We're in the routine now - Alisa spent a long sunny morning in the cockpit, reading to the boys, while I made up for the sleep that I missed while standing watch last night. I don't know if it has anything to do with the timing with which I was interrupted through the night, but I awoke with vivid memories of my dreams.
Elias tells us this morning that he would like to continue sailing until he's 16. And he would like to sail to Antarctica. Me too, says Eric. I want to sail to An-arcica.
For the record, no adult on Galactic is entertaining ideas of sailing to Antarctica. During times like the start of this passage, when nothing was smooth, it was easy to imagine that we might give up this peripatetic life. Why Tonga, after all? It's not like we're going anywhere in particular, we're not at all on a voyage around the world or anything like that. So when the sailing gets hard, it's easy to second-guess all of the effort and resources we pour into living this way. We can decide to end our sailing days any time we choose.
But the problem, of course, is imagining an alternative on land that would appeal as much. I've worked hard to keep my employment options from withering during these years away - I'm finally doing a PhD, I'm publishing in my field and collaborating with colleagues back in North America and going to occasional conferences. So when the time does come, I am hopeful that I'll be able to slot into a role as a productive member of society without too much drama.
But...there's something about the way that we've been living for these last six years, this absolutely-everyday but dream-like way that this massive chunk of the peak years of our life has unspooled, that encourages us to continue to dream. When we talk of going back to Alaska, we talk about the places we might visit in that Great Land, the berry picking and camping and skiing that we might do with the boys - we have some vague notion of a life that involves hard work, but on our own terms and with plenty of time spent outside. In other words, we look at our old life in Alaska through the prism of a wouldn't-it-be-nice fantasy.
Meanwhile, in a much more quotidian vein, our Perkins engine has mysteriously stopped leaking oil. We're now motoring through light winds. I shut down every six hours to check the oil, and instead of finding that I have to gurgle in a big slug to replace what's collected in the engine pan, the dipstick reads the same full level every time. It's a funny thing - if this were a Japanese diesel I'd be worried if it leaked oil, but since it's an English engine I worry when it stops leaking oil. But I'm also an old master at engine monitoring, and so am not too concerned. Either the replaced, re-torqued head gasket did the trick, or the Lucas oil stabilizer actually lives up to the claims on the label about stopping leaks...
So that's the state of things on board. We're giving up a chance to make easting early in order to head for Minerva Reef, counting on a long-range forecast that tells us it will be easy to get to the east later on in the trip, in the trade wind zone. The only problem is that the forecast is changing every day - first it promised westerlies late in the week, then southerlies. So we're keeping an eye on it...
At 7/7/2013 12:53 AM (utc) our position was 29°40.15'S 177°50.48'E
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