Thursday, February 19, 2015

//WL2K Days 3....

and 4 and 5. So my daily updates aren't. Daily, I mean. Sometimes, the effort required to actually write an update is just too much work, and then there is the whole needing to actually getting a ssb connection....I have so many worries.

Firstly, the weather. It's been per usual, a bit of this, and a bit of that. Generally, we've had at least some wind to push us along, although up until today, it's not been from the right direction. Well, it's HAS sort of been correct, although combined with currents and swell, we were actually about 30 degrees off course, but the fantastic wind prediction program we use, and LOVE, PredictWind, was spot on with it's prediciton that either sometime today or tomorrow, we would have a wind shift. When I came up from taking a nap just now, we were on a 20 degree difference of course heading. Yay, for once, the little green line on our chartplotter has us actually heading to Easter Island rather than Pitcairn. This too was what null school showed, as a few days south of the Galapagos, the wind would shift from a southeasterly wind to one more directly from the east. Those of you that are'll appreciate that we've been pinching for days, trying to gain a degree or two anytime we could, but today for the first time, our apparant wind is 70 degrees off our port - perfect!

The squalls have settled down too - we were getting one or two a day, but yesterday for the first time, we just had a few clouds, but no rain.

The biggest news - we got showers today. The seas were such that we could safely throw some water on our various bits, and just like God, we rested (and washed) on the 7th day (actually, this is day 6, but didn't work with my little story). Once you become a sailor, things like a shower, or an ice cube, or a clean bra can make you giddy (or at least memorable enough to write about it).

The food situation has been about as expected. Day 3 I made up a pan of lasagne, which got an infusion of a some grated carrots of dubious usefulness (captain didn't complain). We ate around 4 in the cockpit, together for once, and I had a glass of red wine, and Ron had a beer to go along with our fine Italian repast. Several months ago, I had read of a technique to use lasagne noodles and layer them UNCOOKED in your pan. This, to me, was a revelation, as I'd always thought that lasagne was such a pain to make and made way too many dishes. Truly a "eureka" moment.

Today, the captain got a big bowl of biscuits and gravy, his favourite "county-boy" breakfast. Unfortunately, he got no side of bacon or sausage with that, just some leftover ham slices, that too, needed to be consumed before they got any slimier. Once thing that sailing does is beef up your immune system to cope with any amount of "less than perfect" produce. Take our bananas...they are a day away from the perfect consistency for bread, or the freezer.

We've seen no wildlife for days! A few birds always show up to fly alongside the rig in the night, but during the day...nuthin'. Except for the hairy man in my cockpit, there've been no beast sitings.

Position to date: 06 04'.195s, 097 21'.155w
Conditions: 1-2 foot swell
Wind: 11-17 knots
COG: 212 degrees
Speed: 3.5 knots
Weather: sunny, with gorgeous deep blue waters

Book reading continuing apace....

Monday, February 16, 2015

//WL2K Day 2

The greatest news to report is that we have finally dialed in our Monitor Windvane, and can say, with the utmost confidence, that this was a fantastic purchase. We had heard over and over again from other happy customers that most people were ecstatic with having a windvane aboard, as a reliable, uncomplaining extra crew member. We are now in this exalted group of folks - "Monty" has been quietly working for the last 24 hours, with nary a helping hand from us. Our autopilot has been put on standbye, along with all the power that it takes to run. I believe I can say that the windvane ranks right up there with a vhf and ssb, a watermaker, and a freezer, as things a long term cruiser should have on their boats.

The worst news is that after 48 hours into it, we've only made 140 miles. Must stop looking at the ground log - a girlfriend that has made it to NZ (we met in Panama) told me that the best thing to do is not look at the amount of distance still to go, but it sure is hard.

A few brief squalls, a bit of sunshine, winds ranging from 8 knots to 28.5 knots. So it was a mixed bag of conditions.

I'm not one of those cruising galley wenches that makes meals ahead of time. I just don't have that much freezer space to put complete meals in there, so I tend to make food as we need it. The first couple of days on a passage, we never seem to need too much and this trip has been no exception. Yesterday, I finally made hashsbrowns, with bell peppers, onions, melted cheese, fresh tomatoes and a fried egg on top. That was it for food, and if I make it midday, it holds over so that it means only one meal cooked per day.
I'm thinking some sort of pasta today - maybe with fresh tomatoes (now, if I only still had a basil plant on board). Of course, the one thing I have to always watch on these trips is the fresh stuff, as what is out of the fridge has a tendency to go rather quickly. Our mini-bunch of bananas has begun to ripen - yikes, so soon?! 2 yesterday, and it'll be two for each of us today. But I have a very first job when I was a teenager was in a health food restaurant, and smoothies were our specialty. I was a trendsetter, as this was "back in the day", mid-70s, before health food was really a thing. Anyway, instead of ice to thicken them, we used cut up frozen bananas. Which is the fate of the bunch I have currently hanging in the aft bathroom, if we get sick of them before they are all gone. We've had our fair share of banana bread over the last few months, so another strategy is needed. In my reserves, I bought a Nutella knockoff - in the next few months when bananas will be the only fruit we can get, I envision crepes, with a heap of Nutella, and cutup bananas over top, or perhaps a low rent version of bananas foster. Will see if I can steal a bit of Ron's rum, and without burning the boat down, set is aflame and have that foster flambe'd.

The sun has broken through the clouds first thing this morning, currently it's 8am. Ron is asleep and I'm on watch. Was finally tired enough last night to sleep when I went down below - again, takes a few days to get into a good rythum, rythem, rythm (how the hell do you spell this word?)

Position: 02 58'.745s, 093 09'.699w at 8am, February 16th, 2015
Heading: 210 degrees
COG: 232 degrees
Conditions: 3-5 foot swells, sunny skies
Wind: 10-15knots
Speed: 4 knots
Miles: 140

No problems on board - yay!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

//WL2K Galapagos to Easter Island - Day 1 recap

We left the Galapagos Islands with the speed of their namesakes - a lumbering tortoise-like 3 knots, but is there a better way to ease into a long, interminably long passage? If we get an average of 100nm per day, we should be making the passage in 20 days. Unfortunately....

24 hours has come and go and we are already behind schedule - haha. As all true sailors know, the only time you want to have a schedule is when you are desperate for something to go wrong. Schedules mean bad decisions. Schedules mean making plans prior to consulting with Mother Nature. Schedules are not a sailor's friend. So we go with the flow...except when the boat speed drops to 1 knot. Then we look at alternatives.

The first 24 hours has come and gone, and we are settling into "the life". A brief synopsis:

Hour 1 - Motoring out to find the wind
Hour 2- Found a bit of wind. Sails up, and clocking 4knots
Hour 3 - Wind died
Hour 4 - Engine on, hopefully not for long
Hour 7 - Engine off, sails out
Hour 14 - Squall hits, scramble for side panels for the cockpit - MUST KEEP COCKPIT CUSHIONS DRY
Hour 15 - Squall passes, drying out process (I was too slow)
Hour 20 - Wind died, motor on
Hour 21 - Wind back up!!!!

Which brings us to now, Hour 26, blazing along at a respectable 5.5 knots, with 12-16 knots of wind. But the best news is our heading is directly to our destination, despite a pesky 2 knot side current which threatens to deposit us to the Marquesas instead of south to Easter Island.

A sobering conversation predeparture....."Just think cap'n, can you believe we'll be traveling at sea for 20+ days?" Captain replies, "and just think, that'll then put us smack dab in the middle of nowhere. We'll then get to travel for another 10-20 days to get somewhere else"

Upon leaving the islands behind, we were witness to a tremendous manta ray belly flop display. I think that'll probably be it for sea life, except for the occasional bird.

No problems to report (for once). Yay!!!!

12 noon, February 15, 2015
Position: 02 02'0485s, 092 15'.715w
Heading: 190 degrees
Wind: 11-16 knots
Boat Speed: 5.5
Ground Log: 97.49nm
Conditions: overcast, and grey. 3-5 foot swells

Saturday, February 7, 2015

See Spot Run, See Heather Come Unhinged

When you travel, you realize that not everyone thinks the same way that you do (frankly, I hardly feel like anyone thinks the way that I do, but that’s for another introspective posting).  There are regional, municipal and certainly country-wide differences.  We all know that the Germans like things to be “just so”.  And if I could categorize and generalize a bit, the Dutch and Belgian folk seem to fall into this group too.  Those Danish and Scotsmen….well, they are “thrifty”, to use a politically acceptable word.  You head further south where the weather is warmer, and you’ve got those freewheeling Greeks and Spaniards.  Their weather allows them a bit of leeway, where if the job doesn’t get complete today, there is always tomorrow.  And then there is the middle east…..where being a woman, I don’t get to tell you what I think. 
We are here in Latin America.  I’m not really sure when it becomes Latin, and when it’s just South America, or Central America, but for now I’ll just call it Latin America to encompass the entire region from the US/Mexico border to the tip of Cape Horn.  And as you all know, we’re coming up on 4 ½ years being in this neck of the woods.  I must be a slow learner, or adapter, but I CANNOT SHED MY NEED FOR LOGIC, AND FOR COMPLETING TASKS IN A TIMELY MATTER WITHOUT A BUNCH OF BULLSHIT THROWN IN.   I have tried, truly I have.  Perhaps I started off with more than my fair share, but honest to god getting things done here boggles the mind.  

Yes, I am aware that everyone comes to each task with a different set of experiences behind them and driving their actions.  Yes, I know that sometimes I just want things done when, and how, I want them done, because, forgive me if I am in error here, but am I not forking over money to get something accomplished?  A man I worked with in Zambia used to get so pissed off when people would explain away ineptitude by exclaiming…”ah, but it is Africa.”  As if that is somehow an excuse.  I get it now.  

We just wanted a tank of propane filled.  The ENTIRE world uses propane to cook their meals, and heat their water.  We wanted to be able to do that too, but due to a slight bit of underfilling at our last stop, (let’s just call it thievery, shall we?!) one of our tanks had come up dry after only 6 weeks of use, where we normally could go for 2-3 months.  Now here on the most remote island in the Galapagos, and with a grounded tanker several islands to our east, we were coming up with a few shrugged shoulders and it looked like it was going to turn into a mammoth task.  I will not bore you with the blow by blow details, but suffice it to say that it took a monumental effort for me to keep from strangling a few unsuspecting Ecuadorians.  Ah, you say, but she isn’t on a schedule.  She really doesn’t need it to be done “right now”.  My reply is, “you’re damn right I’m on a schedule.  I’m on a life schedule and the clock is ticking, and the time I have left will NOT be spent getting the bullshit runaround!!!”  I’ve written about how difficult it is to get an egg on board, well multiply that exponentially by at least 1 million, and getting a 20 pound propane tank filled is harder. 

We got it done.  


I have less hair.
The ulcer that I’ve been working hard at eradicating after the last 10 years of my so-called life while still in Canada….yes, I can feel it growing again.  

Rant done.  

Until the next time.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Thar she blows (volcanoes, not whales)

A few days ago, we hiked another two volcanos to add to our growing list of peaks bagged.  Izalco in El Salvador with my sister, Pacaya in Guatemala with my entire family, (we think there have been one or two more but I've only had one cup of coffee so far this morning, and can't remember) and now Volcan Sierra Negra and Volcan Chico.  It was a 16 km. walk, and while it wasn't THAT long, our legs did feel it by the end.

If I add a picture, it means we did it
Meeting a great group of folks, 3 couples traveling together from Homer, Alaska, we started off on a beautiful calm morning around 8am.  The lack of clouds were what we were aiming for, as the altitude could make for enshrouded vistas, which we didn't want.  Four kilometers later, we were at the rim.

The crater is 10 kilometers across, and holds the title of being the second largest in the world, right behind Ngorogoro Crater in Tanzania.

We walked to the spot where the secondary volcano started to form, and then down the other side to Chico.

Very desolate but terribly interesting

Along the way, we got to know our walking companions and all of them were as interesting as the landscape, with one couple spending their winters traveling overland on the African continent in a retrofitted Range Rover Defender, another couple involved in Alaska's newest industry, growing peonies for the cut flower market, and all involved in one way or another in the fishing and marine research industry.  They spoke so highly of Homer that we might just give it a look for the future.

Unfortunately, it didn't sound as though they had had as amazing of a time here in the Galapagos as we have, and it just goes to show that not all traveling experiences are viewed in the same way.  What a lot of people don't have when they travel is time.  Time to research what experiences will be the most satisfying, time to discover what you are hoping to get out of each destination, and often, just the time to allow a destination to wash over you in silence, rather than in experiences.  Traveling sailors are lucky, or at least we know we are.  Aside from weather and visa issues, we have the luxury of being able to decide when and where to stay, and for how long.  We can get out of each destination what we wish to.  Ron and I have decided that given the size of the world, and where we still want to go, each destination we come to needs to be explored as if we are never going to return.  We therefor allow ourselves the time to come to know each stop as intimately as we can be as travelers and not residents. 

And with all this soul searching, we hardly noticed our aching knees when we got back to the bottom of the hill.  Ron, pass me another Advil.