Passage to the Marquesas: Days 9-12

Sunday afternoon it became clear that I had moved the clocks the wrong way – much to Richard’s delight – so we had to adjust them again. The new boat time is now an hour back from the Galápagos time zone so is -7 UTC / -8 UK. I’m not sure I’m going to live this down for a long time. You can imagine the insults ringing in my ears! ‘Call yourself a navigator….’ Anyway…it worked….and our overnight shifts now coincide with the sun going down and rising again. Looking at the world clock the Marquesas have a few time zones from 3 to 4 hours behind the Galápagos – so it makes sense (now) that the clocks move back as we get closer. Doh!!! Sunday (Day 9) was probably our best sailing of this passage so far. The wind was perfect at 15 knots and we were on a broad reach – so we were able to power across the swell – and clocked 7-8 knots for much of the afternoon. And it was lovely and sunny too! By the evening the wind died back to around 6-8 knots and there really wasn’t enough breeze to hold the main – and we hate the noise of it constantly collapsing – so we ended up running downwind on genoa alone overnight. It appears to be a diurnal pattern now that we have escaped from the ‘dodgy weather’ area unscathed so will be interesting if this trend continues going forward. Monday morning (Day 10) and the wind was still lightish but Richard pulled out the main anyway just before he went off shift and then left me to make it work. Not impressed! Oh yes and more barbs about the time zone. This is going to get old pretty quickly. You would have thought a grovelling apology and a really lovely steak dinner Sunday night would have got me off the hook eh?!? Anyway…I set the sails…changed our course to a broad reach – away from our rhumb line out of necessity – and our speed improved. Richard seemed pleased when he woke up and I must have been forgiven as he actually cooked breakfast! The wind filled in mid morning and we were sailing well again on a beam reach running parallel with our rhumb line. We had covered 135 miles over the previous 24 hours so we were pretty pleased with our progress. But there is a long way to go yet….. Oh yes – when we went to the Southampton boat show last September to consider satellite systems we were advised not to buy the Iridium Go! unit as it was too slow to be useful. We were told that a satellite phone was a much better / reliable option particularly if we wanted to make any voice calls. This was from the salesman on the stand. We were unsure so came away empty handed to do more research. Eventually we purchased the Iridium Go! anyway as it appeared to offer the most value (particularly with its unlimited data package) and on Monday would you believe it, over 1k miles from the Galápagos and 2k miles from Panama I managed to have a chat with my mum on the iPhone. Absolutely amazing! We had a lovely afternoon on Monday, followed by dinner and sunset, and we reefed down for the night. The wind was light and variable in both speed and direction so it was a frustrating night of sail changes and patterns to even manage 3-4 knots boat speed! With hindsight we should have deployed the pole overnight but at 6pm we still had 12 knots of breeze so didn’t seem like we needed it. Tuesday (Day 11) and the wind picked up again… we pulled all the sails out as the sun rose behind us. It was a lovely day with bright blue skies, dark blue seas and wispy white clouds rolling through – plus 12 knots and reasonably flat seas – just perfect! And that’s how it stayed all day although the wind was a bit fickle seeming to come through in waves so, one minute, we are hurtling along at 7+ knots and the next at 4 knots. But we are doing better than our target of 5 knots average so who cares!?! We are aware of a weather front south of us coming through with strong winds so we are trying to remain as close to our rhumb line as possible. During the night the wind continued to come through in waves with the range 8-16 knots and the direction South-South East so lots of course corrections were made to keep us moving. This morning, Wednesday (Day 12) and there wasn’t a sunrise (again) as it was cloudy and grey all around. There are some pretty menacing clouds south of us so it appears the forecast was right. We are running downwind under a reefed main and full genoa and have winds up to 20 knots. And we’re flying…. Long may it continue. The autopilot has developed a grinding sound from the direct drive unit so we have concerns over that – to put it under less pressure we have changed the response rate so it ‘hunts’ less frequently. Richard has just been in the lazarette and noticed that the glassed-in shelf is flexing whilst we are underway so it is possible that the autopilot ends up slightly out of alignment as a result. He has put some screws in to hold it steady and the noise has reduced – so fingers crossed this temporary fix will hold until we reach landfall. We are 1425 miles into this passage now…..only another 1575 to go! Bye for now Jan