_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Friday, March 30, 2007

Day 9, N10 deg 25 min, W 119 deg 35 min 9:00AM (Ginger)

We're still in the "reinforced trades" but these trades weren't reinforced in California they were supersized in Las Vegas I'm sure! We spent all night in 40 kts of wind with 10-12 foot seas slapping us around, flying just our storm staysl. We were rolling gunnel to gunnel at times and I ended up sleeping in the cockpit because it's like being in a (not so fun) fun house down below. We heard the other 3 boats from Zihua check in yesterday evening and they're sailing with their sails winged out
in 15 knots with 3 foot seas. They were actually complaining about the motion of their boats until we checked in. Such is the difference of a couple hundred miles. With such wind you'd think we would have really racked up some miles but we will have gone only 155 miles or so for our noon to noon reading. A respectable number but I was hoping for a little more to show for our athletic efforts last night. Our trip odometer says 1175 miles right now. We're definitely on the midnight express to
the Marquesas.
A funny thing happened as all this wind came up the other night. We took on a little water and closed every vent and hatch. It was 85 degrees in the cabin and very humid. After an hour or two, much to our horror, the smell of wet dog began to emanate from some unknown source. This wasn't just the "oh, the dog went swimming" kind of smell. This was the middle of winter, too many cross country ski trips with the dogs in the car kind of smell. The kind that once had a nicely heeling dog stop in
his tracks in a crosswalk and then turn to come to my car and see what all those good smells were, and the dogs weren't even with me then. Anyway, there we were, just us, the heat, the waves and the dog smell. Good thing we had our sea legs because that could have done me in. Early the next morning Peter joined me in the cockpit - the smell had gotten pretty bad by then. We'd been talking for about 40 minutes when I mentioned that I could even smell it in the cockpit. Peter decided it was his
fleece and removed the offending object. To no avail. Several hours later, sitting by myself in the cockpit same smell only stronger. Finally upon close inspection it was our Crazy Creek camping chair. They're much more comfortable than just sitting on the cockpit bench and that chair was definitely a favorite of River's on every hike. So, though long gone, the dogs are still making their little dog jokes on us. The chair is now on deck far from the cockpit awaiting our first and probably second
squall and a lot of soap.
The winds have calmed a bit and we've got the jib back out. It keeps the motion of the boat a bit steadier. Peter has a maintenance project planned today so we'll see if we get a little more settling comfortable enough to work in the bilge.
Our waypoint for turning south to cross the ITCZ is 5N, 130W. We're making good progress toward that point and once across should find calmer winds in the south. I called Don Anderson, weather guru, yesterday to confirm the times he's on the radio. It's kind of like calling your local news anchor man to ask for which headlines pertain just to your interests. Especially since weather is our big headline. He confirmed these trades should be calming over the next 4 days but didn't seem surprised
to hear our conditions. Not only does he give weather on several radio nets in Mexico and answers any questions on those nets but he also answers specific questions on two longer range frequencies and we may want to call him as we get further south.
Happy Friday!


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Wind and more wind! N 11 deg 18 min, W 117 deg 29 min 11:30A Seattle time 1830 zulu (Ginger)

We thought we were just in a little bit of wind that was coming from California but it turns out this may be our wind for the next 4-5 days. We're having a great passage it's just more athletic than I'd planned. Forget yoga or sit ups. Standing up at the nav desk writing on the computer is a full workout. Yesterdays dinner of cold refried beans and roast beef out of the can on cold flour tortillas was OK when we thought we'd be more comfortable soon but now it seems I'm going to have to get better
at cooking while everything is rolling around. Definitely a good time to use that pressure cooker. Last night I tracked my first squall on the radar. It stayed north of us about 2 miles but was a very dark cloud that came all the way down to the water and had a bit of lightning too. It was a very dark night last night with lots of clouds but finally about 4AM the dolphins arrived and the water started glowing again for the rest of the morning. We've gone 1042 miles now, day 8 and it's fun to
see the miles ticking away. Peter has been MacGyverin' little fixes and stowing solutions as the needs arise and life on board is comfortable.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

One reef or two? and would you like spray with that wave? N11 47, W 115 17, 3:30 local (Ginger)

So far the question of this passage has been should we have one reef or two in our main sail. On a passage which traditionally starts out with no wind we're thrilled to have so much but too much of a good thing can get uncomfortable. Well, today we got a lot of wind. We were just getting ready to change our clocks back an hour because we've reached long 115W. The wind had been building but these things happen occasionally. Right when it started building we took a wave over our bow that came
back across the deck and dumped water in our open companionway and an inch or so of water in the cockpit. That really got our attention. Soon the question of the day was should we have the jib or the storm staysl up. We spent the last 4 hours under jib and storm staysl. We've had steady 35 knots of wind and 10-12 foot seas. Hope springs eternal and we keep assessing if the seas are getting smaller and the wind lighter but it seems that this is continuing. So, for now Peter was able to whip
a chafe guard on the main halyard, opportunist that he is, and we're hanging on as we roll our way south west. We had cheese and crackers for lunch as the galley is uncomfortable right now. OK, Peter won't let me use the stove, he's afraid of what I'll do to myself and the boat in these conditions! Last night we had smooth waves and winds out of the NE at about 20 knots. We've heard the NE trades described as a magic carpet ride and we were celebrating that we might be in them. We'd like to
get back to those fantastic conditions soon. We're happy with the time we're making toward the Marquesas. Today was our third 160 mile day in a row. We'll write more as conditions improve. (Hope still springs eternal)


Monday, March 26, 2007

Day 5, 161 nautical miles! (555 tot) N 13 deg.23 min., W 109 deg. 57 min. 2:00PM 3/26/07 (Ginger)

We recorded our second best recorded mileage for the last 24 hours. (Our best was in December crossing the Sea of Cortez riding a Norther. We are tracking our mileage 12 noon to 12 noon each day and our mileage ending at noon today was 161 nautical miles according to our gps odometer. That's an average of 6.71 knots for the last 24 hours. We did have some very calm times yesterday afternoon and it was quite a boisterous night last night giving us such a great total. The waves were a bit rough
so it was definitely two hands for the boat weather trying to move around the boat. We needed every pillow in our sea berth to wedge ourselves in for off watch sleep. The wind is expected to be steady and possibly building. We downloaded a weather file predicting calmer wind tomorrow but we've been hearing about a storm of Oregon and California that's bringing strong winds our way. My money is on Don's forecast rather than the computer model so we're ready for as Don says "some honkin' good stuff!"

Our solar panels are keeping up nicely with our power usage. We've been using the radio a lot for net check-ins and email. We ran the water maker for an hour yesterday at peak sun, but peak sun has been marginal due to lots of cloud cover.
I'm making sure I'm on deck promptly for my watches and when I have bursts of energy I can do project for 20-30 minutes. Even writing at the computer in a moving boat that's 87 degrees inside with high humidity takes lots of energy. It's like running laps in a sauna. Peter has been very busy with boat maintenance projects, dish washing, moving ballast (beverages etc.) to the windward side and almost all of the sail changes - reef and unreef, furl and unfurl. No wonder he has an appetite. For
me ocean crossing is like any other hot strenuous exercise, definitely an appetite suppressant.

We've joined the roster for the Pacific Seafarer's net which is being forwarded to Yotreps for our position reporting. This is a site that Peter tracked for several years before we left on our trip. When I used to come home from work he would update me on how the boats on passage were faring and what the latest reports had to say as far as wind speed, direction etc. He could pull up all the boats on the roster and see them plotted across the ocean. It's been a privilege to be part of this ham
net and it's been great talking with net control in Kauai and the relays in Texas and Pitcairn Island.
Reports from the boats who left a couple weeks ago are as expected, big rain storms and electrical storms at the ITCZ. The lightening I could do without but I can hardly wait for some rain. With this wind even a dip in the ocean here is out of the question and we're going to fast for our salt water wash down pump too. Besides, it's hard to hold on for a real shower with the boat motion. Good thing we've both been here the same amount of time! It would be tough to be beamed onto our boat fresh
from civilization now.
Speaking of smelly, we have seen schools of flying fish all leap from the water together and bank and turn like swallows. So now we have a problem that we've had plenty of time to ponder. What do you call a group of flying fish? Are they a school or a flock? We've decided on a flool because the alliteration is so good - a flying fish flool.
Also, for those of you who knew me before.. here's proof this cruising life agrees with me. Someone recently said that they wanted to learn to be more like me; calm, relaxed and easy going about everything!
So, I'm off watch and it's time for some sleep. Thanks for the emails.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Traveling again lat N 14 deg 21 min, long W 106 deg 58 min 9:40AM 3/25/07 (Ginger)

It's been great so far to travel fast and have some longer stops along the way. We've had some great sailing weather and enjoyed our time spent with friends. Our stay in Zihua was the longest of the trip and we look forward to visiting there again. We found the bakery thanks to an email from Margie on Hoptoad, and we loved to visit with the storekeepers (Sylvia and her almost twin sister) even more than we liked the fantastic pastries. We enjoyed our time with Delfino who was a gracious host
and spent some Sundays with us. Nathaniel was always happy to give a spanish lesson and his wife was a great cook who shared her recipes with me. Carlos and Marissa were kind enough to take us to his family's restaurant and also invited us to the school fund raiser Mexican fiesta. Salma won the fund raising for her class and was crowned queen during the first day of spring parade (La Festival de Animales). We were so pleased to meet Hilda and Ismael who kept our boat supplied with water, diesel,
gas and beverages. Hilda always waved on her trips around the bay and was fun to see in her festive hats and dresses, perched on the seat or standing as their launcha cruised the yachts making deliveries. We are so glad that we finished our visit with scuba lessons as we got to meet our instructor Thierry, another fantastic host and a great guy. We really loved the people of Zihua.
As far as the passage goes we've gone almost 400 miles now. We're thrilled we got the bottom thoroughly cleaned right before we left. We only needed to motor a couple of hours to clear the land. This is very nice, because we'd been warned that many boats have to motor for days to escape the Mexican coast, and we don't carry much fuel. Of course, it's not an accident, we listened to Don (the cruiser's weatherman) and left when he said would be the optimum time for travel. The forcast is for building
wind by Tuesday - the gale off Oregon and California is expected to extend all the way south to 06 degrees North so it could be a wild ride in the next couple of days. We have been checking into the Pacific Seafarer's Net and they are posting our position updates on the Yotreps site. Somewhere there is a way to track to whole fleet in addition to our boat so if you're interested click on our Yotreps position link and then search their site for the pacific fleet report. We heard a net controller
from Pitcairn island last night on the net.
Our second night out there was almost no wildlife and I was beginning to think this was how the rest of the trip would be. The occasional booby and not much else. Coming on watch this morning at 2 AM Peter told me there were some lights to port that he was watching. It turns out we were converging on a shipping lane and I watched both ships for most of my watch as they slowly crossed our bow. About 4:00, just after the first ship crossed our path the dolphins arrived. There were at least 10
of them cruising along with us. We had some great wind then and were traveling at about 7 kts. Shortly after the dolphins arrived a flying fish flopped on the deck and started thrashing around leaving it's smelly scales on our spinnaker bag. After I pushed him back (too small to eat) the watch calmed down. Never a dull moment out here!
It's another sunny and hot (93 deg F on deck) day and I'm on watch now (10A) so I'll sign off.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

First day back at sea - pos 16 deg, 53 min N, 102 deg, 19 min W (Ginger)

It's 8:45PM and we've been underway for 12 hours. We hauled up both anchors at 6:00 this morning, though the stern anchor didn't fare well in Zihua. After fueling at Ixtapa we were underway before 9AM. We motored until noon when we started sailing close hauled into a westerly. We've had to sail further south than our intended course but we're grateful to have such steady wind. It was sunny and 85 degrees even out here at sea today and the red sunset was almost as beautiful as the stars and moon
are tonight. We were accompanied by dolphins several times and passed numerous turtles on our way out. We've figured out our watch and radio schedules and are starting to settle into the sea routine. There were still a few things to be stowed, lashed and otherwise dealt with as we converted the boat back to a sea going vessel today. It's tough changing from a house to a boat sometimes. We definitely maintained our sea legs in Zihua so I'm particularly happy to report that we both enjoyed dinner
this afternoon. It was good to leave with several meals in the fridge even if I did buy them at the Commercial Mexicana deli! Sad to say goodbye to Zihua and Mexico where we met so many wonderful people, cruisers and land dwellers.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Diving (Ginger)

Day two of our dive class and we're almost done. We aren't planning to dive much because we've heard the snorkeling in the South Pacific is fantastic but we're definitely more comfortable under water. We've been assured that after learning here we should be confident anywhere. The visibility is about 1 foot to recognize someone but 3-4 feet to see a shape in the water. Apparently March and April are the worst months for visibility here because of the high levels of plankton in the water. Tomorrow is our last day of class and then we'll be free to concentrate on food, sewing and getting ready to go. Don Anderson http://www.csus.edu/indiv/f/foxs/Summer%20Passage/sumpas_index1.html our weather man says Wednesday next week might be the day so we're planning to be done and ready by Monday. We're off to town to get photos taken for our scuba ID cards.
(Happy birthday Kathie - I've got a great record for a day late right now!)


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Shopping and more shopping (Ginger)

Last Sunday we had a visit from a friend we have made here, a young man named Delfino.  He works at a great (not too expensive) pizza restaurant on the waterfront.  I had been pestering him to find out where he mastered English, it turns out he had been an english teacher.  He was kind enough to bring a snack and spent the afternoon with us on the boat.  He brought pictures of his home in the mountains and we heard his story of moving to Zihua to teach english.  He's had a long working career for someone who's 18th birthday will be this May. If anyone has suggestions of how to get a job on a cruise ship (Konnie?) let us know because he's interested.   We found we had no pictures of home to show to Delfino.  Since then I've loaded some old photos to our photo page, so, no, we don't have a cat and dogs aboard, it's not snowing in Zihua.  Our K dock neighbor  Margie on Hoptoad had scanned a lot of old photos into their computer and used them as a changing art screen saver on their boat.  I loved looking at their travel and family photos when we visited. It was a goal of mine to scan some of our photos to bring with us but I never quite got around to it.  We'll have to do that before our next trip.  It's easy to take familiar home sights for granted when you live there.
This week has been busy with shopping, cat sitting, yoga, boat sitting, more shopping and stowing food.  We had two successful days of grocery trips and we've almost absorbed all of our purchases.  Truth be told we probably could have made it to the Marquesas without adding anything to our ample supply of canned and dry goods but now that the water line is a little lower and the lockers are full of our favorite snacks we're almost ready.  We were cat sitting for Effie while they took and inland trip to Morelia and Patscuaro.  By all accounts it's a great inland trip to a medieval city, we're sorry we missed it.   They reported the sightseeing was great but Mac was sick the whole time.  She went to the doctor upon their return and was diagnosed with Dengue fever.  This plus several other cases in the last couple of months has convinced us that maybe we really did have Dengue that first week here in Zihua.  It took us about 5 weeks to start feeling strong again.
Friday was a long day.  Peter spent hours in the morning trying to get a computer program working to for de-coding numeric weather reports.  Then we headed off on the major grocery trip and put away all of our new supplies.  As we made our last trip ashore to get our laundry we were invited to the beautiful ketch Sequoia for dinner.  Mary and Rick made a fantastic smoked Bonito and we enjoyed a delicious coleslaw and home-made peanut butter cookies.  It was the perfect end to a stressful day.  Mary and Rick are on their way north now and we look forward to maybe seeing them somewhere in the Pacific next year.
We've begun the bottom scraping job again.  It took over an hour to scrape 1/4 of the bottom yesterday so we should be done by the time we start our scuba cert class next Wednesday.  We decided we'd be smart to get certified here as we may want to dive somewhere and it will be nice to be ready to go.  Our class is 4 days Wed - Sat so we've delayed our departure to get certified.  Fortunately the weather report this morning said light to no wind for the next 5 days.  We'll be ready to go a week from tomorrow and if there's a promise of wind we'll be off.
Today is more bottom cleaning and sewing of lee cloths so it's time to put away the computer and get out the sewing machine.
(Happy Birthday, Jim!)



Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Zihua Feb 18 - Mar 6 (Ginger)

We had a great visit with Rachel and Paul last week, highlights of the week included snorkeling, meals out and a boat inspection by the local navy boat.   Rachel and Paul were kind enough to bring a huge duffel of supplies from home and we're still absorbing the great stuff they carried for us.  Thanks to "team Niem" for getting everything for us and for getting it to Raquel and Paulio to bring to us.  It was great to have a shower and a patio to sit on while they were here.  With the arrival of March our focus on getting ready to head west is clear.  Peter tackled a big engine job and it's great to have the engine all put back together and running again.  March 1 was the Lattitude 38 Puddle Jump party in Zihuatanejo.  In addition to the editor, Andy, two people from Tahiti came.  One was a representative from the Tahiti tourism board, the other a representative of Polynesian Yacht Services.  We've been discussing our strategy for visas to get the most time in French Polynesia and it sounds as if this is one country where having an agent help with the visa may be a huge benefit.  As Americans we can get a 30 day visa upon arrival and then extend another 60 days in Papaete.  Unfortunately, if we want to go to the Tuamotus Papaete is way out of the way.  So, if we use an agent we may be able to get our 90 day visa in the Marquesas and avoid having to post a bond as well.  We'll see as we get closer.  The party was great.  It was exciting to hear french accents and to have a presentation on our destination.  They also brought some "swag" including puddle jump burgees.  There was a drawing for a night at a swank hotel on Nuku Hiva and a black pearl pendant.  We won't be staying at the hotel but there is a new black pearl aboard Marcy.  (Latitude article:  http://www.latitude38.com/LectronicLat/2007/0307/Mar05/Mar5.html#anchor1085433 )  We also placed a large order with Hilda and Ismael for beer, pop, water and gas.  The boat had a distinct list to starboard when the whole order was loaded on the rail.  We felt very lucky to avoid carrying everything in the dinghy.  We're planning to be provisioned and ready to go this time next week and then we'll be waiting for the wind to fill in.