Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Enroute to Ecuador - Day 8

8am Position: 00 46.90N 81 48.60W
Progress in the last 24 hours: 52.1 nautical miles
Miles to Go: 115
Fuel left: Approx 20 gallons

We continue to make slow but steady progress towards Bahia de Caraquez. We have been in email contact with Tripp Martin at Puerto Amistad, and he is expecting us, and ready to arrange the 'bar pilot' we need to come in the Rio Chone.

It looks like now we won't arrive until late Tuesday (at our current speed of 3.5 knots motoring, that's what the GPS is saying). Since we've been averaging only 2.5 knots with our sail/motorsail arrangement, we'll target the Weds am high tide at about 10am.

Yesterday was an eventful day, for a zero-wind day. First, at just before dawn, still 180 miles offshore, we saw our first shipping contact in days. It was a single white light, and not really moving. When we finally got close enough, and the sun came up, we could see a large 'lancha' with a few guys and a pole with lights on it, sitting at the end of a net or longline (we could see the end of net marker, a black flag on it). We also saw a larger vessel rendezvous with this lancha for a few minutes.
Not sure what went back and forth, but both boats waved at us as we went by.

A couple of hours later, we approached another similar lancha (or maybe the same one..?), they were coming at us slowly and a guy was standing up pointing south. It was obvious they were trying to tell us something. (Dave got out the 'Bear Spray' and the Tazer, just in case). When we got close enough, they shouted 'Sur' (South) and made a 'follow us' motion. So we turned on the motor, rolled in the sail, and turned about 45 degrees right and slowly followed them. They must have wondered why
the heck this big fancy gringo sailboat was only going 3 knots!!!

They eventually led us about a half a mile, around the end of their net, marked by another black flag. This was 175 miles out at sea, in very very deep water. And they are 4 guys in an open lancha with no cover, and an outboard motor for power. I wonder if they have a GPS? VHF radio?? Brave men! Undoubtedly desperate to support their families.

Soon after that, I was napping below and heard Dave yell "Sherry, I need you now." The brand new 1/2" halyard on our Code Zero had chafed thru, and the sail was dragging in the water. Fortunately, "shrimping" (recovering a dragging sail) is not very hard when you're only going 2 knots and the sea is flat calm. We got it back aboard easily, and by late morning, had hauled Dave up the mast to re-run the halyard. We will have to watch for chafe very closely and try to figure out exactly where the
chafe point is. Dave had run the halyard over the spinnaker block and into the mast, and I suspect that's our chafe point. This time, the halyard is run outside the mast.

About the time we got the Code Zero back up, the wind died to nothing. Absolutely no wind, dead flat glassy calm. Zip, zilch, nada. Not a ripple on the water as far as the eye can see. So of course, the motor went back on (still only around 1100 RPM). We continued motoring with no wind until around 4:15pm when a slight breeze came up. Still fighting about a half a knot of current, so only making about 2.5 knots motoring at that speed.

During the calm, we were visited by a lively pod of porpoises. Several times a couple of them jumped 6' out of the water and did flips. Very cool. I stood on the bow with the camera and got several good (I hope) shots of one particular fellow who liked hanging out just ahead of the bow. But I missed the aerial acrobatics with the camera.

We continued to work on 'projects'... Dave working on the Workshop section of the website and Sherry hauled out the sewing machine to do a long-awaited repair on the mainsail cover.

Once the wind came up (to about 5-6 knots), it was one of the most beautiful evenings we have had at sea... a slight but steady wind, the motor's off and we're sailing along at about 2-3 knots. The sunset was gorgeous--we saw a 'green flash'. Sherry made 'Seared Tuna' from the last of the tuna Dave caught on our way to Cocos. This was our 4th try to imitate the 'seared tuna' you get in a good Japanese restaurant, and we finally got it perfect. great marinade from our Keys Cooking cookbook and
finally not cooked too much.

And we had enough wind to continue under sail all night.

The crew got lots of rest last night. We've been doing 3 hour watches during the night. That gives each of 2 3-our watches, providing about 5 hrs (total) good solid sleep, plus catnaps during our watches, and a nap if needed in the middle of the day. On easy nights (stable conditions, little ship traffic), we can manage to sleep in the cockpit 15 minutes at a time while we are on watch. Dave sleeps with a kitchen timer sitting on his chest. Sherry uses her Timex watch with a countdown timer.

At one point during my watch, we were visited by porpoises again. I could hear them surface alongside with a 'phoosh', and saw a couple of them streak away, leaving a trail of phosphorescence in their wake. Really cool (or 'awesome' for you younger folks).

So, though it is frustrating to be going so slow, and a little worrisome not having enough fuel to just motor in if the wind dies completely, and we're still not sure what the current will do to us... We ARE enjoying ourselves out here. It could be A LOT worse.
At 2/16/2009 3:06 PM (utc) our position was 00°42.81'N 081°42.78'W

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