Saturday, 28 May 2016

Crossing the Equator

In a few hours, we'll be crossing the equator ... this will make my 3rd crossing and Larry's 5th! So we know that there'll be no Special Effects - apart from the small amount of liquor we'll pour in to appease the god/goddess of the Sea. Neptune/Neptuna has been very gracious to us so far on this trip and we want to keep him/her happy - but now we are disagreeing about whether the libation should be rum or gin. I'm for rum but Larry says it will be gin (I think because we have more of it).

On my first trip across the line - bound for New Zealand (December 2004) our autopilot angle sensor broke and Larry was headfirst in the bowels of the equipment room fixing it while I hand-steered for a number of hours. Anyone who has been on John and Amanda's 'Mahina Tiare' training cruises will no doubt scoff at this - Mahina is hand-steered for each and every passage - and these two super-sailors manage about 20,000 nm a year. There are about 6 paying crew members so with 8 people taking shifts steering, the work and fatigue are considerably reduced.

The strain of our 24-hr watch system caught up with me this week. A maximum of 4 CONSECUTIVE hours of sleep takes a toll over time. It had been incredibly hot (30C outside and 35 inside!) We had been watching for the Intertropical Convergence (known as 'the doldrums') to come along. This necessitated some special monitoring of the wind speed and direction. Because of the changes which take place in this zone (the wind has completely changed direction and is now coming from ahead) the motion was exceptionally awful. It was the 24th day of our trip - and I lazily heated a frozen pizza - that's only happened twice now. Larry saw my exhaustion and kindly took over my watch at 8pm. I awoke with a start at 2a.m. with that ominous feeling you get when you oversleep.

Some people in little boats do turn in for the night. After not seeing any ships for many days, Larry saw two on Thursday night. He was alerted by our GPS. Some software on this gadget responds to signals sent out from large commercial vessels. It predicts the Closest Point of Approach of the vessel and also the name, nationality, port of leaving and outbound port, size and speed of the vessel. The instrument rings an alarm if there's any danger of a collision. The first ship he saw was a Korean fishing vessel - the 'Won Dong'. Larry could barely make out the lights on the horizon and it was obviously no threat. So why aren't we sleeping every night for at least 8 hours?

That very same night, Larry was outside and noticed a sailboat headed towards us. It did have lights (a red port light and a strobe light on the mast) but when he called on the radio there was no response. So other people do rely on the various electronic devices to alert them if needed. We are not among them. Even though there's very little chance of actually running into someone out here, we feel committed to the idea of keeping a watch and checking our sails and the surrounding ocean for any changes and possible dangers. Of course, solo sailors have no choice but to sleep when they need to ... but we feel that if (at least) we on Traversay maintain a constant watch, we can avert any danger for both the vessels.

We are now about halfway on our trip. Larry is mulling over the weather maps and forecasts to determine which of two alternate courses we should follow and he has a few days to decide. The motion at this point is just beautiful and we are sailing quickly and efficiently. Now (at 0630) I'm going out to watch the stars fade into the gradually increasing rosy light of dawn.

At 5/28/2016 16:47 (utc) our position was 00°38.52'N 154°03.11'W

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