Tales from the Pacific Day 15

Phew! What a night! The gennie was furled a bit,then a bit more as the wind rose. All around though not over head banks of cloud lit from within by sheet lightening. As a precaution a motley collection of phones, an ipad and a handheld GPS were placed in the oven; the theory is it acts as a Faraday cage in the eventuality of a lightening strike, no idea if it would really work but I know that putting a misbehaving EPIRB in a biscuit tin does!

This morning it was overcast grey, cool and windy so after breakfast Temptress crew put the main up to capitalise on the conditions and make better progress in the right direction. Someone somewhere hit a switch within minutes. From the galley sink I could hear the skipper cursing none too politely the Pacific Ocean in general and the winds in particular. I stuck my head up the hatch to confirm what I’d already felt; the sails were flapping, Temptress was swilling around in messy seas once again. Bother!

The lull however was a temporary one; thick ominous looking cloud to ‘leeward’, an uncertain term in the conditions we were in but used here relative to the wind we had had until a few minutes earlier, was moving our way bringing heavy rain. The lull had been the switch over in wind direction heralding the arrival of a cold front. It was soon gusting F8 from the NW! We tacked and we off heading south once again. All morning it rained and boy did it rain. Thunder claps too but no lightening to be seen. Lunch was eaten by a crew huddled together on the bridge deck under the sprayhood. Then slowly the sky began to brighten, the rain eased and the wind dropped to a mere whisper and backed enabling us to tack onto a more reasonable course – 260.

The rest of the day looked like a grey day off the south coast of England but the decks soon dried and despite the ups and downs we managed to cover 122nm in the period to noon. Only 26nm to go until we dip below 2000nm to Hiva Oa and Temptress is finally on a heading that will improve progress in the direction even if it is at a slow 3 knots over the ground.

Was amused by the subtlety of a sentence in the Pacific Crossing Guide visa vi the weather; “Once clear of the Galapagos and heading into the southern hemisphere, the trade winds begin to establish themselves and MAY [my emphasis] hold throughout the passage of more than 3000nm to the Marquesas”. It then goes on to explain that if this is the case “then sailing conditions really do live up to the original dream and can be superb in steady SE winds and clear blue skies dotted with the odd patch or two of cumulus” Hmph! Not in our part of the planet here at 05 45S 104 57W its more the odd patch of blue in a sky of cumulus, stratos, cirrus, in fact almost any cloud formation you can think of.

Today’s events of note were the sudden stopping of the boat log after we’d slammed off a wave. The skipper removed the log paddle wheel and discovered it was full of jelly like stuff- presumably one jellyfish was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Soon cleaned up with a toothbrush and back working within ten minutes but it did make us scratch our heads a bit trying to fathom what had happened.

The second was the engine not starting when at dusk. Still no idea why. Adding the domestic batteries into the equation it sprang to life straight away. The monitors show no problem with the engines dedicated battery but with the cloud of late there has been little or no solar charging.

I’ll conclude today’s scribblings with a verse from A H Clough that about sums up our current state;

“Where lies the land to which the ship would go?
Far, far ahead, is all her seamen know.
And where the land she travels from? Away,
Far,far behind,is all that they can say.”

Noon to noon: through the water 92nm over the ground 122nm Noon position: 05 36.32S 104 52.07W