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The Two Captains


2100 Z- April 2
20*26M; 105*45
sog 6 kts.

We are underway...and making way! We departed at 9:45 local time this morning. shut the engine down an hour later and have been enjoying a super sail all day! 11 knots of wind from the West and making about 5.5-6.2 knots. Perfect performance for the fat lady. All the boats waiting with us left at about the same time. As might be expect the two lighter boats are way out in front and the two heavier ones are bringing up the rear. Guess where T2 is? Well there is another boat behind us by a few hours, and two more leaving the marina today so they will be a half day or more behind that. Here's hoping it is like this the whole way!

For those who like statistics: Our course from Banderas Bay is 234* (*=degrees on this computer!) for 384nm to a intermediate waypoint of 17*N 110*W where we should find the tradewinds. From there we will steer 237* (virtually the same course) 1,329nm to 05*N and 130*W where we will turn due south to motor across the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) as quickly as possible. Then SW on to the Marquesas the last 1134 miles. The total distance via these waypoints should be 2778 nautical miles

WE'll be sending out a little update every day or two. Love-the 2CS


0200 Z- April 4
19*05N; 107*40W
sog 4 kts.
cog 214*
Winds basically northerly 6-10 knots

Day2- At sunset on our second day out we are 162 miles out of Punta de Mita. Day One was a fine day of sailing! WE made a very respectable 125 miles in our first 24hr period. Today -- Day Two -- the wind has been much lighter. So light we were moved to bring out the big guns -- the cruising spinnaker fondly known as the "BFS". This expensive bagful of nylon has basically been sitting around taking up space since we got it. Today it finally earned its keep. We managed to get it up, keep it up, AND get it down again at the end of the day all as if we knew what we were doing. Keeping it flying in the light air was a bit of a challenge, more than our Aries steering vane was us to. As we may have mentioned the Aries steers in wide swings, a slackness the spinnaker won't tolerate. Still, we managed to make a speed that about equaled the apparent wind speed!

Other than the light wind the weather has been gorgeous. Bright sun and, best of all, very blue water. It has been a long time since we have seen blue water!

If you are confused by the date of this posting Tackless II has switched all her clocks to UTC time (also known as Greenwich Mean Time). This greatly simplifies keeping track of net and weather fax times and does away with worries about time zones along the way. It does have the strange effect of changing the date at just around sunset!

Love-the 2CS


1800 Z- April 5
17*26N; 109*58W
sog 5-6 kts.
cog 242*
Winds basically northeasterly 15 knots
345 miles out of Banderas Bay; 1891 miles to go!

Day3 - Our third day out we had reasonable sailing all day. The sky and water were both intense blue and the Aries windvane handled the boat well in the 10 kts of wind

Don and I have usually agreed that the third day is the break even in the passagemaker's sleeping patterns. This passage, however both of us have been quick to fall asleep despite the motion and the grunting of the autopilot beneath our bed! (Although we would prefer to use the windvane at night with its quietness and zero demand for power, we haven't had reliable enough wind to do so far.) Much harder, for me anyway has been waking up! Don on the other hand who sleeps intermittently through the night in normal times has adjusted easily to cockpit watches, especially as it has always been his preferred sleeping place. Unfortunately, he's supposed to be on watch when he's in the cockpit!!! No worries we got him a kitchen timer which wakes him at regular intervals, if he snoozes off.

Between the radio nets, the naps, the meals and the sail adjustments there just hasn't been the great stretches of free time that we envisioned. I had planned to learn a few computer programs, study my brand new "French for Cruisers" book, and read at least half of the 200 or so books we have in suitcase in the forepeak! Last night, however we gibed over to bear off south for awhile, and the seas quieted as we sailed gently along under the full moon. I dug out an Itty-bitty book light and spent a long watch reading. Reading on watch is something I personally would never do on overnight passages anywhere near shore. I'm am way too liable to get deeply involved in the plot and miss the fishing trawler bearing down on me. Out here, however, with my watch timer beeping every ten minutes, my good book -- "Life of Pi" -- made the night hours pass quickly. "Life of Pi" about a young Indian boy adrift (incredibly plausibly) in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, makes for oddly reflective reading out of sight of land. My first book of the trip, Thor Heyerdahl's "Fatu Hiva" about his exercise in back to nature living in the Marquesas before WWII was likewise thought provoking! I think I'll dig out some junk next!.

Day 4- After the calm night last night, the wind filled in from the NE as forecast and we have been sailing in tradewind-like conditions all day. The forecast is that these winds will merge fairly smoothly into the steady northeast trades ... sometime in the next 600 miles! Tradewind conditions include stronger winds (15kts) bigger seas more clouds and scattered showers. Although it is much more ideal for getting where you are going, it does make domestic life aboard a little more work. Already my knees and elbows are sore from bracing myself in at the nav station, and, since we are on a starboard tack (for the next thousand or so miles!), our overstuffed fridge threatens to dump all its contents downhill on me every time I open the door!

Tackless herself has been doing well. Boats who though they'd be in front of us are behind us. Other than the windvane that continues to challenge Don, systems have been working well. The packed fridges have been using more power than we hoped, and our three alternative energy resources -- the solar panels the wind generator and the towing generator -- are not yet quite cutting it, despite their best efforts. Our new solar controller actually overheated yesterday and shut down for a while. We have had to resort to the generator at least once a day. The only real solution is to eat up enough food so that we can shut one refrigeration unit down!

And so life goes, and will go, for the next few weeks!

The 2CS


1630 Z- April 7
17*26N; 109*58W
sog 5-6 kts.
cog 256*
Winds basically northeasterly 10-25 knots
600 miles out of Banderas Bay

Day 5- We had good strong NE winds yesterday that helped us put lots of miles (145) under the keel, but the ride was lumpy and pushed us more and more to the north of our desired course of 240 degrees. At times especially during the night, we were pointing toward Hawaii! We had to eat our equator steak last night as the little Adler Barbour freezer unit where I'd stashed it at the last minute wasn't keeping it frozen. It has an excuse; what with all the radio nets and rendezvous we have, the refrigeration units (whose control boxes cause interference) have to be turned off. So the equator steak became a 5th day-out steak, which is appropriate because this now becomes the longest passage we have made together (we individually have made the 8-day passage from Florida to St. Thomas).

A special treat last night was radio traffic on the Pacific Seafarers ham net from one of our former charter guests. Dan Karg and his family traveled with Don and me on Whisper in our second to last year and though they were only one-timers they have been great about staying touch. Since we left to go cruising, Dan, an active ham radio buff, has regularly been after me to come up on some ham nets. The Seafarer's Net is the first regular ham net I've checked into since Panama, so here was his perfect opportunity! We had a great chat all the more impressive since it was after 11pm his time! Even cooler was the fact that his son Jim, about to graduate from college was somehow listening in to the radio net on the Internet at the same time!!! Dan is going to send us info on how that works which I will send on.

Day 6- Where oh where, are the long Pacific swells and the hot tropical sun we've heard tell of? Not here! Not yet! We have had overcast skies and short choppy seas for several days now! We are getting so accustomed to the jostle, however, that we are both sleeping well in spite of it. Today we woke to our second morning of rain which a few hours later bloomed into our first squall. Got the staysail up and the genoa furled just in time to enjoy the 28 knot ride. This morning's plot showed us another 140 miles along. Very good performance for this old tub. Unfortunately we are not traveling the rhumb line to the intermediate waypoint (now 07N and 130W) thanks to these NE winds. Going straight downwind is not fun in these mixed-up bumpy seas. So we and most of the boats around us are sailing closer to 270 degrees (due west) than 240!

Best the 2Cs


2130 Z- April 9
15*06N; 117*50W
sog 6.4 kts.
cog 268*
Winds basically northeasterly 17 knots
860 miles out of Banderas Bay

Day 7- More of same. Nice meals, lots of reading, lots of rocking and rolling and oh yeah, we both took showers!

Day 8 - As of 1645 UTC this morning we have been underway a week! Contrary to what you might imagine, the time has gone fairly quickly. Between schedules, chores and naps there is no time to get bored. On the other hand, the two weeks we have yet to go looks like a long time!

The Pineapple Express (the name given to a band of clouds sucked up from the tropics) has weakened and we have finally been getting some sun. Makes a huge difference. The water gets blue again and the solar panels can fill the batteries. The clouds of the past few days totally robbed us of our full-moon sail!

Some friends caught a wahoo yesterday. Wish we were close enough to beg a few steaks. We are not fishing yet as there is not enough room to store our catch should we get one!

We have been experimenting with sail configurations this afternoon including running wing and wing but both times we popped our webbing bail on the preventer. We would like to live up to our name and TACK LESS. It is hard not to feel like you are wasting time zig-zagging toward your destination, but I honestly don't think the 2 Captains have the right attentiveness for wing-and-wing in these conditions. We are back to zig zagging.

The first of our compadres have arrived in the Marquesas. The grapevine has it there are already 20 some "European" boats there! It's fairly early in the cruising season yet. Indeed there were just
cyclones to the southwest of there in the Tuamotus!

All is well!

Best the 2Cs


1800 Z- April 10
12*55N; 120*53W
sog 5 kts.
cog 264*
Winds basically northeasterly 15 knots
1120 miles out of Banderas Bay

Day 9 - Beautiful sunshine all day! Brisk winds hurling us along at a record rate. We made 147 miles in the previous 24 hours. We are definitely in the trade winds at last. The winds blow steadily from the northeast around 15-20 knots, the swells are getting higher and somewhat more coherent. The Aries Wind Vane has settled in to doing a fine job, and we are zooming along with the main triple-reefed and the full genoa poled out. At night we gibe over and make some southing, stair-stepping our way down to the equator! Every once in a while we get rocked by a doozy swell that rolls us heavily side to side. In one of these I got shot right off the seat onto the cockpit floor! Ouch! In the afternoon it was so gorgeous we each indulged in a little sunbathing on the back deck...now we have lifejacket tans. Hmmmm.

Day 10- More sunshine! God bless Mother Nature...and Happy Easter while we are at it! Our friend Mike on Danseuse de la Mer reported hiding some chocolate eggs for his wife Mary, only he aborted after he got to worrying about what would happen to the chocolate in the tropics if she didn't find them all! The T2 Easter Bunny decided that a big breakfast would be more appropriate so instead of our usual fruit shake we had our Easter eggs in a vegie omelet with some grilled ham and Pop'N fresh biscuits! There will be no lunch today.

Cousin Patty wrote to ask if we have seen much sea life. The surprising answer is no. We had a few small dolphin one evening and a couple clumps of seabirds, usually boobies. One boobie gave me quite the start as I was walking back to the aft deck when I found him comfortably ensconced behind the fuel jugs enjoying his free ride. It's hard to image how they maneuver in there what with the jungle gym of equipment around the arch.. Don did see one boobie try to land on the arch solar panel but he slipped right off. Dangerous spot with the wind generator cranking! Mike and Mary had one land on and break off their expensive wind instrument! AS for creatures of the sea, most every time we go out on deck we find flying fish in various stages of rigor mortis. Here they come in two sizes, the large ones about eight inches long and little ones maybe three or four.

We are over halfway to the first waypoint of 07*N and 130*W. This is supposed to be the best spot to turn south across the equator because the doldrums are the narrowest there. The boats that crossed last week lucked into good winds still blowing them south. Right now those winds have dried up, and boats arriving there this will most likely have to motor through...about three hundred miles before the southeast trades resume. The good news is advance forecasting suggests the winds across the doldrums may filling back just about the time we get there! We may make this whole trip without running the engine!

All is well! Thanks for your emails!

Best the 2Cs


0300 April 12 2004
12*18N; 123*16W
sog 6.2 kts.
cog 223
Winds basically northeasterly 15 knots
1277 miles out of Banderas Bay

Day 11 - This morning I was biting my tongue for my brash optimism yesterday about sailing the whole remaining way. During the night the winds went light and the boat rolled heavily and worst of all we were forced way north of our desired course (290* instead of 235*). The morning dawned with even lighter wind and a sky layered with eerily beautiful clouds. After coffee and the morning weather report, we decided to fire up the engine instead of the generator to get some mileage along with our battery charging. Fortunately within two hours the wind began to fill in again and we could shut down. We set up to sail wing and wing which this time was very comfortable and right on course although fairly slow. On the midday Puddlejumper Net we heard that many friends were using their cruising spinnakers, something we had been considering the pros and cons of for several hours. The chief con was the bank of mixed clouds and showers dead ahead. Getting caught in a squall with the BFS up was not something we were keen to experience! Fortunately even as we started making the sail changes preparatory to hoisting the spinnaker, the wind filled back in smartly from the NNE and we were able to continue sailing briskly on a starboard tack aimed right at our waypoint! Thanks to the twelve-hour lull, the seas had settled way down so our afternoon ride was as nice as you could ask for. The clouds even went away! Finally to top off a great afternoon Don cooked! WE had a tomato crisis with a bunch of tomatoes going half bad, so after I went through them all and cut up all that was salvageable, he had plenty to make his famous fresh tomato linguine dinner!

Got insomnia? You can listen in to our nightly check-ins to the Pacific Seafarers Net on the Internet. This is exciting stuff. I, Gwen -- aka wp2ail -- give our position, our course, our boat speed, the wind direction, the wind speed, the swell direction and height, percentage of cloud cover and the barometric pressure. The net controller reads it back to see if he copied correctly, he tells me the distance we made good that day and asks if there is any incoming traffic. I am the fourteenth boat in the roll call and they usually get to me around 0345 UTC. ( I am embarrassed to say that I have pretty well lost track of what time zone anybody is in back home these days. That you will have to figure out for yourself). Different net controllers proceed at different paces, and only when Bob of N6HGG is on the air is the net online. If all this still sounds irresistible, you can go to www.shoutcast.com where there should be instructions. When we cross the equator, for example it might be a tickle, but then again it has all the makings of the same debacle the Panama Canal third lock camera was! At the very least it will help put you to sleep!

Talked on the ham radio tonight with the first of our friends to get a hook down in the Marquesas. Makes it seem very real! The group just ahead of us has been bedeviled by calms so it could mean we catch up! Keep your fingers crossed.

Best the 2Cs


1715 UTC --April 14, 2004
10*47' N; 125*32' W
Winds ENE - 060*- 13 knots
Course 229* @ 5.5 kts.
1452 nm out of Banderas Bay

Day 12 - Back in the charter days, every charter week had a "hump" day -- usually Wednesday, usually at Cooper Island -- when my energy flagged and I felt like I couldn't cook another meal or dive another dive. One of my great regrets back then was that the restaurant at Cooper Island wasn't better. But then Thursday dawned and everything was fine.

Well Day 12 was hump day for the 2Cs here on Tackless II. Our lovely wind of the afternoon before died off leaving us to roll and slam all night. Nothing we did made it better. Neither of us slept, and for the first time on this passage we both felt really worn. Breakfast preparations revealed that several jars in the fridge had opened themselves up and distributed their contents all over everything making a huge mess that took two of us an hour to clean up! So we were very slow to put up sail for the day. The Liberty 47 Bobulona, with Dennis, Shari and crew Francois, had fallen into pace with us about three miles away for a few days. This was nice for all of us in that there were other sails/lights on the horizon and someone we could chat with on the VHF to compare notes on the weather, the fishing, or the big target on the radar. But on Day 12, the 2Cs were running so low on pep that it took us a while to realize that Bobulona was holding back to stay with us. Their choice, of course but it weighed on us a little. The cruising spinnaker seemed to be the sail choice of the day for the fleet, so Don and I struggled to get the BFS up. It was just one of those days where none of the lines ran right. Doggedly we continued and we got it hoisted safely, but the BFS is not a sail you fly unattended. So there were no naps for anyone all day.

By late afternoon we were positively bushed, so even though we were flying along we stowed the spinnaker and set up a conservative sailplan for the night even though there was probably still three hours of good light left. To stay with us Bobulona would have had to sacrifice three hours of good sailing. I think they would have done it, but we told them they shouldn't adjust themselves to us. We wouldn't and I told them that. Hopefully we didn't hurt their feelings, but through the night they "walked away" from us. As Don put it, with the extra crew person, they were "working with an extra cylinder." This morning they were 20 miles west of us!!!

Day 13 - We, however, had a great, if conservative, night. After a good dinner, we both slept deeply, woke refreshed and although we didn't make the mileage that Bobulona did, what we did make was right on course! We are currently sailing wing-on-wing, the ride is smooth, and Don is even talking about putting another fishing line out. (Something chomped off our last one despite it being 350 pound test!)

WE were so tired yesterday, we didn't even realize that our "hump day" really WAS HUMP day! Yes, yesterday evening we passed the halfway point. In the process of figuring that out, I realized that in my first Underway Update I made a small typo in my calculations that made a pretty substantial error in the statistics on the trip. The total distance we have to travel is 2778nm not 2309nm and our second leg from the "intermediate" waypoint will be 1134nm not 596! Oops. We are fixing it on the website, but I figured I had to fess up here too.

By the way we have really moved into tropical weather. The air temps are a lovely mid-80s and the nights are mild enough we can dispense with all the layers. The daytime skies are filled with the high puffy clouds with showers beneath them that we knew so well in the Caribbean, and last night the stars were oh so bright! Venus is like a beacon!

We are ready for the second half!

Best the 2Cs


1715 UTC --April 14, 2004
10*47' N; 125*32' W
Winds ENE - 060*- 13 knots
Course 229* @ 5.5 kts.
1452 nm out of Banderas Bay

Day 14-16 - We are losing track of the days! We have been traveling through bands of clouds and showers as we inch down to the equator. In the afternoons the clouds usually break and we get a shot of blue sky. Our winds have held for the most part and the seas have smoothed out somewhat. Nighttime and morning seem to be the time for squalls. None we have experienced so far (knock wood) have been any stronger than we were used to seeing in the Virgin Islands.

After much urging by me and some of our radio fellows Don got the fishing line in and we promptly caught a small tuna. A very small tuna. This is the size fish most of the other cruisers have been getting. My theory on this is that these are the ones that get through the huge nets being used by the big tuna boats. There is at least one if not two such tuna boats working in the region we have been passing through. Almost all of the puddlejumpers have sighted these ships and if not the ship itself then the helicopters they use to sight the tuna schools. Several days ago when we were still in company with Bobulona, we had a helicopter circle us several times. Since both boats were flying their colorful spinnakers, it must have made quite a sight.

Speaking of spinnakers, we won't be flying ours for awhile. We have had a fitting on the port lower spreader break. It is the attachment point for the upper intermediate, a wire that extends diagonally up from the outer edge of the lower spreader to the inner base of the upper spreader. Don has managed to capture the loose cable and tie it off, but until we get it fixed we won't want to be flying any of the big stuff. This is not a huge loss to us as we have spent much of our time sailing double-reefed with the staysail anyway. In the lighter air of the equatorial ITCZ we may be sorry we can't fly the BFS, but by then it may be so light we'll need to motor anyway. It will also probably slow down our arrival time in the Marquesas a bit which right now looks to be about 8-10 days away. Fortunately one of our fellow passagemakers is a rigger, and he thinks he has the material for a repair on board.

Slowing down a little doesn't hurt our feeling anyway, because the other day I had a small mishap. Remember that tuna I mentioned Don caught? Well in my excitement I dashed below for the bottle of gin we keep for subduing our catch (nothing does a better job than gin!) and in a moment of inattention on my way back up the companionway a rogue wave swung me right off onto the galley counter resulting in some bruised ribs. So I am moving a little slowly these days. Nothing a regular program of Ibuprofen can't deal with.

On the other hand the slower speeds that we and the boat are now operating at have made for lots of good reading time and Don and I are finally making dent in the duffle bag-full of books filling up the forepeak.

I have also become a successful sprout farmer. As the fresh vegies in the fridge have waned, I finally broke out my three-tier sprouter and the two dozen or so packets of sprouting seed mixes from "www.Sproutpeople.com". I set the sprouter in the basin in the forward head which makes watering them three times a day very easy. Without the bottom tray the excess just goes down the drain. After four or five days I bring the sprouter into the cockpit for an afternoon of sunlight to put a little green into them, and then the harvest goes into salads, soups, sandwiches etc. Today I made turkey tostadas topped with cabbage, sprouts, salsa and a little chipotle mayonnaise. Yum! I have to laugh though; when I took the sprouter with my second batch up for sunlight this afternoon, I had a minicrop growing lustily in the drain where some seeds had spilled out during a rocky watering session. Shades of "Bodysnatchers of the Bilge" a nautical sci-fi nightmare.

Lastly, I should warn everybody that you may not hear from us for a few days during this next week. The boats in the group about a week ahead of us reported that most everybody had trouble connecting for email for a four day-stretch in the equatorial zone. Don't know it if will happen to us, but just don't want anyone to worry.

Best the 2Cs


0709Z --April 18, 2004
04*59N; 129*23' W
Winds ENE - 060*- 13 knots
Course 213* @ 5kts.
1891.8 nm out of Banderas Bay
1048 nm to Nuku Hiva


Day 19 & 20- We crossed the equator before dawn on our 20th day at sea. The precise moment was 1336 UTC and the precise longitude was 131.31W. It was over before we knew it! Being dark we did not heave-to for a swim, but we did break out the 2C’s preferred rum, which has been gathering dust for the past 20 days, and poured out a tot apiece which we shared in a toast with King Neptune. Then we listened to the 1315 weather report, made coffee, and an hour or so later watched a beautiful sunrise. We capped our celebration off with a special breakfast of sun-dried tomato bagels (given to us by our friends Dan and Sally in Mazatlan) with cream cheese, scallions and smoked salmon! Yum! I believe we celebrated our first equator crossing with smoked salmon!

The psychological difference of being in the southern hemisphere is huge. After days of unpleasant weather (some boats behind us really got slammed), we have a cloudless sky and a ten knot breeze from the south to which we are sailing on a fine close reach. The huge long swells we've been looking for have materialized. A bit scary yesterday in the squally conditions filling the horizon, today they look like undulating hills on a rolling prairie.

The weather report calls for the winds to steadily fill in. Somehow we managed to get through all yesterday's mess of squalls and windless holes using only four hours of engine time. If it keeps up like this today and fills in with more, we will be very happy campers. This is the kind of sail you lean back, put your feet up, and say "I could cross an ocean in conditions like this!"


Posted 1710Z --April 21, 2004
00*08S; 132*38' W
Winds s @ 8 knots
Course 232* @ 4kts
2262.2 nm out of Banderas Bay
682 nm to Nuku Hiva

Day 21 & 22 - Apologies for sending out the same text for two updates. I use the most recent update as a template for the new one which works great as long as the one acting as a template has already been sent out. This time Day 17 & 18 had been posted but never sent! So when I used it as a template, the new material erased the old material. Ooops. What you missed was a nice little explanation of the traditional equatorial ceremonies for King Neptune and some whining about the squally weather.

These last two days have simply been fine sailing under blue skies, dotted with little cumulus cotton-puff clouds. The first day we struggled along making only 3.5-4 knots in about 10 knots of wind. This would be ideal T2 sailing conditions if we could have everything up, but confined to our conservative sail plan (trying to keep all force below our upper spreaders) 10 knots is not enough. Although the ride was very nice, psychologically it was killing us to hear that all the boats we had left in the dust were steadily catching up. In every sailor's heart there lies a competitive edge! In ours it only wakes we are in the lead! By evening, however the wind had picked up to 15 knots, and all through yesterday we flew along making a steady 5-6 knots. Don caught another small tuna in the afternoon, enough for two meals. It is a real Catch 22: we love the fresh fish, but he really wants me to be able to shut down the extra freezer. Radio rumor has it that the first influx of seasonal cruisers have sucked up all the fuel available, so we are trying to conserve all that we have, which is actually more than half of what we left with! Tonight, the wind is back down to 10 knots and our speed is likewise back down to 3.5. Sigh there goes the Tuesday arrival. there's still hope the wind is supposed to get up to 20 so perhaps we'll make up the time.

Perhaps it was in the missing update but we got a contact through the Pacific Seafarer's Net that there is a French Navy base on the island of Hiva Oa that has a machine shop which in past years has been willing to help out cruisers. We have two parts now that need to be welded or replaced, so we have changed our landfall port once again back to Hiva Oa. The good news is that this makes a side trip down to Fatu Hiva an easy day run.


Posted 0402Z --April 24, 2004
03*25S; 135*11' W
Winds e @ 10 knots
Course 210* @ 3.7 kts (at the moment!)
2514.5nm out of Banderas Bay
436 to Hiva Oa (note: we've changed destinations)

Day 23 & 24 -- Back in our charter days we used to say that every turnaround was a 24-hour turn-around. In other words no matter how long the break between charters, the last twenty-four hour period was as hectic as if it were all the time you'd had. Well we are discovering you can be on passage for 20-something days but still the last few days seem to last forever. It didn't help that our weather turned lousy in the middle of the night a few hours after I posted the last message. The clouds massed and we were hit with our first big-wind squall of the trip -- 33 knots for a half-hour or so with 20-25 for the balance of the hour. Not really too bad except for worrying about the rig. T2 came through just fine, but the 2Cs were a little stressed. The rig concerns aside, we have a huge advantage over our fellows when it comes to bad weather. Between the hardtop and our enclosure we rarely have to even think about foul weather gear. Unfortunately our enclosure does not zip up in the back so when the wind is astern the rain can come in on the helm seat.

The day after continued with heavy overcast and ominous dark clouds with rain. Fortunately almost none of them brought squally winds. The problem is we don't know till they're on us whether we'll get nasty winds or not, so we were forced to shorten sail over and over again. Ironically in between there really wasn't enough wind to sail and the seas were sloppy, so we finally succumbed and motored about 36 hours hoping to get south of it all. Since we had expected to have to motor more in the ITCZ, we could afford the fuel. Still, sailors would rather sail. Everybody we talked to on the radio was grouchy!

Last night after sunset however, the clouds finally lifted and we had a perfectly gorgeous night with a gentle breeze and a sky filled with stars. Today was the daytime version. Just beautiful. The winds were still on the light side which was frustrating in that we really are only a good day's sail away from port -- good day's sailing speed being 5-6 knots. At 4-5 knots under our reduced sail plan we wouldn't make it in before dark. So we are just gliding along and 3.5-4 knots instead hoping to arrive at the approach waypoint around daybreak.

Speaking of time my cousin wrote to ask me to explain what "UTC time" is. UTC time -- officially Coordinated Univeral time and also known as "Zulu" time -- is virtually the same thing as Greenwich Mean time. It not only is the standard time signal used by broadcast time services for coordinating daily life, but it is fundamental to accurate navigation whether you use a GPS or a sextant. In the "old days" sailors had to carry and care for accurate clocks, but these days most of us get our UTC time by satellite on our GPSs or on our HF radios.

Given that the Earth had 360 degrees of circumference, and given that the earth rotates once on its access every 24 hours, the time zones advance in 15 degree increments (i.e. 360 degrees divided by 24 hours = 15 degrees) east and west away from the Greenwich meridian, twelve hours each way to the International Date LIne. The various time zones of the world are determined by how many degrees away from the Greenwich meridian (0* longitude) you are. In the US for example, Vermont, North Carolina, and Indianapolis are ZD-5 or five hours BEHIND Greenwich while Los Angeles is ZD-8 (Note: they are -4 and -7 respectively during summer's daylight saving's time.) Sydney Australia on the other hand is ZD+10. These 15-degree zones of course get modified slightly by geography and man's convenience. Valparaiso, Indiana -- where Don's brother lives for example shold be the same as Indianapolis but they choose to be ZD-6 for the convenience of being a suburb of Chicago. The Marquesas, however, are ZD-9h30min! Which means when it is 7pm in California is is 5:30 in the afternoon in Hiva Oa!

All these changing time zones can make it pretty challenging to keep with the radio schedules etc. so most cruisers keep the ship's clock on UTC time (Greenwich Mean time) and all our schedules are also in UTC time. When we left Puerto Vallarta (ZD-6), I changed my watch and all our clocks to UTC time. Don stubbornly would not change his watch which has the unfortunately side effect of his looking for lunch at about 9am! No matter, with all the night watches and afternoon naps our internal clocks are pretty screwed up!

If all this is hopelessly confusing you can buy a neat clock by Casio which shows all the world's times zones. It's on OUR Christmas list!


Posted 0656Z --April 27, 2004
08*12S; 137*42' W
Winds e @ 10 knots
Course 215* @ 3.5 kts (at the moment!)
2841 nm out of Banderas Bay
113nm to Hiva Oa (landfall waypoint)

Day 25-A very pretty day with about 10-15 knots of wind. As planned we kept our pace slow so as to arrive in time for first light tomorrow Wednesday. We sighted the small island of Fatu Huku off to the north backlit by the sunset. Hiva Oa continues to hide just out of reach of the radar. We expect to make landfall tomorrow morning.


Posted 0410Z --April 28, 2004
09*21S; 138*27' W
Winds e @ 10 knots
Course 221* @ 3.4 kts
2923 nm out of Banderas Bay
31nm to Hiva Oa (landfall waypoint)


Day 26-Dawn found us right at our waypoint about four miles off the eastern cape of Hiva Oa island. Rain showers washed across the waves and the steep cliffs, and sunlight revealed lush greenery and made rainbows. The anchorage for Atuona is tucked up in a small bay behind a man-made break-water, but this does not make it a calm refuge. We dropped our main, made a tight turn amongst the packed boats and dropped anchors bow and aft to hold us lined up cheek by jowl with the boats already here. A 2-3 foot swell continued to roll through the bay smashing with a boom and fountains of spray onto the rocks less the 100 feet of our starboard beam! All the boats anchored here jounce and roll, but everybody works together to shoehorn the new guys in. But compared to some of our nights underway this is positively calm. And it is breathtakingly beautiful. Twists and spires of green mountain thrust up into the clouds and the air is scented with tropical flowers. Among the bouncing yachts, muscular Marquesan men paddle brightly painted outrigger canoes back and forth going nowhere in particular that I can see. We're DEFINITELY not in Mexico anymore, Toto.

So ....we are safely arrived and I'm sure we will have much more to tell about this very new, very different part of the world but, right now we are going down for a long, long, long night's sleep!

0523Z --April 28, 2004 (1957 (7:58pm) April 27 Marquesan time)
09*48S; 139*01' W at anchor Baie Tahuku, Hiva Oa Marquesas
2973 nm out of Banderas Bay


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