Z E N I T U D E
Blue Water Dreaming
At Sea - Galapagos to Marquesas - The Big Jump (3,000 miles)
Passage - 02 to 21 May 2010
Day 1 - 02/05 - (00.57.82S-90.57.84W)
We left Isabela, Galapagos at 9.00 AM with no wind and calm seas, a bit disturbing to start the trip burning fuel. We were able to get enough fuel in Galapagos to leave with all our fuel reserves full to the top, which is 200 liters in the tanks plus an extra 425 liters in jugs. This is enough fuel to do about 1,300 miles at 4.5 miles/hour. With this in mind, we were happily motoring in SE direction in search of wind. We are in full El NiŮo year and one of the concerns is lack of good winds in this part of the world, however everybody was reporting good winds ahead of us.
Not long after leaving Isabela, we see a group of pilot whales swimming past us in the opposite direction.
In this first day we joined the Penguin net, set up watch schedule and started to settle into crossing mood. As we are a crew of 3, we agreed in a watch schedule with 3 hour watch and 6 hours rest.
Day 2 - 03/05 - (01.32.67S-93.11.01W) - 139 miles on day 1
Now the winds are light, variable at 8 to 10 kn from the ESE. Weíve been motorsailing for most of the time. Tried lots of different settings in the sails but there is no enough wind, we lost the favorable current that helped average 5.7 miles/hour the previous day. We are heading SW and we are probably still under the influence of the ITCZ, we are hoping for better winds in southern latitudes.
No matter how far from land, always a bird would pay us a visit
Day 3 - 04/05 - (01.59.40S-95.09.89W) - 122 miles on day 2
We are sailing now in 15kn of wind. It seems we have lost the favorable current but at least we are not burning fuel. The winds have been mixed, same with the seas, a bit bumpy at times. Weíve been sailing with main and jinnaker, then main and jib as the wind picked up. We are still not too far from Galapagos and once in a while we can see fishermen boats around.
Day 6 - 07/05 - (03.30.07S-102.48.37W) - 179 miles on day 5
Yesterday we averaged 7.4 miles/hour, this is the best average ever (except in the Gulf Stream current). Winds are now 18-20 ESE, not the perfect direction but we are sailing well with full main and jib. The seas continue to be sloppy.
We are now into a good routine. Watches during the day are relaxed. Oscar is the cook and he tries to have dinner ready early. My watch goes from 9.00PM to midnight, then Oscar takes over from midnight to 3.00 AM, Murray from 3.00 AM to 6.00 AM when Iím supposed to come back until 9.00 AM. Except that Murray never wakes me up and I get some extra time sleep, so Iím really having an easier time with the guys doing most of the work.
Day 8 - 09/05 - (04.12.00S-107.02.00W) - 125 miles on day 7
We had nice winds ESE at 20kn, but now the wind is picking up 20 to 25kn and we have just main sail on second reef. Weíve done 1,000 miles, 1/3 of the way. We are still waiting for the relaxing pacific sailing, will it ever come?. Forecast not promising.
In the penguin net, ahead of us somebody reports seeing a cargo ship. We havenít seen any ships since the vicinity of Galapagos. We know that not far behind us is Sea Fury, a sailboat reporting on the net as well. She seems to be catching up with us.
So far the only company we have are sea birds. Every night a sea bird flies around Zenitude. He seems to follow our lights, sometimes he disappears, sometimes he comes back, but he is there all night long, every night.
Day 9 - 10/05 - (04.38.34S-109.41.81W) - 162 miles on day 8
Winds ESE at 20 to 25 getting stronger and seas getting higher. We havenít touch the sails and are sailing fast with just main at second reef.
Day 10 - 11/05 - (04.53.88S-112.39.05W) - 178 miles on day 9
Winds continue strong and seas are now high at 12 feet.0 We keep going at a good speed and there is no need to touch the sails. Boats ahead of us report lots of squalls but we havenít had any squalls so far. We are approaching fast our 1/2 trip mark.
Every night for the past days cooking has been a challenge, it seems to get bumpier at dinner time, we usually have a glass of wine at dinner and one of us is the official bottle holder. No accidents so far.
Day 13 - 14/05 - (05.32.00S-121.19.14W) - 170 miles on day 12
Conditions deteriorated again, high winds and choppy seas, the swell is not too big but the interval is short. Winds again at 25 to 28 kn, ESE and we continue without touching sails, still with only main sail on second reef. Poor Zenitude is like in a never ending epileptic attack with swells from SW, wind from ESE and current from NE to SW, not a good combination. We havenít seen a drop of rain yet and with the waves and the spray Zenitude has a salty crust all over. But we are definitely not complaining for lack of squalls. Ahead of us some boats had a hard night changing sails with squall after squall. We are still in radio contact with Sea Fury now ahead of us.
Day 14 - 15/05 - (05.48.20S-124.11.46W) - 173 miles on day 13
Nothing has changed. At least we are covering lots of miles fast, we have reached the 2,000 miles mark. We are really tired of the tough conditions, no will to do anything unless is absolutely necessary, I just feel like laying down and dreaming of calm seas.
Day 15 - 16/05 - (06.38.68S-126.50.15S) - 166 miles on day 14
The winds have eased a bit, ESE 20 to 24 kn but the seas are still high. We are really on count down now, 744 miles to go.
Some of the boats on the net are starting to arrive to Fatu Hiva. Weíve been trying to decide if we go there first or straight to Hiva Oa. We heard many beautiful things about Fatu Hiva but it is not a port of entry, so you can get a fine by going there first. The problem is, it is the first island on the way and it is a hard sail back against the wind from Hiva Oa, the official port of entry. But the decision was made for us, Barry, from Toroa, having arrived there first told us we didnít have a choice, we canít miss this amazing island, even if we have to pay a fine, which is unlike it.
Day 16 - 17/05 - (07.20.27S-129.18.14W) - 153 miles on day 15
Same conditions as yesterday, ESE 20 to 22 kn, seas diminishing. We feel more relaxed.
Sea Fury has decided to go to Hiva Oa first. Her course is now different from ours and we start drifting apart. We have gotten used to their company and the frequent VHF chat. We were closed to each other for about a week in this vast ocean but we havenít actually met. So, we see them go and we know we will met them somewhere along the way, following the ímilky runí.
Day 17 - 18/05 - (07.59.00S-131.37.00W) - 143 miles on day 16
Conditions have definitely calmed down. Winds are now from the E 15 to 18, hard to keep course though with the wind right on the back, but Zenitude is happily adding the miles, we are less than 500 miles to destination.
Day 19 - 20/05 - (09.23.58S-135.47.39W) - 127 miles on day 18
Most of the boats in the net have either arrived or are arriving today and we have just 1 more day to go. It is a nice day today, it is calm and we are with full sails again but going slow.
It is 8.00 AM, just 76 miles to go and winds have died. We are still trying to arrive early so that we can enter the anchorage before dark. When the wind picks up to 15 kn we get some hope but it is really hopeless.
Fatu Hiva is a high island and all of the sudden there she is, just before dusk, we can see land. What a site after 19 days at sea, but soon nightfall comes and we are still about 10 miles away.
We have adjusted our watches and around 10.00 PM local time we are finally at the entrance of Bay of Virgins in Fatu Hiva, and yes we can hail Peter from Joule in our VHF, soon we are talking to Tutatis and Toroa, they say we can make it safely in and they will come in the dingy to help us anchor. We turned around the island towards the bay, what a beautiful night, we can see the lights of the boats at anchor and soon, following the dingy that came for us, we are at anchor, engines off, no wind, so quiet, what a feeling.
Day 20 - 21/05 - (10.00.00S-137.33.00W) - 110 miles on day 19
Day 4 - 05/05 - (02.23.48S-97.11.27W) - 124 miles on day 3
Today is not very different from yesterday, except that winds have veered SE and the seas are bumpier, we are still waiting for the comfortable Pacific passage with long and smooth waves and fair winds. Instead we get a swell from the SW and choppy confused seas. Still, we are in good spirits. Oscar is happy with the fuel consumption, mainly just needed to charge batteries during the night.
Sea Fury in the horizon
Sea Fury with Roger on deck
Zenitude riding the waves
Banging, banging ... On second reef for days Ö.
Reception committee: Ze, Sandra, Barry and Maryanne with Murray
Celebration cigar, bought in Cuba specially for this ocassion
Wonderful moment, all is quiet
Day 5 - 06/05 - (02.57.13S-99.52.07W) - 164 miles on day 4
The wind has picked up considerably to 20 kn from the SE and we are sailing very fast (around 8kn, 9 to 10 in the water). There is a current at 150 degrees course of about 2 kn. We are in a 250 degrees course with reduced sails to 2nd reef for the night, still going well at 6 miles/hour.
There are about 10 boats reporting twice on the Penguin net and we are one of the last ones in the route, so we have a pretty good idea of conditions ahead of us. There had been some boats reporting squalls and everybody (except one at the head of the pack) is reporting miserably bumpy seas.
Day 7 - 08/05 - (03.52.72S-104.58.50W) - 132 miles on day 6
The wind is there but the direction is not so good, exactly on our back. Weíve completed a week and Oscar is very happy with the little fuel consumption so far. Forecast shows winds will pick up so we decide to top up the fuel tanks while is still not so bumpy. With Murrayís help Oscar fills up the tanks from the fuel jugs. A bit messy but we have full tanks again. Iím just overlooking that nobody goes overboard.
Fishing has been a disappointment so far. Nothing to report except the squids jumping during the night. If we were to collect them from the deck before the sun goes up we could have a good fettuccini marinara. Somebody needs to do the rounds every morning around deck and collect them together with all the flying fish dead on deck. But of course, this is only done when there is somebody else on watch.
Day 11 - 12/05 - (05.01.28S-115.36.00W) - 177 miles on day 10 -
Conditions today are worse than yesterday, but Zenitude is handling well the swells and the wind which have gone up to a steady 30 kn. We continue to sail fast without touching our sails, main on second reef, no jib. We wonder if we should reef down to third for the night. Once in a while a big wave comes sideways which can be dangerous but Zenitude and her autopilot are coping well. We completed 1,500 miles so far. We are 1/2 way to destination.
Sea Fury catch up with us and we stayed in VHF radio contact. Amazing, with just ocean all around for so many miles to see a very small white sail in the horizon behind us.
Day 12 - 13/05 - (05.14.73S-118.29.70W) -174 miles on day 11
Another 174 miles and a bit better conditions that in the previous day with the winds down to around 22 kn. Sea Fury gets closer and we managed to take nice pictures of each other. There is a new boat on the net, they left Galapagos from San Cristobal, they are a day or two behind us. It all deteriorated again during the night.
Day 18 - 19/05 - (08.37.09S-133.47.63W) - 139 miles on day 17
It is a nice day, finally, winds are E 10 to 12. The navigation software now shows a real number of hours to destination rather than the depressing constant 99 hours (our Raymarine software canít show 3 digits number for time to destination) so we are really counting down. A new nagging feeling is starting to surface, it seems we are going to make it there just at nightfall, which means a whole night of hanging around if we canít make it to the anchorage in the dark. So the question remains, should we slow down to time arrival at dawn or should we keep going as fast as we can and risk it to get there at dusk? We are pretty much in the mood of arriving so it is too soon to slow down.