Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Days 4-5

Well, we weren't able to stop at Socorro Island. We arrived in the middle of the night, and it was too dark to approach for anchoring, and Dennis did not want to heave to. We were a bit disappointed to miss a peek at this world class dive destination. But there is a big advantage to not stopping, and that is to take advantage of the nice winds we are experiencing.
These coastal winds are forecasted to die by Thursday, and we won't arrive at the NE tradewinds before then. Interesting -- we are nearly 700 nautical miles from land, and yet we still have to go another 150 miles or so to reach the tradewinds!
Another interesting thing about the weather is how inconsistently the winds blow, especially at night. During last night's watch, I saw anywhere from 7 to 18 knots of wind, with such variations occurring as little as 5 minutes apart. This makes it a challenge to use our windvane, as it needs to be reset with large changes in wind strength (or even small changes in direction). Fortunately, Evergreen is equipped with a hydraulic rudder, which makes it easy to use as a trim tab, to compensate for shifts in wind strength.
Although we have not seen any other shipping for the past 3 days, it doesn't feel very lonely out here, as we are checking in with three different HF radio nets. There are more than a dozen boats on their way from Puerto Vallarta or Los Cabos to the Marquesas that are checking into the Puddle Jump net each evening. We were surprised to find that one of them, Pericles, is only about 20 miles behind us (he had been anchored at Socorro and left a few hours after we passed it by). He is close enough that we can communicate by VHF radio (channel 16). The other boats are all at least 200 miles away.
Sea life is pretty sparse so far -- we have had no hits on our fishing gear since the blue marlin strike a few days ago. Yesterday, a pair of spinner dolphins executed a synchronized leap off our port bow, which almost made me wonder if they had escaped from Sea World!
Bird life has been mostly boobies, with the odd tropicbird, shearwater, or petrel thrown in. It's not completely accurate to say that we have caught no fish, because every morning we find one or two tiny flying fish that have landed on the deck during the night.
We're all pretty much adjusted to the constant motion, although sleep is sometimes interrupted by a particularly hard roll to port (we're on a starboard tack). We have been sailing with a reef in the main the entire time, in combination with the 140% genoa, the staysail, or both. This morning, the wind shifted slightly from N toward NE, so we have poled out the genoa wing and wing.

The sea is a beautiful cobalt blue, and if you look over the side, the rays of the sun shimmer down into the depths. It is a delight to be here!

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