Not a breath of wind for 6 days. We just sat. Rain squalls brought cooling deck baths and seductive promises of a wind which never came. Tainui rolled and lurched in the swells, moving slowly west with the current. Under the watchful eye of red-tailed tropic birds we swam, counted pilot whales and spinner dolphins. Sleep was fitful. We swam and ate wastefully through our fresh foodstuffs, while I became progressively more depressed about El Nino and the prospect of any wind at all in the next month. We started catching rainwater.
I must say, there is nothing more dispiriting than sleeping for 4 hours then waking to find that the boat has moved less than 3 miles. We did see a sperm whale however, which helped more than somewhat.
We ran up a stunning 35 miles in the last 24 hours. After a grey and wet day today, trying to keep the boat moving in 3-5 knots of wind I have given up. We’re currently slopping about with no sail up and an irritating beam swell. At least there’s plenty of time for sleep. Which is not a bad thing.
In the galley Sonja is all bustling activity. She even uses the rolling pin. Our meals have been tasty, diverse and filling. With no prior experience Axel has been studying his ropework, learning what knot to do and what not to do. He is a fast learner (when he is awake!). Oh, and his Casa Rosada experience has him mixing some mean vodkas and orange.
Speaking of vodka, we ran out of limes, Tang and cordials a week out from Nuku Hiva. Axel drained the juice from some tinned fruit for my drinks, while Sonja made up this disgusting cocktail of vodka with strong black tea. A Swedish thing, I suppose. And me? – living in a sort of suspended animation, trying to keep the crew enthused and just hoping for some wind. The grib files suggest light and variables for the entire foreseeable future, thanks to fucking El Nino. Not a lot else to report.
Then, on Day 6 a light southerly breeze ruffled the water and slowly filled in. Soon we were broad reaching at 7 knots under light genoa and full main. How quickly the direst black mood gives way to elation.
Breeze at last!
That southerly stayed with us for 5 days as we romped west with roaring bow wave and renewed purpose. Each morning and evening, reefing kept us busy as the breeze freshened and veered. At night the southerly wind backed and dropped – progressively so with the passing days. The crew were happy, as was their ageing skipper.
I must still have a tiny residuum of competitive spirit left after all these years. On this trip down from the Galapagos I have been trying to better FitzRoy’s 140 mile daily average in Beagle. Our 6 day stall in that windless hole meant the end of that however.
Ultimately, consistent ESE winds established themselves and up went the reaching pole, which proved too short for the big light weather genoa. That genoa is having its first real airing for ages and it is a gem, if slightly baggy. With a couple of rolls, it is very happy up there even with a short pole.