AS FAR FROM LAND AS WE CAN GET - NOTES FROM THE PACIFIC
Intrepid is now (Friday 24th March) 2000 miles travelled since we left
Galapagos on 10th March and 1000 still to go to the nearest land, the
Marquesas, (which are part of French Polynesia and where Paul Gauguin lived
for the last 3 years of his life). The Pacific is larger than all the land
masses in the world combined, yet only 1% of the Pacific is land (and that
is mainly Papua New Guinea and New Zealand). So there is an awful lot of
sailing without seeing land. We are one of the first yachts to cross this
year, (yachts can't arrive in the Marquesas earlier than April because of
risk of hurricanes from Australia straying east). Some highlights picked by
all of us:
*The dull thwack of fishing line hitting the main sail - the brightly
coloured lure taken by something much too big for our 100lb fishing line,
probably swimming at 20 knots and in just 2 seconds pulling the line and
bungee tight then snapping the line clean through. It was the recoil from
the shattered line that hit the sail just above our heads. And we had been
discussing why nothing seemed to be biting....
*The huge ..vastness of the Pacific, towering blue grey waves, just mile
after mile after mile (Caroline)
*Rolling around in bed (Nicky)- she tells the sea to stop moving for just 1
minute but it never listens
*Celebrating half way with champagne and my home made pizza - very thick
crust - after 1500 miles and 11 days at sea - only another 1500 miles and
another 11 days to go if we do well. 4 of us in a small space that would
make the big
brother house look like a Texan ranch. Luckily no cctv.....
*Rendezvous with fellow traveller yacht Anaconda 1000 miles from the
Galapagos that provided both of us with a photo opportunity - its not often
photographers in open ocean, so both boats snapped like crazy and will swoop
the results when we meet again in Marquesas.
*Christian madly in love with Barbara who is now at University in Freiberg -
he bears up manfully but its hard -they email every day, Christian battles
sea sickness to complete his emails - its rolly at the chart table... Its
tough to find the love of your life and then lose her (geographically)
within 5 days. He did allow himself a lustful glance at the Danish girl on
Anaconda, but it just made it worse...
*Finishing all our fresh meat and most veg and still 11 days to go
*Catching a beautiful dorado - our only fish caught landed so far - and
deciding we had to put it back because it was too young.
*Squalls and more squalls and overcast skies, with winds that gust to 30
knots so we charge down waves corkscrewing madly, then the wind changes
direction from SE to North so I have to change all the sails, then die
altogether then gust
again from a new direction - all this while I am on watch at 2am and the
other 3 are trying to sleep and sails dont get changed quietly .....
*Cabbage (everlasting, no matter how much we eat there is always more of it)
*The forecast predicting 12 knot winds from the East North East and 6 foot
seas when we actually have 25 knots from South East and 12 foot seas...
*The sharp crack and flap that makes everyone tingle and look up... the
genoa sheet (rope) has
been flexed thousands of times at the end where it goes over the pole, and
has had enough - it snaps, and suddenly 4 of us are in action trying to stay
calm, furling the madly flapping sail, moving the sheet from the other side
over, turning the broken sheet end to end and re-attaching it, and letting
the sail out again - total time about 5 minutes. We had noticed the fraying,
but were waiting for calmer weather before attempting to change it - weather
never waits and 2000 miles of ocean is unforgiving.
*Collecting 30 litres of water from our homemade water collection which we
use for washing clothes and ourselves - except Christian and I who shower in
the rain - which always stops just as we are soapy all over....
*The sheer hard work of days when 24 hours of effort in lumpy disorganised
waves and fitful winds produces just 100 miles towards Galapagos - and we
realise that at this rate we would take 1 month to get there.
*The informal multinational radio net I managed to organise in the Galapagos
has grown to 14 boats at all distances (0 to 2500 miles) between Galapagos
checking in at 1630 UTC (GMT) on 6A and 8A frequency and the mutual help
like advice on rigging, bringing in spare parts weather information and
forecasts -and the feeling we are not completely alone.
*Your emails which we look forward to with fierce anticipation - its good to
get mail when you havent seen anyone else for 2 weeks.
*Using 150 litres of our 450 litres of fuel in the first 3 days to get us
through calms around Galapagos............we need that fuel for electricity,
to make our fresh water, to take us round
calms and navigational hazards.....have we enough to get us there with the
fresh water we need?
*Nicky and Caroline's fudge brownies and choc chip cookies.
*Our duogen which gives us 5-10 amps from its pole on the stern, towed along
through the water, 6 million revolutions in just this trip. And the water
maker - 30 litres/hour of fresh deionised water from seawater.
*The sudden encounter in early morning mists with fishing boats on a direct
track for us 2 miles away........who couldn't have been nicer to Caroline on
the VHF although we
really understand what they said (in Japanese Spanish) or why they changed
direction in the way they did.......
*Caroline giving all members of Intrepid reflexology massage, (delightful)
Christian holding star sight seminars, Nicky bringing in the weather maps
and giving navigation advice and I ... psychology counselling..(would you
*Christian and I untangling fishing lines (again) (while bananas rain down
on us from the complete hand of bananas we have on the backstay), and
holding (again) fishing
strategy reviews that produce ......the same result (no landed fish) - they
are simply too big for our tackle when they do strike, and on our only
really heavy tackle they dont strike. No-one else caught anything either
until Anaconda won our private wager and landed a 12 lb wahoo.....and
emailed us just to make sure we knew!
*The dark dark night at 1 am no moon stars bright enough to trace individual
tracks on the water.
*The full moon 12 days later almost bright enough to read by.
*The sheer exhilaration of swooping down 12 foot waves at night with main,
genoa and jib set doing 7-8 knots with braking waves round us...and then
doing it again and again and again...
*Going up the mast in rolly seas to check the rigging - this is not Ellen
MacArthur stuff, Caroline and Nicky pull me up with the electric winch, but
Intrepid is still rolling from 30 degrees left to 30 degrees right every 5
seconds when a wave passes underneath, and I am the fool at the end of a 50
foot pendulum from the mast head....
*Caroline's pizza joke, still thankfully untold
*Mastering black bean soup after 3 experimental versions....
*6pm sundowners with Christian or me as supreme bartender creating the most
unlikely cocktails - banana colada, pop corn with teriyaki sauce or ....
*4 people trying hard to work effectively as a team, having the
professionalism to get over the inevitable niggles that living and working
on a potentially dangerous rolling yacht entails.
So thats it, just add 3000 miles of sailing and you have it. This is just
about the longest uninterrupted ocean passage furthest from any land there
or that we are ever likely to do...we are literally 1500 miles from the
nearest organised help, and we are very much on our own. The radio net helps
a lot - we take comfort from other
accounts of sleepless nights as squalls hit the boats, or discuss ways round
calm patches 100's of miles wide, but in the end we are together alone. We
expect to arrive in the Marquesas (10S, 140W) in about 8 days time on April
Day or a little later ......appropriate I think...We celebrate 1000 miles to
go tonight, Chinese food I think and good red wine.
We really do appreciate your emails, wish you all a very happy and steady
Good Friday and Easter Holiday, with all best wishes from Intrepid at 2am on
Friday 24th March 2005
Andy Nicky Caroline and Christian, the crew of Intrepid of Dover.
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