Saturday, December 27, 2014

Almost Legendary

So these are the triumphant pictures - ending the passage under spinnaker, with our first view of South America coming as the sun was rising on a beautiful day.  Obviously good stuff, but of course to understand what an over-the-top moment it was you have to consider everything that went on during the 24 days of sailing that got us there...

Landfall at dawn
Raising the "Q" flag - the traditional notice that we require pratique to enter a new country...
I guess that I don't want to write too much more about the passage now - I think the stuff I wrote while we were at sea captured it pretty well.  I'll just sum it up by noting that as we were motoring up the Valdivia River, in a great moment of interregnum between the lawless open sea and the moment when we would clear formalities to enter into Chilean jurisdiction, Alisa and I both described the passage as our best ever.

Now that I've thought that over a bit, I would say that's not quite true, just because nothing could compete with our first passage to the Marquesas.  That was our first time crossing the equator, our first time being more than a thousand miles from land, the first time that we were setting out to cross an ocean.  We didn't know how it would go beforehand, of course, and it went great - we didn't want the passage to end.  So that first time is a bit legendary in my memory.

This passage couldn't compete with legendary.  But it was pretty damn good.

So, if you'll forgive a tired writer this indulgence, here is the story of the passage in a few pictures.

Just some of the fruit that was given to us in the Gambier
before we left.  We'll never forget the generosity of Polynesia
After the first few days of fast sailing and vomiting (no
pictures of those days!) things calmed down and we enjoyed
nearly-tropical sailing...
Passing time with the boys - lots of playing "go farm"

Here, and above - how we sleep on passage

The dreaded calms

Here and below - waiting for the green flash at 40 degrees South

Juvenile wandering albatross
Lord knows where the nearest sailmaker might be.  So if you rip the
spinnaker, you gotta fix it yourself and then get it back up in the breeze
The boys think that burrowing under sails is the best thing about
living on a boat
And the chute back up in the sky, where it belongs
Actually, the spinnaker was one of the reasons this was such a good passage.  We've gone long stretches over the past year or two without using that sail - so much so that I started to wonder how "necessary" it really was.  But on this passage it was a game-changer.  We kept it up for days (and nights) at a time, and it kept us moving in the very light winds that we found at 40 degrees South at this time of year.

There's something so aesthetically pleasing about whispering along at five knots of boat speed in about eight knots of wind with just that big candy cane striped sail flying in the middle of the empty empty ocean.

And the corollary to flying the spinnaker so much was that we had no gales on this passage.  In all the weather forecasts we downloaded over the entire 24 day passage, we never saw any winds of 30 knots forecast anywhere near us.  A very welcome change from our much rougher New Zealand-Tahanea passage.

At sea too long

Here and below - what happens when "someone" forgets to make sure
the snatch block on the spinnaker sheet is closed
Amazing how much force those sails generate... 
Alisa Abookire, at-sea baking machine
Eric is still too young to really shine on passage, but Elias is really
coming into his own.  He's good company afloat or ashore…though
he tends to be grumpy some mornings.
I had all that moral advantage from the exploded
snatch block - and then I squandered it all by
blowing up the muffler.  This is the fix
Alisa, in the sunshine, on Christmas Day.  We cleared into Chile quickly,
we shopped, we (mostly she) did what needed to be done to engineer a
good Christmas for the boys…and now the bliss can kick in
So now, we have los canales of Patagonia just over the horizon.  We just need to do some boat work, and I need to write a science proposal, and in a few short weeks we should be heading south...


  1. Congrats Team Galactic. Great to hear your passage was a success and you are safely in South America.


  2. Welcome to 2015 (as Devon would say). Hope you get a chance to read our annual blog (I am now proudly doing two posts per year). Glad you made it to Chile in time for Christmas! We love reading about your adventures even tho' we rarely comment or reply. Wishing you all the best in 2015 and always thinking of you! We see little hints you may eventually sail on back into our Kodiak lives???? Take care, Pete, Heather, Marina and Devon

    1. Hey guys! Yes, Kodiak is in our future, we believe…and we're clearly closer to the end of this trip than we are to the beginning! And I'll have to check out that blog… Happy 2015.