosphorescence as they surfaced. It was one of those perfectly peaceful sailing moments...
At 6/1/2012 and 10:42 UTC (GMT) our position was: 06°28.17'S / 172°13.98'E.
We were traveling 195T degrees true at 3.4 knots.
The melody sung by the rigging slowly lowers in pitch from a screech to a hum as the moon emerges from the thick clouds above and the sea now shimmers as it rushes by. Reefed sails glow as Carina plunges forwards towards the blackest, most ominous cloud imaginable that is the backside of our squall. Only the wooly bear caterpillar-shaped blob on the radar screen slowly falling to lee gives us confidence the worst has passed and it's safe to sheet in the main and let out a bit of genoa. Adrenaline keeps us alert and we train our eyes to windward - breathing once again - while seeking, but hoping not to find, yet another storm.
At 6/1/2012 and 18:07 UTC (GMT) our position was: 06°47.22'S / 172°08.88'E.
We were traveling 176T degrees true at 3.6 knots.
It's 6 am Majuro time and the sky is just beginning to brighten to the east, creating silhouettes of the cumulus clouds that dot the sky. A morning star peaks through, bringing hope of a fine day. Suddenly there's a splash and I catch sight of a fish (???) jumping. But NO, I realize it's a dolphin shooting skyward and flicking its tail and falling back into the sea. Again, it jumped and, perhaps content I'd seen it's gleeful display, disappeared into the dark waters below.
At 6/4/2012 and 11:32 UTC (GMT) our position was: 10°57.57'S / 170°20.85'E.
We were traveling 227T degrees true at 4.5 knots.
The night is brightly lit by the nearly full moon as Carina races up and down the waves, propelled by only a tiny slip of a mainsail and staysail. The seas seem to be calming down a bit but the wind continues strong.
We had hoped to maintain an average speed of <4 knots to make our destination in the late morning of Wednesday, but it seems impossible to slow down this little boat as she surges up the waves and gracefully slides down the other side, galloping through the night. If conditions continue as such we'll heave to sometime tomorrow to allow some hours to pass and to get back on our arrival "schedule".
At 6/6/2012 and 02:06 UTC (GMT) our position was: 12°17.60'S / 168°49.12'E.
After passing Anuta Island yesterday, we hove to in order to push back our expected arrival at Tikopia to coincide with midday so the sun could be overhead for better viewing of coral. We got underway again about 8 pm local time last night, having drifted for seven hours. Despite out minimalist sail plan, we flew through the night propelled by strong trade winds and occasional squalls all the while getting buffeted by large seas. Our timing turned out to be good and we sailed up to our Tikopia approach waypoint at about 10 am local time.
When we first started the engine for our final approach, we found our exhaust was pumping no water. Philip grabbed his wrenches and went below to check the raw water pump belt. The source of the problem is still a mystery but eventually we did get water pumping, lowered the staysail and motor-sailed under mainsail alone directly towards the island as we'd lost our wind to the island's wind-shadow.
Clouds made coral spotting difficult, despite the hour of the day, so our approach and surveying was done very slowly. Coral shelves line the shore where islanders were gathered to fish the reef while the tide was low; no one seemed to pay too much attention to us. One curious fisherman in a dugout outrigger paddled up for a brief chat.
Tomorrow we will launch the dinghy and go to shore and find the chiefs. We had been told there were three but Freddie (our fisherman) assures us there are four. Oh my, now we'll have to come up with four identical gift assemblies...that could be a challenge. For now, we're just tidying up a salt-encrusted Carina while anticipating a long night's sleep in our own bunk. Jake is still swaggering as if at sea but his nose is twitching as he raises his head to explore the island's perfume; he's one happy cat.