Totem has been heading west for five days now. So far it’s been a beautiful passage: more gentle breezes than squalls, more pretty sunsets than gray skies.
I make a last run to shore, to mail a few postcards, try to visit a few people we met, and grab a last hour of wifi from the hotel before our weeks at sea. The RMS St Helena was in port during the weekend and fresh produce (well, fresh when it left Cape Town, at least a week and a half ago) should be on the shelves. Score! We have $3 avocadoes, some tomatoes, and apples. Back on Totem, Jamie is trying to coax our portable generator to work. It’s not cooperating. Once he decides to call it unrepairable for now, he’s itching to raise the anchor and get going. We finally take off a little after 1pm. Some sendoffs are auspicious, like the dozens of dolphins that play in our bow wake as Ascension fades in the distance. Others aren’t, like the accidental inflation of my PFD when pulling it out from a locker for night watch. At least it doesn’t leak.
We’ve been checking in with a friend on the radio a couple of times a day; a few other boats caught on and suddenly there’s a net schedule with eight other vessels happening. It’s good to keep tabs on fellow travelers in the big blue, so we move social chatting to a new time and run with the sked, something we haven’t done for months. It’s interesting to see how weather and performance vary across our roughly 1,000nm range. We have better conditions than most, and Totem moves nicely with the asymmetric poled out putting away 8 knots for much of the day. At nighttime we revert to slower, but more stable wing/wing configuration.
Watch for me begins a few hours before sunrise, and this morning I share it with a petrel who departs with the dawn. Before the sun rises, the last day of the waning moon- a thin golden sliver- rises with the bright light of Venus. Thanks to the tip from an astronomer we have a chance to see this unusual occlusion…but clouds thwart the event! It’s still spectacular to see these two heavenly bodies in proximity, in the warm light of daybreak. Later we have perfect conditions for the asymmetric, 12-15 knots right behind the boat. Seas are mellow, making it very comfortable for all – even our little hamster, Jiaozi, is let out for some runaround time. If passages were all like this, there would be a LOT more cruisers! At night, we become a bird sanctuary again, but this time there are at least half a dozen. They look like petrels, relatively small seabirds, so at least there’s not too much poop left behind on the solar panels.
Something always breaks on a passage, and hopefully the shattered shield on a block for the asymmetric is our token fail. It’s minor and makes me feel like we’ve gotten a bit of drama out of the way and can carry on. In the afternoon, we’re hailed over VHF by a 298 meter tanker, 9 miles away and on course to pass within ¼ mile. He asks if we’d like him to alter course to provide a little more room, for which we are grateful! But in the distraction of the conversation, the watermaker- which was backflushing- isn’t correctly shut down, and some saltwater gets into the tank. OK, two strikes for today.
Our bird haven had graduated to hold NINE petrels this morning. It’s funny to hear them squawk at each other, but we miss out on ours of wind turbine charging, not wanting to tempt fate with the spinning blades so close to their refuge on the solar panel. The wind is dying, and we watch the highly dynamic ITCZ with a close eye. It’s narrowing in the days ahead, but is forecast to expand up to 12 degrees wide soon after. Is it better to leap now, pointing north to get across it, or do we risk getting caught at the top of this zone of doldrums and squalls and facing more day of motoring until the trades? For now, though, we get a few more hours of beautiful conditions, and the smooth seas and an easy motion on board make it a lot easier to cook! Imagine chopping onions on a counter that keeps leaning back and forth. I don’t like resorting to canned or prepared food. Thankfully, that’s not happening.
- On your own breakfast
- Onion/pepper quesadillas
- braised chicken and bell peppers in a creamy sauce; mashed potatoes; homemade bread; chocolate cake (yay for passage kickoff!)
- toast and eggs
- greek salad and hard boiled eggs
- pork steaks, gravy, rice, braised apples and cabbage, bread, cake
- dragon fruit smoothies & toast
- cous cous tabbouleh
- pulled pork and gravy on polenta, gingerbread cake
- pull-apart cinnamon bread (a.k.a., Monkey bread)
- rice salad with oranges, ginger, cranberries
- chicken & barley stew, fresh seedy bread
- chicken wraps with corn relish
- pasta & pesto
This post is sent through our Iridium GO from somewhere in the Atlantic. Where exactly? Find out here. We love reading comments underway, but won’t be able to respond on the blog until we reach “normal” internet in the Caribbean. Thanks for the notes, they make our day!