Thursday, November 3, 2011

10/26/2011 - Passage to Majuro

Sorry for the delay in posting... communications have been very difficult here.  Below is a post from our passage.  I'll follow up soon with our Halloween posts.

It was another windless passage, not entirely surprising to us, as we knew they would be “light.”  This one was different though in that we didn’t have enough diesel to motor the whole way.  We haven’t filled up since American Samoa and we’ve been motoring quite a bit, so this passage we had to save a little.  We flew the spinnaker in some of the lightest winds ever, making about 2.5 knots for a day’s average.  Talk about mundane.  Then we hit a storm that gave us some 25-30 knot winds and were able to make significant ground with just the jib out.  All the while, bucking a 2-3 knot current.  Jimmy Cornell’s passage making book (kind of the bible, if you will, for sailors) talks about a sporadic current, but for us, it has been extremely consistent for the last 500 miles.  Where we would normally make 5 – 6 knots under motor, we were only making 2.5 – 4.0. 

Out of 16 days at sea over the past 3 weeks, we’ve had about 4-5 good days of sailing, 9-10 days of flat calm, and one day of nothing but squalls.  That day was the last day.  After that first storm, and seeing how it moved us along pretty well, we started actually hoping for squalls so we could sail and cut the engines off.  Be careful what you wish for.  We never saw anything over 30 knots but on our last day, they were everywhere.  And the winds were coming from all different directions as well as the waves.  It was the only time I’ve ever actually seen a squall slow a boat down.  We were still motoring but with the current and the waves on our nose, we actually lost a knot or two with ever squall.  Finally, in the last 12 hours, even though we were still getting rain we finally started to move a bit more.  The bad part was the bucking back and forth.  We’ve certainly been in worse weather, but after days and days of no weather, it was a lot to get used to.

Despite the weather, moods were surprisingly high and it turned out to be a pretty good passage.  Cabin fever was kicking in for some of our shorter crew, so we believe we arrived in the nick of time. 

Without giving a day by day blow, here are some highlights of the passage:
  • Stopping to clean the prop.  We gained a complete knot just by knocking of some barnacles, all the while, boosting crew moral with a little swim in this stifling heat.
  • Science experiments.  We made boats from our trash and tested them in a bucket of saltwater.  We watched water evaporate (well not literally “watched) from a bowl of seawater to leave salt.  We made a rainwater measuring device to be used in Majuro to measure rainfall each day.
  • We caught another deep sea fish, this one with sticky goo all over it.  Andy said it was the nastiest stuff he had ever had on his hands and took forever to clean off.
  • Andy and Jake had one very long monopoly game where Jake learned the meaning of bankrupt and tycoon.
  • Trying to think of different ways to cook the same thing.  How many ways can you cook canned corn, canned mushrooms, canned beans, sundried tomatoes, canned tomatoes, onions, garlic?, chayote, and cheese?  If you throw in pasta, rice and the occasional homemade bread, you would be surprised.

Note the little boats we made...he's checking to see which ones float.
His tinfoil raft was the best.

 This last one was truly my job each day.  It’s about all we have left onboard and trying to make at least one interesting, remotely healthy meal a day was a challenge.  Now Jake and I don’t mind a few vegetarian meals, but the Captain, well, he’s a different story.  The first few days we were fine.  We had some pork and some frozen lobster from Tarawa.  But the last few days, the only meat we had to work with was some Chinese sausages, canned hotdogs, and  some other sausage he picked up in Tarawa – none of which were very appetizing to me.  We did have some frozen chicken and bacon, but they were deep under two layers of ice – not happening.  The best results were my pastas with creamy sauces, what’s not to love?  I do have to give another well deserved shout out for the vegetable chayote.  It goes by the name of cho-co in this part of the world.  In other parts I think it’s also called christophene.  This is the heartiest vegetable I have ever seen.  We bought a mess of it in Mexico but it had long been gone when I finally found some more in Samoa.  We bought about 15 of them for 2 tala (about a dollar) and it’s all I have left that’s fresh.  You peel it and it can be used in a number of ways.  You can cut it up and use it in a salad to add a crunch.  It can be added to stir fry or pasta.  It takes on the taste of whatever you’re cooking so it’s a very non intrusive ingredient.  I also have a great quickbread recipe that I make for breakfast sometimes using shredded chayote.  The list goes on and on…au’ gratin, fried chayote cakes, etc.  You can find them in most American grocery stores (at least on the west coast), and they’re fairly inexepensive.  They’re green and kind of prickly, sometimes sticky.  That’s why you have to peel them.  They also come in a white version but I have only seen those in Samoa.  If you’re looking for something new to try…  Ok, I’ve given more than enough time to our eating habits…moving on.

So here we are in Majuro.  We’re optimistic about what it has to offer.  Our guidebooks say there is a restaurant called Monica’s and another one called Savannah’s.  Surely there is something for us here.

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