Loading Map

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Day 16, Happy Halfway

Thursday Noon

Lots to report today... First I'm glad to report we've made it to the halfway point, distance wise. We still have 1400 miles to go, but at least we only have 1400 miles to go not 2800 :-)

I think I may have finally found the (or at least the biggest) problem with the short wave radio antenna. This is the antenna we use to send and receive email as well as receive weather fax. It was receiving fine, but I was getting very slow email transmit speeds and the Ham Radio Net we check into was telling me my signal was very weak. I think the basis of the problem was the 12 gauge copper household wire I used as the antenna. It had a plastic covering on it (not the insulation, but a clear plastic coating over the insulation) that didn't hold up to the sun. It all flaked off recently but I think that compromised the water proof integrity of the connection and allowed corrosion, causing water to get in. I cut back the corroded part, added a better insulator to isolate the antenna from the stainless steel railing and 'voila' (*) much better radio operation.

Last night, right after sunset, I was on deck to do a horizon scan (we look for ships and anything dangerous every 15 minutes) when I spotted a very bright star in the North. I don't know of any really bright stars in that area so I looked at it for a few seconds to see if I could identify it. That's when I noticed it MOVING. I watched it for 5 minutes until it went behind the clouds and later confirmed with an operator on the Pacific Sea Farer's Net that it was either the International Space Station or a UFO in low earth orbit.

On the wildlife front, I have been surprised that we have had sea birds around the boat the entire trip. We are over 1000 miles to the nearest land. We've seen Tropic Birds, Masked Boobies, Brown Boobies, Petrels, and Shearwaters. Of course flying fish are landing on deck every night as well, much to Ziggy's pleasure, and last night for the first time this trip we had two squid, much to Ziggy's confusion. As always we don't let Ziggy eat the fish and squid if we can stop him, but last night he got out onto the side deck and was examining a squid to see if it was something he wanted for 5 minutes or so before I noticed it and threw the slimy thing over the side. Frankly, I'd rather have the wildlife we had on our 2009 passage from the Galapagos: whales, dolphins, pilot whales, and even one oceanic white tip shark. At least they don't sh*t on the boat or leave ink stains.

The water temp has been increasing over the last few days and with it the air temp and humidity. We are running the fans all the time to keep cool down below and are using much more electricity than we were at the beginning of the passage (higher humidity means more clouds so the solar doesn't work as well and higher temps means the fridge works harder). We're hoping for a break in the humidity south of the ITCZ, but really, 'Que sera, sera' (*).

Yesterday's position was in error. Je suis desole (*)

* Can you tell I'm studying French?

{GMST}8|10|N|126|34|W|Mexico to Marquesas Day 16|Day 16{GEND}