About 100nm off the coast of Southern Mexico: We are definitely in the tropics now- every day we seem to shed more layers of clothing. Now are down to shirts and shorts all day long- even at night.
Some crew is now sleeping on deck at night- it’s simply too hot and sweaty below, despite the wind scoops we have put up to funnel water through the hulls…
We are rationing our water as we may not be able to replenish for 2 more weeks until we get to Galapagos. No rain is forecast, thus, our allowance is only 1.2 litres per person per day, which is tough given the heat.
But being in the warmth of the tropics again does have its benefits. On Sunday we met up with our sister ship, Hine Moana. We turned into the wind, dropped the sails and all went for a swim in the ocean. Nothing around us, except ocean and sky, and 3000 m of seawater below.
We then ate a beautiful salad lunch, served by our chef, Lole.
Other notable events in the past few days include seeing a small insectivorous bat flying around the va’a as we ate breakfast yesterday. It was obviously blown off-course and, sadly, with limited chances of survival.
Last night the sky lit up briefly as a huge shooting star entered the atmosphere above us. It was as if we were under a huge spotlight. Amazing.
At 7am today we broke our fishing draught as we caught a 3m long sailfish! Jayde says it’s because she and Charlie kissed the lures early this morning; and then the dolphins lured the sailfish to the hook. As I write, the crew are preparing sashimi and oka, filleting the fish. I am sure that Lole will find ways to make this fish last as long as possible, even though we have run out of ice.
I should describe our daily schedule a bit. We have 3 shifts or “watches” on board. Each watch is composed of 4 to 5 crew. And we do 3hr “rolling watches”, that is 3 hrs on, then 6 hrs off, then 3 hrs on - day and night.
So, for example, my watch, which includes John, our watch captain and master fisherman, Robbie, Natasha, Brynne and me, was on watch from 9pm to midnight. Then we had a break till 9am, and were on until noon. Another break. Then we’re on again from 6pm to 9pm tonight and so on.
The main tasks of the watches are to steer the va’a, keep a look out for hazards such as other vessels, trim the sails and tack if necessary and plot our position on the map.
Every day the 6am to 9am watch scrubs the decks and cleans the solar panels. The watch on duty after every meal washes the dishes and cleans up the deck area. We all take turns helping Lole prepare the meals - although he must take full credit for the “design” of each meal.
If you are getting the idea that food is an important part of the voyage- you would be correct. We relish our meals: roasts, soups, curries, chillies, omelettes, even cakes. These meals are vital for morale. They make us feel spoilt and make up for other things we miss on board.
Although we all eat heartily most of us are not putting on any weight- steering the va’a takes a lot of energy!
So, the days here pass something like this: go on watch, eat, have a nap, wash with seawater, read, go on watch, nap, eat, or various combinations of the above in different order.
Every 12.30pm we get a briefing from Captain Nick on current weather conditions, any concerns, for example, changes in the sail plan and so on. And then it is story time- each crew takes it in turns to tell a story.
We also learn new Samoan songs that we will sing at ports of call. Most of us spend the hot afternoon hours trying to avoid the blistering sun.
The days pass by and we forget which day it is. Our whole world is 22m long and 6.5m wide. Luckily we all get on with each other - most of the time, anyway. Inevitably there are occasional differences in opinion and words are spoken, but in a world this small where everyone relies on each other there is no room for long-term grievances.
Morale remains high despite the heat, the light winds and the slow going. It’s time now to eat some fresh sashimi and oka.
Alofa tele to all from James and the Gaualofa crew