Marcy's leg north from Chile to Hawaii was a typical passage, but a long one at 6500 nautical miles. Preparations in Chile included flushing the outboard motor with fresh water and storing it down below.
We bought and stored two months of provisions, topped off fuel and water tanks, and rigged the jacklines.
Our special buy was a box of 180 delicious high quality eggs, beautifully packaged for easy turning and never refrigerated. These eggs easily lasted the six weeks to Hawaii, and we ate 170 of them. Eggs that have not been refrigerated last much longer at sea. We wish such eggs would be available in other countries!
Another good buy was a big chunk of the delicious unpasteurized country cheese that is popular in Chiloe.
As we worked on Marcy, the huge tide came and went. We made a mental note to carefully consult the tide table to time our departure.
Indeed, when we entered the narrows on the way to the ocean, barely past the turn of the tide, the ebb had already built to ten knots. Apparently slack water only lasts five or ten minutes here!
Safely past the narrows, we dropped the hook at a bay just at the ocean to wait for wind and tide to head out to sea. The next day, a familiar boat, the Vlakvark (we had both been working on bottom paint at the same time hauled out in Pto. Montt) joined us at anchor. We had considered our plan of a direct passage to Hawaii was bold, but Vlakvark is headed to Victoria BC in one hop!
After a day, weather and tide cooperated, so we pulled up short on the anchor rode and gave a courtesy call to the lighthouse informing them of our departure. Permission denied! The forecast was for 20 knots with possible squalls, perfect for us of course, but apparently considered too brisk for the Armada. The actual wind was a pleasant 15 knots. So we waited. After waiting all day, permission was finally given. The tide was no longer favorable, but we felt we should depart while departing was allowed – fearing that we would be trapped . This was probably most unseamanlike and dangerous decision we've made for years – as we headed out on the full ebb we were thrashed thoroughly by steep waves as the current met the ocean swell. We were lucky there was no damage. A big mistake, and we should have known better. And it underscores one of the major challenges of cruising Argentina and Chile – a sailboat can be trapped in port when the conditions are ideal for the sailor (i.e. wind!) and only released when conditions are not good. The port captains mean well but they do not understand the capabilities of ocean cruising sailboats.
We breathed a sigh of relief as we cleared the washing machine, and the familiar routine of a passage was established. A small rip, not entirely unexpected, appeared in our old jib. Being of composite construction it could not be repaired by sewing.
We kept our usual good lookout for shipping. We spotted this big tanker on our first day out, and had a nice chat with the captain. He graciously altered course to spare us the work of jibing.
Ginger got used to cooking at an angle again.
Peter got used to fixing broken stuff again.
Soon we were solidly in the tradewinds and enjoying great daily runs as Marcy sailed herself without much attention from us. We basked in the sun and relaxed.
We set the trolling line.
We worked on deck setting and dousing sails and a daily rig inspection.
Setting the spinnaker pole is always a careful balancing operation
As we made our way north, the weather warmed up. Flying fish appeared on deck. The rip in the jib grew.
We always had seabirds to keep us company. The birds rest on the water in light wind and take to the air when the wind is brisk.
Our towing generator also needs attention as the breeze waxes and wanes. If it is too windy we need to bring it in, otherwise the propeller skips out of the water and snarls the line.
One evening we snagged a drifting section of fishnet. Peter was skeptical at Ginger's suggestion that we trawl for tuna with it.
We settled into the pleasant passage routine, watches four hours on and four hours off, punctuated by the radio net at 0330 zulu. Our Pactor modem failed early, knocking out email capability, so the net was our only contact with the outside word. Ginger, the voice of Marcy, takes a rest before checking in.
Ginger also chatted with Vlaakvark daily. Somehow we remained within 100 miles of each other as we approached the equator even after weeks of sailing. We were well matched in speed and our tactics were similar.
A small ceremony was held at the line crossing. Ginger gave Neptune his dram of spirits.
Shortly after crossing the equator, we approached the outbound track we had made on the passage from Mexico to the Marquesas three years before. Ginger had marked that track on the chartplotter with little blue flags, and when we crossed that line we celebrated completing a circumnavigation. Always the accountant, Ginger noted that we had circled the globe in three years and 29 days. In the process we had sailed over 45,000 nautical miles. We celebrated again with a bit of port and a bite of chocolate.
That evening at radio time we found ourselves quite close to Vlakvark, and agreed to try to rendezvous the next morning. With some careful navigation, we spotted each other and pulled out the cameras. We got some great pictures of Vlakvark sailing 2000 miles from the nearest land. (For more Vlakvark photos click on the photo)
Exhausted from all of the parties and photo shoots in the equatorial heat, we looked forward to taking up our routine again. Unfortunately, Ginger's jaw and throat became swollen. A tooth seemed to be infected, and she was taken off watch duty and stayed in her bunk. After a day or two, she became even more uncomfortable as the infection got worse and started to feel like it was affecting breathing. We confirmed our treatment plan via radio contact with a doctor. A course of antibiotics was started and Peter sharpened a kitchen knife just in case a tracheotomy was called for. Luckily the antibiotics did the trick and by the time we reached Hilo she felt much better. Marcy dropped the hook and tied to the quay after an easy approach to the small basin called Radio Bay at the far end of Hilo Harbor.