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Miles Made Good

May 22, 2011

Position: 06.20.93S 135.52.39W
Course: 217t
Speed: 6.7 (about .7 of that is a south setting current that’s helping us out) Wind: 13 gusting 16 SSE
Sky: 30% cloud
Temp: 80 degrees
Bar: 1012

143 miles noon to noon. That’s our best single day mileage yet!

Early in the passage our specific compass heading at any given moment wasn’t as important as ensuring each day we made as much south westing as wind allowed. But the Marquesas Islands are tiny, and we are approaching–now our compass heading is critical.

So, to get us back on course, I ran Murre close hauled all night in 15 to 18 knot winds from the SSE and a slop that caused her to pound terribly, even with a reef in the main and a double tuck in the working jib. Water over the bow was so common that it never fully drained from the windward decks or the aft near the captain’s seat where it puddled and stayed unless I scooped it out. And heavy spray over the cabin top was a frequent occurrence, making my favorite observation post–standing in the companion way hatch–a guaranteed dowsing.

Murre’s motion was such that I gave up on cooking and instead finished off, cold and right out of the pot, the cabbage and potatoes cooked the previous night. Sitting, knees to chest, below the closed companion way hatch I wondered how I would sleep without being ground into paste. I abandoned the idea of the sleeping berth, and instead stacked a number of pillows against the leeward settee and leaned back with my legs over the table in a position that looked like a drunk had collapsed there. It was workably comfortable.

But the noise I could not ameliorate. A boat’s cabin is like the inside of a guitar sound box. Every creak and clank on deck and swoosh of a wave below is magnified to ridiculous proportions inside the cabin. The working of the main sheet blocks, the jib sheet humming with tension, water over the bow, spray on the coach roof, that odd wave that slams Murre’s exposed bilge so hard it sounds like she’s hit something solid–all are alarmingly loud from below.

Luckily, the day of climbing in increasing wind had worn me out. I began the sleep cycle at nine o’clock, and didn’t finally give up my recliner until seven in the morning. (This did, however, include two longish episodes of sail/course work on deck during which I got drenched–so it wasn’t all roses).

By morning we had gained four weather miles on our rum line course. I gave a tentative look out the companionway hatch and saw that every exterior inch of Murre was soaked and still being soaked. And in addition to the usual casualties, a few flying fish and the odd squid, there were a number of Man-O-War jellyfish in the rigging and on the sails. Apparently Murre had flung an entire colony into the air at some dark moment of night, and not all had found their way back to the sea.

By noon we were ten miles to weather, at which point I began to feel more comfortable about our position. Late in the afternoon the wind began to ease and veer such that now we are under all plain sail, wind nearly on the beam, and making seven knots over the ground.

At this rate, if it holds, we could make Hiva Oa by noon on Monday. Atuona, the tiny bay inside of which is the village, is described as a terrible anchorage–open to the SE, rolly and buggy. But right now I don’t care because I know where the shower is and who I can ask to do my laundry. I also know there’s a cafe in town that serves ham and cheese croissants.

220 miles to go as I write.

That’s my report for today.

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One Comment
  1. Lou Bouc permalink
    May 23, 2011 8:03 pm

    Sounds like a great trip….I bet the Marquesas will be awesome!

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