April 26, 2010

Day 18: a semi typical day on board

position: 5*18' S, 134*22' W
24 hour run: 193 nautical miles (hoooo yeah)
Distance traveled since departing Mexico: lots
Distance to go to Hiva Oa: 375

The radio problems throw a lurch into our days. We can hear, but we cannot effectively transmit, and so we cannot request or receive weather reports or update our position. It has probably helped us focus even more closely on the radio nets we can hear: noting the position and weather of other reporting boats, and thinking about what that means for us and the weather we may experience next. It's a far cry from a grib file but s close as we can get.

Otherwise, today has been like any other day- that is to say it is unstructured, but has a rhythm. I have the watch that bridges dawn, and love the quiet time where see the stars fade into warm yellow clouds. Ty usually comes up earlier than his 6am start, and I get ready to scribe details from the net. Jamie is up to listen in on the radio by the time the net starts at 7. Breakfast is around 8; today, hash browns with sausage and eggs. The children are up in staggered sets... last night, the motion of the boat sent Siobhan back to the aft cabin with me. With the added heel, she and Mairen otherwise become piled like puppies at one end of the forepeak.

When the radio net and breakfast end, Ty and Jamie are typically in the cockpit while I spend time below with the kids. Today, I read aloud from a book we're learning from about the history of navigation. Other days, it's been chapters of 'Stowaway', a great kids' book about a stowaway on one of Captain Cook's vessels or helping the girls with their readers while Niall dives into another book on his own. Later in the morning, an elaborate diorama of paper sea creatures was arranged on the starboard settee. Mermaids, whales, sea horses, squid, dolphins, eels and more are drawn, cut, colored, and then arranged by the girls to tell a story. We broke out the camera so they could create the sequence and play it back later.

At midday, we usually have sandwiches or a salad for lunch. If there aren't any clouds, the sextant often comes out for a noon sight. In the afternoon, Jamie, Ty and I take turns napping- making up for gaps in our sleep from the nighttime watch schedule (which shuffled a little but mostly settled at 9pm-12am, Ty; 12-3, Jamie; 3-6, me). One of them, or occasionally me, is always in the cockpit. If the movement of the boat is settled enough, games come out: everything from Candyland to chess, dominoes, cards, or puzzles. On this day, we're tossed too much for any small pieces and so the kids are coloring at the table, with boxes holding markers and pencils wedged on the settee next to them. At some point, the journals are broken out and they do their entries- I do mine as well. On settled days, this is the perfect time to sit on the rail in the shadow of the genoa with a good book. I spent hours watching jellyfish and man-of-wars drift by us in the doldrums from this perch.

Our battery bank, while not completely topped up, is doing well and we're bringing in a lot of power with all the sun and wind to feeding through the solar panels and wind generator. There's enough to run the watermaker and maintain net positive amps into the bank, so we run it for a few hours to keep our tanks comfortably full.

Later in the afternoon, we mark our daily 24 hour run. We've tracked it daily at 0:00 UTC, which coincides with 4pm for our current time zone. After looking at our progress and route, I usually put down notes for a blog post. When we could still connect our radio, the late afternoon and early evening were good times for propagation for a successful link, and I like to have it ready between the SSB net (0200 zulu, or 6pm local time) and the Pacific Seafarer's net (roll starting around 0325 zulu, or 7:25pm local time). The children are helping mark our progress on a paper chart as well.

I'm feeling a little tired, so Jamie cooks up a dinner of sautéed cabbage and shredded beef with lavender. While he's cooking, the SSB radio net is starting and once again I'm checking all the boats who report in with their position and weather. There are a number of boats who will be making landfall within a few days of us, so there's additional chatter after the roll call on the net as the boats underway quiz Eric (s/v Secret Agent Man) on everything from lights in the harbor for an evening approach to the process for signing into the country with officials. Later, I switch frequencies for the Pacific Seafarer's Net. It is astounding to me but Randy, the net control in Hawaii, can actually still pick us up. Our signal is very, very weak- the best we can do is answer "ROGER ROGER ROGER" to affirmatively respond and confirm with him that all is well on board. We believe we are essentially operating without an antenna, and are amazed that he is able to direct his antennae from about 2,000 miles away to pick us up at all. It is like a lifeline, and feels so important to know that we can be noted on their roll call as OK...just hampered by a radio problem.

After dinner, Ty and Jamie get some rest before their watches start. With the power looking good, tonight is a special treat: the children get to watch a movie together in the aft cabin, our laptop movie screen balanced on Niall's lap as they lean into pillows. They finish as Ty comes on watch, so I can tuck them in and read the girls a story before retiring with a book of my own.

1 comment:

  1. I too love the dawn watch. Sunrise it so optimistic and uplisting and magical out on watch on the sea. Thank you for sharing your day, we're so enjoying these posts.

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