Thursday, December 18, 2008

Day 14, December 16, Landfall!

We finally made it! We arrived on Tuesday afternoon, dropping anchor at about 5:30 pm. We had been running the engine almost non-stop for three days! Even with those great winds in the beginning, we still managed to use almost all of our fuel. Yikes! Yesterday, we spent all day with Customs, didn't even get the Port Captain out of the way yet. Two fellows came out to the boat and searched and asked lots of questions and took lots of pictures. They took some of our food, but I had pre-cooked
and tucked away most of the stuff they would have wanted. We did sacrifice some, just so that the customs fellows would feel like they were doing their job. We also had to take Hopper around to the vet right away, with the Customs agent. His rabies shot is good for another 2 years, and even though we have it documented that he has his 3 year shot, here, they need to have it every year. So, the Customs agent was very helpful and drove us around in his personal car to find a vet that could give
him his shot right away and issue the Health Certificate. It took three tries at different vets, but we found one. Poor Hopper, his first time off the boat for six weeks and it has to be to go get a shot! Today, we will finish up with Port Captain and get some laundry done and then maybe get Hopper in to the beach for some play time. We finished decorating the boat for Christmas, lights are up and ornaments are hung, Christmas tunes are in the CD player. We are not sure how long we will hang
out here, we may stay through Christmas and then move north for New Years, or we may leave a few days before that. We figure at least another 3-4 days here just to get a little caught up. Not many boats here, the locals are bummed. They all say that it is because of the economy in the states.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Day 12, December 14

We are still underway, but making much slower progress. We are about 170 miles south of our destination. Our winds died, and after the high of making such great mileage for the first several days, it is frustrating to now be only doing 60-70 mile days. We have been mostly motoring, but we turn off the engine whenever there is the slightest hint of a wind. The most wind that we have seen is about 25 knots and the highest seas were about 10 feet. Not so comfortable, but not scary or horrible by
any means. We still have lots of fresh food left on board, plus all of the canned food that Nancy has been hoarding for this passage. We are not sure if when we get to Mexico, they may confiscate all of our fresh meat, eggs and produce. It is a balancing game, to make it last to the end vs. using it all up ahead of time. Fletcher really wants to fish, but we told him no. We really need to eat the food that we have on board first! Hard call, but we will fish all the rest of the passages for
the next five months. We are hoping to arrive into Z-town Tuesday afternoon. Then, we will have a week to get ready for Christmas. All the presents are bought, we just need to wrap them up. Really, our Christmas present this year was the trip to the Galapagos and doing a family dive there. It is so calm today, maybe we will start decorating and putting the Christmas music on.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Day 9, December 11

Today is Nancy's birthday. Yesterday the kids and I made a cake, and the kids decorated it this morning. Our progress has slowed down a bit because of an adverse current that seems to be running at around 3 knots. We are moving fine through the water but not very fast over the sea floor. The winds are supposed to change direction later today and it should give us a better angle of attack. Yesterday afternoon we noticed that our compass and the GPS were not agreeing. I pulled out the spare GPS and
compass and compared them. Both of the GPS's agreed and both the compasses agreed but they didn't agree with each other. This was noticed around the same time that we got into this strong current that I didn't expect to see. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. When the stars came out, I steered towards the North star and the GPS said I was going West. I then figured that something had happened in the United States and the military messed up the GPS system so it could not be used for an attack.
My mind was racing and we couldn't receive any news. I went back to the old school method of navigation and disregarded what the GPS was telling me. When the morning rolled around the GPS and compass were back in agreement and everything seemed ok. Talk about a strange anomaly.

Yesterday we had our first sighting of a large pod of dolphins. We were all up on the bow, hooting and hollering. Hopper about fell off the boat and was squealing like a stuck pig. It was the highlight of our day. It was also pretty calm and we got through a day of school. For dinner, we finally had the last of that Mahi that Fletcher had caught.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day 7, December 9th

We have passed the halfway point and are scooting along. All day yesterday we had strong winds and confused seas which made it really uncomfortable. The good thing about it is we are logging 130-145 mile days. Any task takes considerable effort. Preparing a meal requires at least two people, one to make it and the other to hold things so they don't go flying across the boat. Days like this are spent just coping (laying down, reading, or watching movies.) We are still eating the Dorado that Fletcher
caught several days ago. It looks like we still have 4-5 meals left. Luckily, Dorado is a delicious fish and we are preparing it differently each time.

Everything that wasn't completely secured down is now on the floor. It will take us several days to put this boat back in order, but not until it calms down. Some sad news, last night our cat Sia died. Nancy has been nursing her since Ecuador and it looked like she was improving but she had a relapse several days ago. Today we will have a ceremony and have a burial at sea. Hopper, our dog, is doing fine. Although I'm sure he'd rather be on land where he can have some traction and not slide across
the floor every time a wave hits us. The kids think this is pretty funny. This morning the winds have settled down a bit and the seas are a little more regular and we are still holding around 6 knots of speed. If you look at a map, we are south of Huatulco, Mexico and west of Southern Costa Rica.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Day four, December 6

We have officially entered the ITCZ (inter-tropical convergence zone,)lost our winds and had some rain. This is typical for the ITCZ, where you often have confused seas, shifty winds and squally conditions. Luckily, the squalls are usually pretty quick, but they can stir up some immediate winds, so you really need to keep your eye out for the squalls approaching and reduce sail quickly. We will probably be in this zone for the next couple of days. The temperatures are warming up, we are out of
the cold Humbolt current that bathes the west coast of South American and the Galapagos. The water temps have risen about 10 degrees. This means the air temps go up too. The first couple of nights we were bundled up a bit, but now, warm weather clothes prevail on all watches. I think that we will take the blanket off the bed tonight and put it back in deep storage. Last night, around 1930(7:30pm,)Fletcher caught a really nice size bull Dorado, almost 5 feet. You should have heard the squeals,
whoops and yipees. Guess what we will be eating for the next several meals, much to Dana's dismay as she has decided that she does not like fish, even when it is as fresh as can be! All is well on board.

Our position as of 0600, 12-07 is N 05.43, W 94.30. We are just a bit over 800 miles to our destination, not quite halfway, but getting closer. I can't wait until we are past the half way point and can start counting down the days. Yesterday, we only made 101 miles, but anything close to 100 and we are happy. The next couple of days may be a little less, since we lost our winds.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Day three, December 5

Had another great day of sailing! Winds are from the south at about 15 knots. Swells are from the south too, at about 6 feet. We are currently at N 04'22, W 093'36. We made 136 miles. This old boat is scooting across this ocean! We have just a little over 900 more miles to our destination. We are suffering from lack of sleep, but it is manifesting in silliness, not nastiness. Nancy has taken to fits of giggles, while Mike has been making silly, goofy comments. Of course one probably leads
to the other, although, at times, we are not sure which came first.

Here is how our day goes... Nancy has been on watch from early morning through the sunrise. About 8am everyone starts to move and has breakfast. Nancy and Mike then try to get some sleep to catch up from the night watches. Then it is lunch time. Yesterday, we all showered after lunch. We had warm water from running the engine a bit. We showered outside on the edge of the boat. It was a beautiful day and very pleasant. It felt great to have clean hair and bodies. We then watched a movie before
dinner. After dinner, the kids did dishes, while Mike and Nancy tried to get a bit more sleep to ramp up for the next night watches. Dana has watch from 8-10pm, Fletcher takes the 10-12. Mike usually goes from 12-4am. Nancy takes over then. During watch we read, watch a movie, play computer games, listen to music, look at the stars, look at the sunrise, snack and just try to pass the time. What are we watching for? Ships passing in the night (we are so far out that there have not been any
for a couple of days,)if the engine is on, we check the gauges for temperature, oil pressure, etc... we pump the bilge hourly, and at 6am we get our position. If the swells lay down a bit, we will try to get some school done, but the past couple of days it has not been good for that.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Day two, December 4

We had another great day of sailing and motoring. It was a bit too rolly to get any school done, so we just chilled. The kids watched lots of Gilligan's Island episodes, one of Dana's favorites. We slept better the second day/night, getting more into the swing of being underway and weird sleep patterns. In the evening, we passed the last of the Galapagos Islands, Darwin. This will be our last land sighted until Mexico, about 1070 miles away! As of 0600 we are at N 2'30.500, W 92'20.396. We
have winds from the SW 10-12 knots, swells from the SW 3-6 ft. In the night we had some swells that were probably about 8 ft. We made 122 miles in the last 24 hours. We are eating well, so we are sitting fat and happy. We are looking forward to another good day of making way.