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Easing Into It

October 2, 2011

Day 4

Noon Position–
By GPS: 10.33.8S x 150.06.4W
By Sextant: 10.36.5S x 150.04.0W (Fine weather, but still, am pleased and a little suspicious of the accuracy)

Course: between 10 and 15 degrees true
Speed: 5.2 knots
Wind: 13 ENE (about 75 degrees true)
Sea: 1 – 3 feet NE
Sky: 25% occluded. Scattered light cumulus
Bar: 1013
Temp: 80 degrees

122 miles since last noon.

Wind eased in the late evening and I went back to a reefed jib, main and mizzen and, once set, didn’t touch sails or wheel till morning. Slept well in my one hour increments starting around nine o’clock and ending around six. Rose refreshed to a day of lighter winds of between 11 and 13 knots, but they’ve swung a little north, making our desired course of 20 degrees true not possible today.

Given all the miles and time we have (still a thousand miles to our first way point at 145W), I wouldn’t sweat this at all except for a scrap of land called Caroline Island at roughly 10N and 150W. Our original course took us 35 miles to windward of Caroline, but we’ve lost over half of that today and keep losing. I may have to go the lee side around. We should pass around six in the evening, but when I will first make eye contact is another question. She’s a low island without trees, I’m guessing, so her visibility could be considerable less than ten miles.

There are three tiny, mostly rock islands in this general vicinity, Flint, which we passed 85 miles to port overnight, Vostok and Caroline Vostok is west of Caroline and not in our path. None are inhabited as far as I can tell (this is worth mentioning given the very small atolls that ***are*** inhabited in the Tuamotus and Cooks). None are mentioned in my cruising guides, and I don’t know to which country they belong. The only thing of passing interest is that newer charts show Caroline as recently renamed to Millennium Island. Why? Flint, Vostok, and Caroline are such solid and evocative names. One can imagine, for example that Flint and Caroline were engaged to be married before she had an affair with Vostok. And while Millennium is a fine name for a tower, a hotel, a restaurant, who would choose to confer it upon an uninhabited, already named rock hundreds of miles from anywhere? How was this discussed in committee, I wonder, and where? It’s a mystery.

Am beginning to get into a groove. The day, I have decided, officially begins around 9:30 in the morning with my first sun shot. Chores until noon included working up the altitudes (all three this time), putting the wet towels out to dry, unloading the soggy materials from the forecastle and stacking them on the starboard settee, tossing overboard to the pleasure of King Neptune two sitting cushions too wet and too dirty to save (may he use them well), sponge-bailing the false bilge, greasing the wheel (the bronze collar rubs on the wheel stock due to the pull from the wind vane lines, and in rough weather the grease washes away), oiling tools that got salt-water soaked from work on the bow during the first two days, putting out the fishing lure, and sitting in the cockpit admiring the day. There is quite a bit of admiring the day to be done, so other things must be completed quickly. Sun shot at noon is followed by lunch, the retrieving and answering of email, the writing of this post, and then at 2:30, the afternoon sun shot, working out our actual noon position, and posting this. If I’m fortunate, official activities for the day end around four in the afternoon. Unless the wind changes.

Have appetite again too. Canned lentils with rice for dinner went down delicious. Granola for breakfast (water for the cereal, no milk) and an ancient but tasty grapefruit; tomatoes, cheese and an old, now cracker-like French baguette for lunch. Not sure what’s on the dinner menu.


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