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Friday, June 19, 2009

Day 3, Plata to Galapagos

At the risk of jinxing it, we can't believe this has been such an easy passage so far - and we're still sailing! In the past 24 hours we covered another 91.5 miles towards our destination, with about 276 to go!

Just realized that I messed up the entry for Day 2's position - longitude should have been 84 degrees, not 824. Bet that looked pretty weird. And you should also know that John generally sends the Yotreps position out in the morning, but the blog entry is our 4 PM 24-hour position.

Here are some random passage notes I made on our way from Bahia to Isla de la Plata when it was too rough to get the computer out. We had all the Bahia dirt washed off the boat in our very first day, which made for very salty decks. We got some of that wiped off at Plata but things are still salty (the worst part is that it gets tracked below, including salty paw prints on the salon table). We had beautiful clear skies off of Manta, but it's been mostly overcast the rest of the time. Our last day at Plata the overcast burned off in time to take a swim before we left. We hoped the sea turtles would come investigate John scraping barnacles off the bottom, but no such luck even though I spotted several from the boat. The rangers were netting and tagging turtles as we left the bay.

Since it was too rough to juice the oranges (and they aren't eating oranges) we took advantage of nature's original juice box instead. The street vendors peel off the outer rind, leaving the white pith intact, but we just peel the area around one end of the orange, cut a small hole in the top, place mouth over hole, and begin to squeeze orange. Works great on Ecuadorian oranges, and the "box" gets tossed over the side when all the juice is gone.

When we're sailing hard and heeling to one side the faucet water "bends," which makes it tough to locate with your hands when your eyes are closed because you're washing your face with soap. On top of that we don't use pressure water (to conserve), so one foot is dedicated to pushing the foot pump and the other one is braced to keep from falling. Which makes it hard to do anything requiring both hands because then you have nothing to hang on with! And trying to move slowly and quietly so the off watch person can get some sleep is like going in slow motion through one of those old fun house rooms tilting in every direction (although at least the boat has lots of hand holds).

Here's how the wheel lock works to steer Nakia: Get boat and sail plan mostly ballanced, though a little lee-helm is best(lee-helm is when you have to turn the wheel up into the wind to keep the boat going straight), and lock the wheel. The boat then generally sails through 20-30 degrees; it drives the course for a few minutes, gradually luffs up 10-15 degrees (usually just a little bit without actually luffing the jib), then it slows down and the affect of the rudder diminishes, causing the boat to all back off the wind and back to the course. It will continue to fall off 10-15 degrees, and then it speeds up increasing the affect of the rudder causing the boat to come back up to the desired course. Repeat. Which is basically what the wind vane does, although ideally without the extremes at either end. John put the wind vane on yesterday afternoon and it's been steering ever since. It's much nicer than the wheel lock because it won't back wind the jib like the wheel lock sometimes does, so you don't have to baby sit it all the time. Now if only sailing to the Marquesas could be this easy!

News flash; we just saw an albatross. Given where we are that would make it a Waved Albatross (Phoebastria irrorata). It can have a wing span of 2.3 meters. That's seven and a half feet. Yes, they look that big.

Linda and John