In the Doldrums

Fri 7 Mar 2014 21:17
05:39.05N 80:09.46W

So far the Pacific is living up to it's name and being very pacified... Most of the time it's a smooth quicksilver gently moving carpet. The swell is hardly perceptible, and the little wind we have causes intricate patterns of ripples to run over it. It's mind boggling to consider that there's about 3 1/2 kilometers of ocean beneath us - there's just so much of the stuff, and fascinating to see how such a large body of water moves and responds. Every now and again there's a "noisy bit". We came across these first at night and I didn't know what was happening. All of a sudden, out of the stillness that's barely disturbed by the noise of us creeping along, comes the building sound of wind on water, of chop and slap. I expected a gust to meet us, but the wind stays low throughout. In the day you can see the confused sea all around you - it looks like the overfalls off Portland Bill, or sometimes not as big as that, just like icing on a Christmas cake that someone's forked over, then, after 10 or 15 minutes, we're through it and back in still water, you hear the noise of it drop behind.

We've had long spells of hardly any wind and we've been becalmed. We just pull the sails into the center line and drift a while, waiting for some wind to come back again. Not much else one can do and no point in motoring, unless it's to dodge the big ships coming to and from the Panama Canal. When it's really still the visibility at night drops right off; it's disconcerting to hear container ships before you can see them... thank goodness for AIS, a system that shows big ships on our electronic charts, and shows us on theirs.

"Don't say there's nothing to do in the Doldrums..." Except for the drifting bits, when time seems to sit still, it all seems quite busy:

There's quite a lot of actual sailing to do with the wind coming and going, and changing direction. We've been using our light weight sails, including our beautiful cruising chute, with it's rainbow of colours and huge Cornish chough in the center.

Then there are the visitors to attend to - the dolphins came back at night in the phosphorescence: unbelievably beautiful. Imagine a dolphin outlined in stars, leaving a comet's trail behind him in the water so you can see every beat of his tail, every twist, turn and glide. Then add more of them, all interacting together, crossing paths so their trails intertwine, making sudden u-turns, popping down under the boat and coming up the other side in an explosion of green blue sparks. I watched transfixed. A turtle came by, on his steady way, head down, brown shell up, not sure where he's going but certain to arrive some day. A huge pod of spinner dolphins crossed behind us, spray turning the water white all around them as they leap and spun in the air. An amazingly energetic way to travel. Another pod of common dolphins came in a more purposeful way; their sturdier, stronger looking bodies arching into the air as they leapt, forming waves as they followed each other coming up for air every few minutes. We've had some sea birds come to check us out but we were surprised to see a Peregine Falcon come to rest a while on our spreader.

There's also the domestics to do, of course, cooking and tidying, all that stuff. Sorry Jemma and Becky, I've not been telling you our passage food. Here's so far:

Day 1: Chicken (frozen in our rather temperamental freezer) with capers, tomatoes and black olives, served with solar oven cooked beetroot, potatoes and christophene.

Day 2: Fruit salad of papaya, banana, passion fruit and melon with home made yoghurt; avocado, tomato, ham and basil sandwich; Haystacks. These are an invention of Sarah on Fieldtrip. Basically they're tortilla chips, with a layer of beans and beef, cheese, then salad topped with guacamole.

Day 3: Bacon and eggs; Tuna (yes, we're still eating it!) Caesar salad; and we're going to have chicken curry for supper.

We were a little over a week in Las Perlas, so it's been a week and a half since we've been able to buy anything except limes. The fruit and veg is holding up well.

So we may be in the doldrums but there's certainly plenty to do!

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