Position Report on Wednesday 16th April 2014

The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Wed 16 Apr 2014 16:00

Position Report on Wednesday 16th April 2014 at 0800


10:03.7S 135:58.5W


So far, we've done 2,865 miles with 165 miles to go.  In the last 24 hours, we’ve done 160 miles.  We’re sailing at 5-6 knots in 6 foot seas, still heading on a course of 265 degrees and heading for Fatu Hiva.  It's another lovely sunny day and we're now getting very excited because as long as this wind continues, we'll be there TOMORROW!!!  Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


15 April 2014   Galapagos to Marquesas (Day 20)


I dragged myself out of bed at half past seven and staggered into the saloon to find Glenys kneading bread dough in the galley.  Nice to know that we're going to have fresh bread today.


So far, we've done 2,700 miles with only 330 miles to go.  In the last 24 hours, we’ve done 150 miles, so if we manage to keep up this pace, then we'll arrive in the afternoon of the 17th, which would be nice.  Otherwise, we might have to heave-to off Fatu Hiva for a night, which would be a tad frustrating.


There were 10 boats on the SSB net this morning, all doing fine and enjoying this very settled weather.  We had a quick straw poll of where each boat was making landfall - four (including us) are going to Fatu Hiva, four to Hiva Oa and two are going further on to  Nuka Hiva.


I was sat in the cockpit in the morning when I suddenly heard a large exhaling sound next to the boat. I whipped my head around and caught sight of a large black shape just off our starboard quarter.  It surfaced again about two boat lengths away and then disappeared.  It had a reasonably large fin, was bigger than a dolphin, so we think that it was some kind of Pilot Whale. 


Though fleeting, this is the first sign of life that we've seen for 20 days apart from a few sea birds, the four fish that we've caught and a few million Flying Fish of course.  This stretch of ocean is the most barren that we've sailed.  We were expecting to see pods of dolphin occasionally, but none have appeared so far - perhaps they're just shy.


So far, I seem to have been attracting huge fish to my fishing lures  - I've been using wire traces, so perhaps the smaller fish are spotting the thicker trace.  So I made up a blue squid lure with a 60lb translucent monofilament trace and put it out on my rod.  Unfortunately, I still didn't get a sniff of a bite all day.


The wind varied between 12 and 18 knots throughout the day, and also varied in direction slightly, so we had to gybe the genoa a few times.  Having the main held out to starboard with a preventer and the spinnaker pole fixed out to port is working very well for us.   If the wind comes from 90-135 degrees on our port side, then we pull the genoa to starboard on a broad reach.


But if the wind backs to 135-180 degrees on our port side, then the genoa (set to starboard) loses wind in the lee of the  mainsail.  So we simply pull the genoa out to port on the spinnaker pole and, in a wing-on-wing configuration, the genoa has clean air again. It's magic.  We even had the stay sail out to starboard as well for most of the day, which gave us a little more speed.


In an idle moment on my first night watch, I created a path on Google Earth, which shows our planned route across the Pacific from Galapagos to New Zealand.  When I'd finished, I zoomed out to show the whole planet and it's amazing how big the Pacific Ocean is - it almost covers one half of the Earth.  It's very humbling to think that we're crossing that huge expanse of water. 


We crossed longitude 135 degrees west, so I turned the clocks back during the night.  The Marquesas is on a very strange time zone of -9.5 hours, so the clocks went back 1-1/2 hours.  I came up with a cunning plan to adjust our night watches so that we each got an extra 45 minutes in bed.  Glenys struggled to understand my convoluted logic and she's suspicious that I've wangled 1-1/2 hours extra in bed just for myself - as if...


It was a lovely night again with a bright moon - one couldn't ask for nicer sailing conditions.  We kept all our sails out - full main, genoa poled out wing-on-wing and even the stay sail was deployed.  We're now on a mission to keep up our boat speed to make sure that we make landfall on the 17th.