Wednesday August 8: 5:48 am: Lee
It’s been a while since last blog…..at least I think it has. I guess this must be mid-passage malaise, out of touch, out of sync, shut down to all but the most prominent physical components. I have vague memories of mexican dinner , a halfway gathering, a series of sound off-watch sleeps, a long off-watch non-sleep in my berth while the boat bucked upwind like a fourwheeler on rutted road, fluky winds, consistent winds, driving well, driving badly, various shapes o f the moon, a ship on the horizon that turned out to be just a rising star………..& some other stuff…….I guess. Consistent in my memories eye are red head lamps in the dark, putting on gear in the dark, bracing myself in the dark, greeting the off watch in the dark as they clamber into the cockpit, dry cheerios, an apple with peanut butter on it, a Clif Bar or two…..maybe some granola.
We’ve been heading north for an interminable time & though for good reason, enough already…..that turn to Cape Flattery still seems like a distant occasion. I suspect that we all are anxious for that event, subtle turn though it is, where the tip, just the tip, of the boat is inside a new direction, a direction that feels more like the way back…..back to land, back to loved ones, back to a surface that doesn’t move out from under you, where sleep is regular, the status of a battery bank is not important & your closet has lots of choices.
from a dimly lit place,
somewhere off northern California,
7:45a 41.37.105N/143.32.995W 7.0 TWS 290 TWD Pressure: 1024.5
Kelsey: We’re on the 6a to noon watch (again) and I’m eating a tasty bowl of oatmeal at the nav station. When we arrived in the cockpit this morning, Harold/Lee/Aaron pointed to a light quickly moving out of view behind us — our first vessel sighting for days. Pretty exciting! (As others have noted, it doesn’t take much out here.) We are within 900 miles of Cape Flattery now (as the crow flies) and seeing the ship makes it seem like we’re getting closer.
Wednesday, August 8, 10:40: Brian
4153.09N 14322.04W TWD: 269 TWS: 4 Bar: 1025.1
Motor-sailing. The breeze crapped out this morning, as predicted, so we’re motor-sailing north in relatively calm conditions. While Harold’s watch is in the rack, Kelsey, Joe and I have taken advantage of the flat water and light winds to do chores. We’ve spent much of the last few days on our ear with the boat heeling over and bouncing enthusiastically. Under those conditions, it’s harder to take care of the necessities much less the desirables. After all, when was the last time you went into the bathroom thinking, “I hope I can get in and out of here without injury”? Anyway … while the off watch boys slept and we took our turns at the helm, Kelsey pumped the excess water out of the bilge, Joe cleaned the head, I cleaned the galley. The boat is now spick and span. Harold’s up now, and so excited about all this cleanliness that he’s decided to take a bucket bath on the transom. He’s even promised to shave, although what he intends to shave is as yet undisclosed. I’ll keep you posted … or perhaps not.
We are tired beat and beat up. We have bruises cuts and scrapes, rashes sores and sprains. We are over half way and still almost 1000 miles from home. Because we have no auto helm one of us has been on the helm every minute 24 hrs a day. Each of us is in the cockpit on watch 12 hrs each day and driving 4 hrs a day. At the helm you are exposed to the full force of the wind sun rain and salt spray from the waves breaking over the bow. These next few days will tell us who we are and who are shipmates are. These begin the bonding days . The last couple of days before we make cape Flattery will seal the deal. These are typically very trying days. Big seas and strong winds. Once you have made a major crossing like this you become a member of an elite group of sailors and the ones you sailed with will always hold a special place for you. I always cry when I finally make land and this time will be no exception.
Peace and Love Harold
Wednesday, August 8: 4:19 pm: Lee
Much as most of us probably hate to admit it, there’s a welcome relief to a spell of motoring through a calm…..especially after pounding through a thrash. It means reduced anxiety, reduced discomfort, better sleep, predictable movement & a general sense that world makes sense again & that your place in it isn’t quite so tenuous.
It also means a chance to clean up, person & boat & to catch up, mostly boat. Fueled by the collective energy restored by not having to hold onto something every moment, we’ve spent the morning & early afternoon doing boat stuff…..refilling the fuel tank from five gallon jerry cans stored in the stern & completely rerunning the genoa furler with new line. This was an extended version of our previous fix entailing unrolling the genoa, dropping it on deck, unspooling the furling line from the drum, resplicing a new line, rewinding the new line onto the drum in the opposite direction to provide a chafe free lead, putting the genoa back up & refurling it…….of course followed by unfurling it & refurling it just to make sure we hadn’t screwed up all up somewhere in the process. These tasks & others were in preparation for our last couple of days at sea & entry into the Straits where we’re expecting high winds & none of these necessary tasks would have been as easy or as safe.
The activity is buoyant & collaborative which also helps pull us out of our personal solo-funks & makes us feel like a crew again, working for a common purpose. The off watch heads for what I hope is a peaceful & deep sleep, while our watch autopilots the boat through the lazy swells, still heading north to our mercurial rendezvous point with an easterly turn.
from a peaceful boat at sea,
20:24 PDT: Brian
4256.53N 14240W TWD: 244 TWS: 9 Bar: 1026.0
What a productive day. The boat is cleaner, the crew is cleaner (though the jokes are as raunchy as ever); we’ve re-run, re-rigged, re-fueled, re-furled … We were all set to put a chicken casserole in the oven when I hear Joe shout: “Harold, Fish On!” As the chaos of fishing (reeling in, boating, killing, filleting) swept through the cockpit, Aaron and I agreed that Tuna be damned, we were having chicken Marsala. Several Albatross circling our stern enjoyed the rest of the fish.
With fresh Tuna fillets in the ice box, we all dined together in the cockpit. Kelsey calls the 1st course, French Picnic–a hodge-podge of meats, cheeses, carrots, peppers, and crackers. Merde!, we forgot the cornichon! Course 2: Chicken Marsala. We even had dessert–Key Lime tarts. I’d sneaked them on the boat and hidden them in the bottom of the refrigerator for Kelsey’s birthday, but on the big day, most of us weren’t all that keen on eating. Now, a week later, they were mighty fine. Cool, tart, refreshing. Dishes done, motor-sailing north to what promises to be more wind and some fast, down-wind sailing, Harold, Aaron and Lee are catching a few winks while Kelsey, Joe and I finish our watch.
43.04.604N/142.37.096W TWD: 240 TWS: 7 Bar: 1026.3
Oh my goodness…MORE fish! Tuna, tuna, tuna, tuna, tuna. Joe promises that he will make us a tuna dinner tomorrow that won’t leave anyone thinking they are sick of fish. I’m looking forward to taking the challenge. I have to admit, the whole process of dragging the fish in, killing and filleting it — well, it doesn’t really appeal to me. Still, they can be pretty darn tasty. (Julie, please do NOT have mahi ice cream waiting for us at the dock! 🙂
The best part of FISH ON today was the group of six circling albatross who came in for the scraps. After seeing the albatross doing their mating dance in the Galapagos last July, I’ve loved these birds. Now, I get to see them at sea, where they spend most of their time. The wing span is massive and they dip the tips of their wings into the water as they bank between the waves. It looks like they are tickling the water. Every time they come to fly near us, it makes me smile.
And we saw yet another ship today. This one was heading south and was on the horizon. Makes me feel like we’re getting closer to home. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone.
The entire crew says THANK YOU to Autumn for keeping these blog posts coming and going. It really is a highlight to receive them and we’re glad you’re out there reading them. (Steph: Even though Aaron doesn’t blog much, he is getting your messages and every time I tell him there is a message from you, his face totally lights up. I’m going to send this now before he reads this and gets embarrassed.)