Our starting time to cross the Pacific Ocean was to be 7.00 am.
We had a start time because we are in the unofficial “Get To The Beer Rally” Whilst in Panama we made alliance with two UK boats, Lion Heart of Clyde, Oddity and NZ boat Nora J. On the second last night before departure we each put into a secret envelope the order of who would do the best time to travel the 4100 nautical miles to Marquessa Island, as well as estimated times for each boat. We all agreed racing was not the agenda but getting there safely, as soon as possible the plan. Any day saved on a journey that could potentially take a month plus is a good day on land.
By the way I didn’t vote for Miss Catana to be first boat over the line, just because… Because it didn’t seem right to vote for ourselves. God I am stupid. I left the meal table thinking this, however the ocean is a humbling leveller so time will tell, if my first thought to put us second may have been right…..
A Little Background On The Non Official, No Cost, Cross The Pacific Rally Participants
Nora J – Captains Paul and Jane. NZ born. In past working lives, Paul and Jane operated the town pub that had been in the family for 100 years. Jane was a teacher and by nature still is. Paul has the quick wit needed by any decent publican, both are great company and we feel like we are at home when around them. Paul built Nora J and the two of them have been sailing for nearly 19 years, they have already circumnavigated the world, this is their second trip on their 40 foot boat. Jane was my age when she started sailing with Paul 19 years ago, like myself, at the time, had no idea of what she was getting herself into.
Oddity – Captain John and his happy side kick fiancée Debbie. These two have been engaged forever and have no intention of breaking a good thing. English born we find it easy to understand their humour. John is one of those humble chaps who is happy to assist and share his knowledge, when it comes to boats his knowledge is vast. Debbie reminds me of my younger sister, the life of the party and able to hold an audience effortlessly. Both John and Debbie are on their second circumnavigation and have been living on a boat for nearly 20 years, a beautiful 40ft Tartan. When I first saw Oddity, I thought it was newish but it is nearly 40 years old.
Lion Heart of Clyde – Captain and solo sailor Ray. We first met Ray in Aruba as we both departed together from the island towards Panama. You wouldn’t pick Ray as a solo sailor, he is articulate, clean, thoughtful and social. He would love a sailing partner but is yet to meet the right girl. Ray is currently en route circumnavigating the globe in his 40ft monohull. Ray has educated me in the ways of the British, as to why I should actually like our flag and what being from the Antipodes means. In his prior life Ray was a professional diver, one month on one off, he virtually lived on the floor of the ocean. He like other rally participants knows and understands the oceans.
Then there is Miss Catana – you already know about all about us.
I Need To Thank Panama
As much as Panama was painful in many ways, and gave us endless frustration, with no boat supplies, delivery headaches and bureaucratic nonsense, also expensive prices, the major win was, everyone else was in the same position. The delays allowed for the building of relationships that is often not possible with our current day to day. Panama was fun because of the friends we made. To travel in a small group was going to be fun, safer and something to look forward to. We have all planned to land at the Marquesas Island of Nuku Hira 4091 nautical miles from start to finish.
Another fact about the above three boats, each is a “dry” boat whilst sailing, but all participants love a beer whilst on land. I have now been initiated into drinking beer. I was pathetic and my best effort of three small beers, showed I have no beer drinking backbone.
I will stay with my glass of red and a gin and tonic.
Day One Rally Summary
7.30 Drama – realized our water maker was not working so turned around. Two litres of H2O in the fridge isn’t enough.
8.30 Arrived at Balboa Yacht Club and filled water tanks and bottles. Got on dock immediately, Sir Raymond assisted, got to love the man
10.00 am Arrived at anchorage and worked on water maker. Captain went through every step to isolate issue and resolve. Included long pipes and pouring salt water through funnels into the pipes. Fun in the sun.
12.15 pm Water maker fixed. Turns out a knob turned the wrong way to look like it was set correctly. What can I say?
12.30 pm After I had a cup of tea we had a swim. Last swim for a long time.
1.00 pm New Second Departure Time. Wind between 3 to 5 knots. Feeling a little frustrated we had missed the morning wind. Is our starting time 7am or 1 pm. We have decided 1 pm as Ray is yet to depart he is still waiting for a fridge part to arrive from Miami.
3.00pm Wind picking up from behind so put up large spinnaker sail. Miss Catana flying along at between 8 to 10 knots. Happy me.
7.00pm Wind picked up to 25knots and Miss Catana now going no less than 10 knots and reaching 14 knots. Time to bring this big girl spinnaker in. Never taken a spinnaker down with just the two of us and it’s now completely dark. Love night time adventure on a trampoline.
Shielded the spinnaker by taking the Genoa out, so we could pull the sock down. Excellent use of my body weight to gather the sail down and gain control. Debbie would have been proud of my sailing skill.
8.30 pm Now sailing with Genoa and Gennaker out doing an average of 7 to 8 knots. So much better than 14 knots in the dark. I wish however for those heady speeds for tomorrow in the daylight.
2.30 am Gaz asleep, I’m awake. I struggle to sleep on the first few days sailing, instead preferring a zombie like mode that is highly attractive. Perhaps I should write a book on sleep deprivation virtues and sell to Americans. It could work you know, no offence to smart Americans but let’s be honest some of your self help books defy any common sense or logic.
Observations from the trip thus far.
The turn around was advantageous as we managed to get full tanks the easy way – gold. The Captain now has a better understanding of all knobs on the water maker – outstanding! I managed to download a playlist on iTunes with remaining data credit. The bad news is because I don’t log on to iTunes whilst sailing it seems that after two weeks my iTunes download music disappears. Hate That! Gaz is happy as he doesn’t care if there is music or not, plus I own the album of The Cures greatest hits. Good grief. This trip could have a high personal cost.
So we missed what appeared to be a good start. Hey, what’s a six hour delay when this sail is going to take weeks and weeks. Plus I will be scanning the horizon in coming days hopefully we can catch up. We have become hunters. (Do I need to mention I have been awake nearly 24 hours straight now?) based on this Ray will be the ultimate hunter.
The Pacific is very different sailing to the Atlantic.
For one it is bigger. Much bigger.
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth’s oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the West and the Americas in the east.
At 165.25 million square kms (63.8 million square miles) in area, this largest division of the World’s Ocean and, in turn, the hydrosphere – covers about 46% of the Earth’s surface and about one third of its total surface area. Making it larger than all of the Earth’s land area combined. The equator subdivides it into the North Pacific Ocean and South Pacific Ocean, with two exceptions: The Galápagos and Gilbert Islands, straddling the equator are deemed wholly within the South Pacific.” (Source Wikipedia)
Secondly the sky, and waves also the wildlife are different. I could go on, however I will save the differences for another blog post. Most important is to realise that the Pacific is BIG and our quest to cross her in a sailing boat is achieved by less than 1% of the world’s population. Based on this fact, I think once I cross the Pacific this will be my one claim to something special, up there with giving birth to my three children. If you don’t think that birth is special, you haven’t been through the process. Crossing the Pacific seems easier in comparison.
I will sign off now and think about sleep for the first time in over a day and a long night.
PS I can already tell crossing as a couple was the right decision.