Saturday, April 5, 2008

Things are Looking Up

April 5, 2008--Our days since the first of April have been a very mixed bag. The winds have, until last night, been anywhere from 4 knots to 10 knots. The sea state affects us more than the wind. With the lower winds, if the boat gets knocked by a wave, it loses all forward momentum, and we end up bobbing around waiting for more wind. So we have had very moderate days lately as far as mileage is concerned.

The night before last, we were in a lull, and I was sleeping down below when suddenly Steve called me up to the cockpit. A squall had come through and the winds were increasing rapidly. He was hand steering the boat so I had to help him pull in some of the head sail to reduce sail area in order to make it easier to steer in the high winds--they got up to 28 knots. Then it began to rain. We have a bimini over the cockpit; however, the rain was coming in sideways. Needless-to-say, the cockpit and Steve and I were all soaking wet. What's really amazing is that even though we are south of the equator, it is still cool in the evenings. We were both shivering in no time. The good thing about the squall was that we finally had some wind, at least for awhile.

Yesterday was not good at all. We had so little wind that the sails were just slapping back and forth. It's amazing how that noise begins to irritate you. It is also extremely hard on the sails and the rigging. That went on all day and almost all night. Every now and then we might 10 knots of some decent wind, but then it would drop off again. I came on watch at 4 a.m., and Steve went below to sleep. He had pulled in the jib, and we were just bobbing in one spot. Not 15 minutes later, the wind piped up to 12 knots, but the boat was basically into the wind so I called him back up to help me get the sails set. He thought that it was just wind from a rain cloud; however, we got everything set up, and then he went back to bed. The wind is still blowing around 11-13 knots, and we have had great sailing since early this morning. We have averaged between 6.5 and 7.5 knots, which will make it a very good day.

We are now under 500 miles to the Marquesas. We are definitely ready to get there and relax before we tackle the engine problem. The whole fleet behind us is experiencing very light winds. It was supposed to be a La Nina year, which meant above average trade winds. I'm not sure what happened, but we haven't seen them. We have been very lucky regarding squalls. The few that we have encountered have had rain but no lightening. One boat was in squalls for 3 days straight. The rain is fine since it washes all the salt off the boat.

Today is really beautiful and sunny with just few clouds in the sky. Yesterday and today have been good solar days. We have had to use the generator about every 4 days since we don't have an engine to charge the batteries. The wind generator really kicks in when those squalls hit. The winds were up to 28 knots the other night so the generator was screaming.

We are hoping that these winds are now really part of the trade winds. We will just have to wait to see if they continue this evening.

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