08:17.010'S 105:03.006'W We are over halfway!!

Hamble Warrior
Jamie Hickman
Sun 16 Apr 2023 23:15

Day 26

Well so far today is beautiful! Bright blue skies, puffy white clouds and sunshine! More of this please! The wind and sea state is also playing along nicely; possibly not quite as much wind as we would like; somewhere between force 3 and 4 but pushing us in the right direction at about 5kts which is enough to turn out a decent day's run. I would describe the current sea state as "slight" which produces a gentle rolling motion but not hull-slappers and bombs (see yesterday's blog). My favourite barometer of the on-board conditions is if Meep's water bowl can retain any liquid in it; less than 2cms of liquid in his bowl and a wet floor is sea state "moderate" and upwards.

We are trolling a fishing line to see if anything is nibbling today. If we are successful it will be a fish supper tonight; otherwise we have a few sausages ("salchichas") left from the pack we opened for last night's dinner. The salchicha & mac-pie we had last night was a huge success. Having braved the galley to boil up pasta and molten cheese during the afternoon lull all we had to do was turn the oven on and add the salchichas and a tomato and wait for it all to bake. It was handy to have such an easy dinner ready to go as we spent about an hour tracking a rain squall around dinner time; not wanting to reef our sails unnecessarily but not wanting to get caught out either we stayed on deck and monitored the large black cloud with its long cape-like shadow of rain hanging below it as it skulked past us like a dementor from a Harry Potter tale. Once we were happy it had passed we put the oven on and made ourselves cosy down below with dinner and our Parks & Rec dvds!

We both seem to think it is chillier of an evening now. We can't be sure if that's what we should be expecting or not. It doesn't really make sense that it would be chillier so maybe it's just been the particular weather these last few evenings. There has been quite a bit of cloud around. Anyway it was chilly enough that being below decks with the oven on wasn't too uncomfortable (to be clear; it wasn't cold, just not "wring yer tits out sweaty")

After dinner Jamie was checking around on deck to make sure all was in order and nothing needed any attention before we turned in. I was below getting ready for bed when suddenly there was a loud slapping sound and Meep's eyes turned into two huge saucers. Jamie was flashing the torch around on deck and Meep jumped straight up into his hammock and disappeared out of the open hatch that allows him access under the upturned dinghy on deck. A moment later he reappeared with an enormous flying fish; still attempting to fly by the looks of his spread wings. Meep ran straight through the saloon to the back cabin where he jumped onto MY bunk and set about his catch! It seems this very unlucky flying fish had managed to throw itself not only onto our deck but through the very small gap between the dinghy and the coachroof... a gap too small for Meep to escape out of onto the deck but clearly big enough for an unlucky flying fish to slide under and Meep knew that was exactly what he'd done! Having already had flying fish for his dinner we took Meep's prey off of him; much to his disgust, and added it to his Tupperware of flying fish that we store in the fridge for him. Then I set about cleaning up the mess on my bunk. Interesting fact about flying fish; they have a LOT of rather sizeable scales. I am still finding them throughout the boat today!

Much as I was delighted to see that Meep's hunting instinct hasn't deserted him during our time at sea I am astounded how quickly he sought out and retrieved the flying fish whilst I noticed yesterday that we have a small crab living in the basin of the sink in our redundant forward head... about two feet away from Meep's litter tray! This little guy must have climbed up the drainpipe and when we shut the seacock (to seal the pipe and stop seawater back-filling into the sink in a seaway) he became trapped. Of course ideally I would evict the little guy but every time I got close he scuttled back down the plug hole out of reach. I am pretty sure Meep can't have spotted him yet otherwise he would almost certainly set himself up in a stake-out until he caught him. We get similar size crabs scuttling up the deck drains in the cockpit; particularly when I have been in the water cleaning the weed off the waterline that they like to inhabit. They run up the pipes that drain water out of the cockpit and Meep will lie in wait for hours watching the two drain holes and waiting for the crabs to appear. He makes a pretty disgusting spectacle of devouring them when he catches one. Anyone would think we didn't actually feed him at all!! Anyway "Mr. C" (not a very original name but I probably shouldn't get too attached as it will only end in tears) has so far escaped Meep's attention and seems to be quite happy with his arrangement of a free ride to French Polynesia even if he is traveling steerage!

So that's an update of our current crew situation; two humans, one cat (getting chonky), 3 fish (deceased) and one crab. We will have to offload some before we reach Hiva Oa as we only have an import permit for a cat!

The exciting news today is that we have just passed the waypoint we set to indicate the halfway mileage between Panama and the Marquesas. As of this moment we are now closer to the Marquesas than we are to Panama whoop whoop! And of course with our slow and tricky start getting past the doldrums then we are much more than halfway there in terms of days (we would hope anyway!) So to be over halfway now in terms of miles with a good weeks forecast ahead really is an exciting prospect!

It's funny how the time does seem to be passing. The thought of spending weeks on end at sea isn't always an attractive one but somehow the days do seem to be ticking past. We manage to keep ourselves entertained. Our reading lists which have been dictated by whatever looked interesting in book swaps for the last year or so; has kept our minds active. If I run out of stuff to put in here I might write a very brief book review of each of them to demonstrate what a weird and wonderful library it is at some stage; something for every taste.

In addition to reading; and re-watching Parks and Rec (we have all 12 seasons by the way!), we spend a lot of time looking at maps and pilot guides. Discussing routes for this circumnavigation. Discussing alternative routes we could have taken or might take in future. Places we would like to visit. Whether we can get to Munsey, Indiana, by boat... (only P&R fans will get this reference).

We receive daily emails from our family including a daily puzzle that my sister sets us to solve - usually an anagram; mostly a solvable one and only occasionally impossible to solve because she has mispelt the original word (feel free to ask her sometime what species exactly a "red-footed bootie" is!!) We get detailed football updates from Jamie's Dad giving us the latest results; league table, rumours on who might take over as Spurs manager and any other juicy stuff like controversial VARs and equally controversial "elbowings" of players by linesmen!! For the most part it makes pretty grim reading while we watch at a distance as Spurs' season unravels in true Spurs style but the match reports are very well written and give us something to talk about. The emails we get from both our parents and my sister are much appreciated and they are thoughtfully written to keep us up to date of all the news back home and keep our spirits up. We also receive a regular email from friends who set off the same day as us heading the same way. They have a larger; therefore faster, boat and more crew than us and even with an unscheduled refueling stopover in the Galapagos islands they are still likely a good 10 days ahead of us. They gained a good advantage on us during the calm days early on in the passage where they motored to keep moving whilst we wallowed. We have been exchanging emails every few days and comparing notes on weather; routing, fishing and the general state of both ship and crew. It has been fun to keep in touch and we are looking forward to catching up again over a well-earned drink when we finally reach the Marquesas. Last and by no means least we receive regular weather updates and general boat gossip by text message on our Garmin phone from sailing friends in both Greece and Antigua. These updates are a valuable supplement to the weather files we can download on-board and we appreciate the words of encouragement that accompany them from experienced sailing pals who know better than anyone what these oceans can throw at you. 

So we are very lucky to have plenty to talk about and to keep our minds busy. The days keep ticking by and each one is bringing us closer and closer to the luscious verdant shores of Hiva Oa and a very large rum!

Today's daily run is a very consistent with yesterday… 122nm. We are happy with that!

Hope you've all had a good weekend and have a wonderful week ahead.

PS: we ate the eggs we hardboiled yesterday for breakfast this morning so that's it - the eggs are finally all gone! Good riddance!