Bumps, bread and books - Passage to Gambier 23:07S 134:58W

Pacific Bliss
Colin Price
Sun 22 May 2011 19:24

Passage from Galapagos to Gambier

We are to travel south from the equator to the island archipeligo of Gambier lying on the tropic of Capricorn.  Why?  Beacuse it is the path less travelled.. Hadn't done much more research than that!

You get Sunshine, soaring temperatures and a Royal wedding, we get this........ No, we really are no longer smug.........

Having had a very unsuccessful birthday in Galapagos we finally pulled up the anchor at 6pm that day and headed into the sun set on our next big adventure. It felt good to be going and it was only made possible because Colin blagged enough amber nectar to fill 4 jerry jugs (90 litres). We had stopped off in Isabella to purchase fuel but the island was dry and the fuel supply boat appeared to be lost at sea. The jerry's would let us motor full pelt for 4 days if we had too.  Our new best friends on the super kind Mega yacht, or rather our new benifactor, told us it was a 'present' due to the fact they'd burn this amount in 1 minute. We've revised our feelings about the    se gas guzzlers and now thing they're called ' Mega's' cos there uba generous.

Our last few sailing experiences have been such a joy, I for one was really looking forward to getting underway and falling into our peaceful passage making days and nights. This all took shape as expected for the first 48 hours then things started to change!

 Rollers doing what they do best - rolling in.

The sea built, the wind built, the boat started to get bashed this way and that, each 24 hours just got more and more uncomfortable, Colin and I became a little more fretful and the kids seemed a little more peeved due to toys not staying where they'd been put and Cosmo was band from having his much enjoyed pee's 'over side'.

It has to be said this is the most uncomfortable sailing we have ever experienced. and joy of joys it's going to be the longest too. Thank god we know we have a strong, safe, boat. The only thing is someone one somewhere told us Cats don't rock n roll, this might be true to an extent but the yawing about is ferocious. So add waves crashing over the boat, through the hulls and under the boat it all makes for an incredibly noisy and uncomfortable ride.

So due to the noise Colin and I are not exactly getting any quality R&R, Incredibly we're holding it together, just.  Colin spends most of his night watch calculating and then recalculation using another mathematical theory trying like stink to loose some miles and hours left at sea. The kids are totally unawares of any concerns and they have now decided they rather like the bouncy waves. With hoots of laughter when an enormous wave engulfs us, and when the bows hit a wave and causes the boat to lurch 30degrees in a different direction, well that's super exciting, ahhhhhhh.

Domestically we doing really well, although conditions don't give rise to much cleaning. Colin and I in our nievity thought we would get load of cleaning jobs done on route, but all we seem to have done is accumulate more filth. We are now donned with a rather attractive layer of flyingfish scales over the decks and secreted in open lockers we continue to find very stiff stinking stowaways, they're exterior layers are now finding there way into our interior, which is giving rise to a rather delicious odor. Each night we are besieged by armies of flying fish who take a wrong turn when they see a large white plastic square powers towards them. Some morning I'm wondering if Colin hasn't been sleeping with a Mermaid into his berth given the state of the sheets. Todate our highest kill rate over one night has reached 25, but these buggers are huge and if we hadn't spend part of the early hour e-stalking friends, hence being inside, one or other of us would have sustained a serious head injury if we had had a direct strike. The smaller cousins of these Flying fish have attached themselves to our windows, rather like windscreen kill on a hot summers eve at home, only these guys look distinctly like small dead angels (which doesn't help with ones Karma). This coupled with scales and 2cm thick salt cake totally obscues the view of sea, sea and more bloody sea.

These aren't the only animals life to appear on our long trek south (did I say it's getting colder each day, as we head into winter) Now that it's day 14 our fresh food stock is very much depleted, infact we left 1 week later than we had expected so the fresh produce we had purchased at, Harrods food hall prices, was already starting to ebb towards a rotting state. So 2 days ago much to Cosmo's distain we cracked into the Split peas. This time we discovered an invasion of giant weevils. We have become accustomed to these little critters, but there's nothering petit about this lot. So sifting we shall do, well actually hand picked through, they'd never fit through the holes in a sieve, and some might even fattiest might struggle with a collander. Lunch is obviously delayed by some hours and just when your sure you have removed all the offending life form you discover a very good protein source floating on the top of the boiling cooking fluid.  As grouse as this might seem it's just as well as neptune hasn't been very generous only suppling us with a meesly 2lb Skip-Jack. This removal of Killer bugs seems to have been a bit of a of a pre-occupation for us over the past month. Whilst in Galapagos I dug out the only dried goods not to be vacuum pack once aboard and pre squirreling away. So we discovered that our gazillion lbs of rice had given rise a scene resembling the black and white minstrel show. Unlike most normal folk we decided not to ditch the lot but pick through it,(I can spend hundreds of £ on sunglasses but can't ditch what probably amounted to £20 worth of rice, where is the logic in that) this took 2 weeks of back breaking hand picking murder, having squashed more than my fare share of tiny wriggling young weevils in the form of Maggots we vacpaked and removed the offending produce from sight. Strangely I've not put rice on the menu for some time!

Despite the unsettling conditions none of us are suffering from sea-sickness so on our one ring that is able to tether a pan we have been cooking up a storm. All you have to do is straddle yourself between the work top and the gas ring, mindful of the stair drop off afew inches to your right. With the aid of Ottotengi never have a dull moment at the lunch table is had, especially 'cos the plates never seem to stay anchored for the whole duration. After my numerous disasters as a baker, Colin begins to fashion himself as the Mid-night baker, to all our delight we awake to the smells of sweet raisin bread cooling straight from the oven. It's a great joy for me waking a 3am to take over my watch, all I have to do is look at the GMT clock which reads 9am and then make a pot of coffee, slather a slice of warm fruit bread with demi-salt have a quick look out for boat and settle down to a quiet read, not everything is worst at sea.............

We've now been at sea for 16 days and we haven't seen any other human life form , ie boat.  I'm not spending too much time considering why? Last night we had a rather hideous moment when the auto pilot started to scream at us with a brand new set of failure alarms. It was 'sea talk' a system that all of our controls have built in to them and when one fails they all seem to shut down. so for about 1 1/2 hrs I was at the helm and colin was reading a manual and jiggling a few connections. We hadn't got a bloody clue, but the realisation of hand steering, especially in these conditions, for the next 800nm quietly left both of us rather alarmed.

Easter lunch   Steak and roast pototoes, beans and baked aubergine.  Pretty good.  Note windswpet hair-do

Without a doubt the most arduous part of any day for the whole 20 months at sea has been School, most folk abandon this during passage making, but oh not us. Dispite not being able to develop hand writing skills we have been able to get on with Xtables, telling the time, reading and general problem solving. Infact today Z is so used to the conditions that she wrote the longest story she has ever attempted. Extreme School, they say reading out loud stimulates the brain, suspect reading out load whilst being tossed about must increases the grey matter activity. We're all looking forward to a desert island holiday.

School dispite it's difficulties does infact give a bit of structure and stimulus during the long days. Fishing has been deemed near on impossible, and on the occasions we've been traveling slow enough to throw the hook in we've been fruitless only a religiously at 4pm fish alarm rings and we attempt to haul our catch..... however slowing the boat quickly and effectively has been an impossibility and much to Colins indignation all we seem to land is a bent hook leaving some poor Fish with a very sore mouth. Thank god for the over loaded Freezer.

With each mile we heading south there are increasing issues about warmth, this coupled with the howling wind has illiminated any time spent outside so our well developed all over tans are now a thing of the past. My usual perch whilst on watch is at the helm, but it's so bloody cold and windy there is no way either of us would sit ourselves out there. so we resort to popping your head around the corner towards the bows every 10 or so mins.  We are fundamentally buried in the saloon with our snouts in our Kindles (electronic books).

This all sound like a massive tirade of moans and growns (and it is) but both of us have been terrible careful about not expressing the fact we're not having any fun.  For some reason this facade seems to have dropped today. I think we feel we're able to breath a little and the bumps and crashes whilst feeling normal now are now attaching us in the form of horrific dream patterns.  We,re on the big count down and as a result we are feeling like we are able to laugh abit about it all. 2 days ago we started to read about our chosen destinations. "Oh dear!", not the actual word we used, sailing tourettes is alive and living on this passage. So Gambier and the tuamotous is not looking very inviting, 'cold, rainy, super hard to navigate, actually dangerous and unfriendly locals, no supplies'. But, hey, I'd be glad to be getting in to down town Pompy on a Lairey Saturday night in February.  The one good source on the horizon is we will get our chops round some subsidised French bread, that will make traveling 1/8 of the world around the world in 20 days through 4time zones and to be exact 3002nm  worth every tooth grind.

  Land Ho ! !

Just when we thought we were safe to relax the last 24 hours where probably the worst, I woke at one stage with every muscle in my body tensed and moments later me and the mattress lifted in to the air, this was beyond hideous, but heaving too wasn't a option as we had to get in to port because a near cyclone weather system was pending and we needed to be in a safe hole....... but it wasn't..........