Astra Blog: Galapagos to Marquesas (Part 3) 18.05.08 - 19.05.08
Astra Blog: Galapagos to Marquesas (Part 3) 18.05.08 – 19.05.08
We ran out of wind in the small hours so Jeremy disrupted the tranquility of his watch to wake Ash and get the sails down. They proceeded with the stealth of ninjas and, without waking Sally and George, had the mainsail away and the kite snuffed and dropped within a matter of minutes. This heralded the first bit of motoring since leaving the Galapagos.
Dawn illuminated very doldrums-like surroundings: thick cloud overhead, glossy ocean and less than 2 knots of breeze. Not ideal sailing conditions. It took all day for the wind to get up but fortunately the weather soon reverted to type with a near-cloudless blue sky.
Bread purchased in the Galapagos was coming to an end so George resumed his bread making rôle. As he was on “mother watch” he had a rather hectic couple of hours simultaneously preparing luncheon, baking the bread, taking his noon-sights and playing a game of Scrabble! Fresh rolls were a treat after the slightly stale, slightly overly-sweet sliced bread.
The wind filled in at 1700 so we were able to dispense with the motor (saving our fuel for important things like making ice) and get about 6 knots out of the mainsail and spinnaker.
The dorados must have heard the engine go off and witnessed the sails go up. Being aware that it is much harder for us to reel them in when we can’t just pull the throttle back they thought that this would be a good time to make a play for our lures. We hooked the first, a very large male, at 17:15 and after the now familiar routine of sweating, cursing, saying “this would be much easier with a harness”, and swapping the rod from person to person as arms ran out of energy, he was eventually brought alongside. Despite Jeremy’s expert tutelage, George was too slow with the gaff and, with a powerful swish of the tail, the fish unhooked itself before it was in striking distance. Disappointment reigned. While Ash got the lure back in the water, George engaged in a bit of forlorn-looking-out-to-sea. He was nigh on inconsolable for at least three minutes until the lines started whirring again. This time both reels were dispatching their line in unison. It was an amazing sight: we had clearly hooked another two mahi mahi and looking back to where our lures were we could see fish leaping high into the air. Dorados travel in small groups; we could not decide whether this was other members of the group jumping to get in on the perceived feeding frenzy or whether they were distressed at their friends’ new found facial piercings. In either case, we were not overly concerned: we had a fish on each line.
If “Pink Fluffy II” and “Jet Head” initially looked alluring, these fish had clearly had a change of appetite as they were doing their best to break free. They were fighters but, with the aid of a swiftly dropped spinnaker, we had them both on board and beheaded by 1725. Enjoying calm conditions, George set to filleting the first one on the aft deck. He had almost finished when the very dead and very headless fish in the bucket behind him gave him something of a shock by thrashing around and slapping him in the back. It seems unfair that it’s headless chickens that get all the attention; headless fish can certainly move too. Ash subdued the offending fish by filleting it. We are getting quicker at filleting with every fish, and it was not long before they were filleted, skinned and on ice, and we soon had the spinnaker flying again, making a comfortable 7 knots.
For dinner George made a mahi mahi cerviche followed by (more) mahi mahi in a tomato sauce with roasted vegetables. Mouth-watering stuff.
Jeremy became quite excited later in the evening when the radar appeared to show another vessel about 15 miles away. It looked quite large on the radar screen so he was surprised that it did not have AIS. This prompted thoughts that it was a military vessel. The plot thickened when Jeremy radioed the vessel and received no response. Inspection by means of the binoculars showed a rather nasty looking rain cloud on the bearing of the “vessel”. Clearly this squall did not have its VHF radio turned on!
Jeremy has now got into a daily routine of listening into the Pacific radio nets on the SSB. As well as gaining useful information about the plight of other boats in windless seas it has also enabled us to find our nearest neighbours. Two yachts, Adventure and Strummer (www.yachtstrummer.co.uk) are within 50 miles and we hope to be able to be in radar, VHF, and maybe even waving distance over the next couple of days.
We knew that sometime in the early evening we would be passing the half way point and we thought that it might be nice to have something other than mahi mahi for dinner. With this end in mind we released the “Wahoo Slayer”. We are considering changing the name from “Wahoo Slayer” to “Miniature Drogue” as so far it hasn’t helped us slay an We knew that sometime in the early evening we would be passing the half way point and we thought that it might be nice to have something other than mahi mahi for dinner. With this end in mind we released the “Wahoo Slayer”. We are considering changing the name from “Wahoo Slayer” to “Miniature Drogue” as so far it hasn’t helped us slay anything.
Lunch was scrambled eggs and smoked salmon: bloody marvelous!
Another success for the sextant: we took sights in the morning and afternoon and were able get our position down pretty accurately. The longitude was pretty much spot on (something that we haven’t managed with our noon sights) but unfortunately the latitude was a little off. As our noon sights have given our latitude quite precisely, we are hoping to get a near perfect fix over the next few days.
As nice as it would have been to have caught a wahoo, we did have an adequate replacement in a lovely pork fillet. Sally swapped mother watch with Jeremy in order that she could cook the celebratory half way meal. We hit the half way point (1481 Nm) at 17:32 and opened a bottle of bubbly to mark the occasion. This gave us plenty of time to ‘get into the spirit of things’ before having an outstanding meal (pork fillet in a tomato and green and red pepper sauce, cauliflower cheese and roast potatoes) at about 21:00. Just as we were polishing this off the organized entertainment arrived: a couple of dolphins started to splash around next to the cockpit. As we stood up they led us up to the bow to meet their friends. At 6 knots we were just about fast enough to provide them with some amusement and they stayed and performed for us for about half an hour. If this didn’t round the day off perfectly then the addition of treacle pudding and homemade custard certainly did!