Wednesday, April 26, 2017

25

Twenty-five days out now, our longest time ever at sea.

We're at the point where the days blow by us without our hardly noticing. First we wake up, then suddenly it's time for dinner and night watch. The days pour through our fingers...like water. But we seem to barely get closer to Hawai'i. More than a thousand miles to go still.

Luckily our boys are old hands at this. They may get a little hyper at the end of the day, but they don't bug us with questions about how much longer it will take. When they do give into curiosity and make tentative openings along those lines, trying to see if I'll be forthcoming about when we might make landfall, I fall back on the vagueness that has gotten me this far as a combo captain/father.

More than a week, I say. And that's all I'll commit to.

Elias had the spot of the day today. He was at the rail, taking a leak, when his exclamations of wonder roused the rest of us from our blue sky reveries.

A pod of long-finned pilot whales had materialized just next to the boat. Close, but if Elias hadn't been at the rail it seems we might have sailed right by them, oblivious.

What a sense of wonder they gave us, these 20 foot long sleek black cetaceans that punctuated the endless expanse of waves and paid us no mind.

Whatever follies might be playing out in the world ashore, I can confirm that pilot whales still roam the wild plains of the eastern tropical Pacific. Which I find very reassuring.

Elias also plucked another mahi mahi out of the sea today, which gave us all a chance to be filled with a sense of wonder at Alisa's curried fish soup.

I've finished a draft of a science paper on this trip. Anyone who has tried to write a science paper while at sea on a family yacht can tell you what a very bad idea it is. The work gets done very inefficiently, and the experience of the passage suffers somewhat from too much frowning screen time after midnight.

I have also, and this is much more in the spirit of making long passages, discovered Jorge Luis Borges. I picked up a new translation of his Collected Fictions on a recent trip to America, just the sort of spur of the moment purchase at a bookstore that educated people used to make before You Tube was invented. I've finally cracked the book open on this trip, and what a pleasure it is to fill that particular void in my experience of the world and finally read Borges.

He has a particular gift for the aphorism. I plan to start my next scientific talk by quoting this one:

"You will reply that reality has not the slightest obligation to be interesting. I will reply in turn that reality may get along without that obligation, but hypotheses may not."

And, more simply, and very much to the heart of someone who, in the company of his children, watches schools of flying fish exploding from the sapphire water all day long, each lonely fish held aloft on wings that look like nets of diamonds:

"In this world, beauty is so common."
~~
This post was sent via our high-frequency radio as we're far from internet range. Pictures to follow when we reach internet again. We can't respond to comments for now, though we do see them all!

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Around South America

Looking at our logbook, I see that today we crossed our outbound track from San Diego, back in 2011.

So, in a veeerrrry roundabout way that involved a year in Tasmania, we have now completed the circumnavigation of the South American continent.

While we've sailed around a lot, I find that we haven't actually sailed right around many things. New Zealand comes to mind, and what a satisfying trip that was. I hope that we're lucky enough to eventually sail around North America as well, some day.

This sailing life. It looks hard to give up.

Meanwhile, our fondest wishes for the day did come true. Elias and Eric did pull another mahi mahi out of the water, just in time for dinner, making it a 2-mahi mahi meal day.

And, sad note. A weld on the quadrant of the Cape Horn windvane gave up with an heroic clang an hour ago, and part of the quadrant fell into the bilge.

The wind vane had been doing such stellar service on this passage. Now we are without its services until we can get the quadrant welded back together.

Hope that autopilot is feeling well rested and ready to steer us for the next 11 days or so...
~~
This post was sent via our high-frequency radio as we're far from internet range. Pictures to follow when we reach internet again. We can't respond to comments for now, though we do see them all!

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Champagne

We're now 21 days into this penultimate passage.

Twenty-one days in, and still about 1800 miles to go by the shortest route. Our previous record of 24 days at sea will be blasted far into second best, no matter what happens.

There has been ample time for everything in these 21 days. Ample time for sweating, early on, and wishing for wind. Now, at the dizzying heights of 12° North latitude, we find it so cool that the blokes sometimes wear shirts at dinner time; jackets have even made an appearance in the depths of night watch.

The time has also been ample for considering the limits to the more boosterish views that you hear expressed about the delights of raising children afloat. News flash: it isn't always idyllic. Eric, poor bloke, has struggled to find his footing for much of this passage. He hasn't fought seasickness at all - he has come far in that regard, at least on a flat sea.

But, trapped like this on the boat for day after long day, he has struggled at times with some of the worst impulses of a six-year-old. When he is alone with Alisa or me he is a delight, but as soon as his brother is around he tends to devolve into fighting and teasing and baby talk. And...we're on passage, so he is by force always around his brother.

Alisa, and especially I, sleep deprived as we are, tend to be short of the patience that an energetic six year old stuck on a boat for three weeks demands.

Looking through old pictures the other night, I was reminded that Galactic is the only home that Eric has really known. Most of the time we wouldn't trade these years of raising a young family at sea for anything; but there are long moments, like a weeks-long passage when one of your kid isn't being his angelic self, when the delight can be hard to find.

Life at sea is just normal life in that regard.

Meanwhile, though, we are well into the champagne sailing. Blue blue sea, sparkling white caps, and steady winds. I occasionally look at the weather forecast out of boredom more than anything else. In the trades as we are there is little to look for except more of the same.

Elias caught us a mahi mahi for our lunch today. Two others were thrown back for being too small, and two others got off. I wonder if he'll bring the sixth one aboard for our dinner?
~~
This post was sent via our high-frequency radio as we're far from internet range. Pictures to follow when we reach internet again. We can't respond to comments for now, though we do see them all!

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