A journalized account of our non-stop sail through the Windward Passage from Long Island, Bahamas to Port Antonio, Jamaica.
My A.M. shift ends at 7:00. I have been at the wheel since around 2:30am and have done my fair share of hand steering. Usually we just set Duane the Wind Vane and he steers for us. This frees up our bodies and minds. Having to hand steer takes a lot of mental fortitude. Looking ahead a the deep blue nothing, staying on course, occasionally fighting oncoming waves, staying awake…for hours.
Ren took over at 7:00am and I went straight back to bed. Before my morning nap I had slept one hour the previous night. My nap tacked on almost four additional hours of sleep. Usually we get eight to ten hours of sleep per night, uninterrupted. Change this healthy pattern to maybe five hours per twenty four hour period, not a consecutive five either. Five hours taken in one to two hour increments, not healthy. We are both extremely tired. The lethargy can be blamed partially on the oppressive sun.
I woke from my nap sweating. The waves have turned into a lake and the wind is non-existent. Not even a breath of it to dry my sweaty body. We have resigned ourselves to firing up the ol’ “Iron Jib.” We hate to do this because running the engine both wastes fuel and costs money. However, we cannot spend the day going nowhere either. I have a flight to catch from Montego Bay to Fort Lauderdale in a couple of days to try to hustle us some money teaching freediving. Also, let’s look at the numbers. Since we have left North Carolina we have only had to purchase fifty nine gallons of diesel. Fifty nine gallons and we run the engine whenever we need to. This means, we have not been exceptionally frugal with our fuel. Back home, Ren’s F-250 Ford diesel pickup held thirty eight gallons of fuel. He would burn a whole tank of fuel per week on average, running around town. This does not account for out of town trips, the diesel for his tractor, or the diesel for my car. Our little Perkins is nice and efficient. Today she will run to keep us on track. She is currently running 6.3 knots with some help from the mainsail and spinnaker with only one hundred and forty four nautical miles to go to get to Port Antonio.
The wind is so calm that we had to take down the spinnaker to keep it from flapping around. The engine is making sure that we maintain a respectable speed. Today is really going to affect our overall trip average which stinks because we made such great time the first couple of days. Besides the breathold tables and arm workout I will do later, when it is cooler, my goal is to dry out a bunch of my cold weather gear that got soaked during the more turbulent weather of the last couple of days. Nila Girl still has some leaks, a problem I am hoping we can completely eradicate this summer. When water leaks into the boat usually when we are heeled over pretty far or taking waves over the bow, it leaks mostly in the v-berth area. This means that our freshly laundered sheets and some of our clothes have become tainted with sea water. The tainted items will never dry. The salt in the sea water hold water in, keeping things feeling damp. I can hang the affected items out and get them crispy in the sun but there are still two problems:
1. Salty, crispy clothes itch.
2.When the items contact moisture again, even just the humidity, they feel as wet as when you first found them doused in saltwater.
We will have to rewash everything when we get to Jamaica.
A beautiful end to a beautifully calm day. We just ate supper in the cockpit under the nearly full moon. I seared up a piece of mahi for Ren and made a cold pasta and pea dish. My belly was craving something without a lot of seasoning and I wasn’t in the mood for any meat tonight. Oreo had fish and cheese.
Speaking of Oreo, his spirits were exceptionally high today, as were mine and Ren’s. Since the seas was so calm and the winds were down we had to run the engine through the entire day (it is actually still running now). This means that we had a calm day on the ocean. The kind of day where we were afforded the opportunity to accomplish some goals. I dried out all of the salt tainted clothes and bedding described before. Ren re-glued pieces of our dinghy that were causing air to leak. I made Banff Brownies, a recipe passed on to us from Banff on Pavana (see earlier blog entries for Banff description). The brownies are sugar free, for all of you athletes in training out there. Oreo walked all over the boat, going out on the gunnels anytime he wanted. We relaxed and enjoyed the calm. I was able to do another breathold table and stretching session today. My arms are really sore from the workout yesterday, I love the feeling of soreness earned through physical exertion. It is good for the mind to push the body to hurt.
We still have not seen anything notable in the water. No turtles, dolphins or anything, except the beautiful fish we caught. We are now only ninety eight miles from Jamaica. I am looking forward to exploring a strange new world. I am also looking forward to the trip back to Fort Lauderdale. It will be sobering to see some old friends again. I also look forward to the prospect of making a bit of money. It feels good to line the pockets with a bit of cash.