03:48.800'S 89:08.872'W The frustrating business of sailing

Hamble Warrior
Jamie Hickman
Fri 7 Apr 2023 22:56

Day 17

Yet another day of very light winds and yet another day when the wind doesn't blow from the direction it was forecasted to.

When yesterday's wind finally died off in the evening we dropped the sails and went to bed. It had been an exhausting day and we were both tired. We didn't even keep a watch on deck. There was nothing showing on AIS and we have seen no signs of other vessels for days now so we both took to our bunks.

This morning Jamie raised the sails again around 7am in light winds. Whether we have foul current against us again or just not enough wind Jamie needed to handsteer to keep us on any kind of course and to keep the sails full. He spent most of the day ghosting us along in this way; slowly, very slowly trying to claw back the 8nm of way that we had lost through the night.

With a flat calm sea and such light winds I was able to get on and sort a few jobs. I managed to dry all of the laundry from yesterday and air everything that had got damp during the many squalls. Having not seen our Red-footed Boobies for a couple of days now I finally took a bucket and brush and set about cleaning all of their poop off the bow. I also spent some time in the galley baking a couple of batches of biscuits for us to enjoy over Easter. There won't be any Easter eggs for us this year so I thought the biscuits would be a treat. They came out rather well; I tweaked the method I had used for the first batch a couple of days ago and think I have a winning formula now; a bit of a chewy centre - more like a cookie. Whilst we were in the San Blas Islands I had bought an apron from the Kuna ladies with a traditional "Mola" design on the front of it. I'd thought the design looked a bit like bunnies and so decided it was appropriate for doing my "Easter baking" in. I am attributing my success mostly to the lucky Kuna apron; I have never been very successful at baking in the past so it must be that! Who knew it would take me being surrounded by thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean to find my inner Domestic Goddess!!

Meep devoured his flying fish last night in a matter of minutes. He has been in the cockpit today on the lookout for more but no luck yet. However, when I look down into the still calm waters I see dozens of small and medium-sized Mahi Mahi. Those electric blue fins and bright orange tails are easy to spot even several metres below the surface. Maybe we should be fishing today but Jamie is far too occupied with the frustrating business of trying to keep the boat moving. We have launched the big blue "drifter" lightweight sail but even with that we are not making much progress. Jamie is concerned there is something slowing us down and even talked of getting in the water to look at the hull. We do seem to be very slow; even in 6 or 8kts of wind we are struggling to make much over 1kt of speed. Our wind instruments are; of course, not working (as usual) but we can feel there is wind and see it filling the sails, so we should be making better progress than this. Unless we still have a foul current.

Eventually we decided we did need to look under the boat and came up with a way to strap my underwater camera to an extendable pole and set it filming before lowering it into the water to take a video of the hull; rudder, prop and keel. The video revealed that there was nothing snagged under the boat; we aren't dragging anything along as has been the case previously where we snagged discarded fishing gear or that hideous bamboo mess that we snagged in the Dutch Antilles. All was clear under the boat. We could see a large growth of the gooseneck barnacles that notoriously grow on the hull in the Pacific and we seem to have a decent growth of these but that isn't enough to completely stop us which seems to be the case now. Neither is the current we are expecting to see here enough to completely stop us. Yet here we are; struggling to make any way. It is a frustrating mystery.

I took a brief break from writing the blog to help Jamie drop our drifter as we no longer had enough wind to fill it. Shortly afterwards we had half an hour or so of rain and managed to collect a few more litres to top up our cans. Fortunately it wasn't another squall; although we did pull out our headsail in the hope we might get a little wind with it but nothing much came. It's funny how many different types of rain you get out here. Yesterday's squalls turned everything around us grey; sea, sky and the falling rain all melted together like it had been drawn with a soft pencil. Today bright blue droplets of rain fell from a single dark cloud in an otherwise blue sky and landed on the deep blue ocean in such a way that it beaded on the smooth surface like tiny marbles rolling on a polished table top. It was a friendly rain today; just a little freshener, a simple "I'm not here to ruin your Friday night just top up your supplies" rain. Yesterday was much more of a menacing "I'm gonna make you wish you lived in a house" kinda rain. Anyway, when it stopped there was a beautiful pale rainbow on the horizon and the sun resumed it's duties once more. 

At 5pm we calculated the usual 5pm to 5pm daily run which came out at a new all-time low of -3nm meaning today's efforts have failed to recuperate the 8nm we lost overnight. Pretty grim. However, if we can just limp a little further we will be ready when the trade winds blow at the weekend and soon; I am sure, these slow days will be behind us and we will be romping towards French Polynesia with a stiff breeze up our stern!!!! In the meantime; it is Good Friday, we have biscuits, we have sunshine, we have each other and we have the whole Pacific Ocean to ourselves (or so it seems!) So much to be grateful for.

Wishing everyone a peaceful Easter weekend x