Location: Underway to the Marquesas
Last night we passed the 1000nm mark on our passage from the Galapagos to the Marquesas Islands. Though we have been at sea for nearly two weeks now, the thing people on land call time has a totally new meaning. I frequently have no idea what day of the week or month it is… not that “TGIF” means anything when we are closer to the International Space Station than we are to land. However, we do have an extremely planned out day, which is not the normal “day/night” schedule that most people are used to outside of sailing passages. We can be up from midnight-4am then asleep until mid-day. There is no real reset button for a new day besides the meals, as we are constantly using our four-hour watch rotations as markers for when we should be doing what.
All this being said, this new (well now not so new) time schedule, in addition to having minimal internet distractions, and a physical barrier of 112ft of solid steel, allows for the opportunity to delve into certain topics, books, or skills, that you would otherwise never have time to learn. Recently, Bryant, Meg, Tim, and Ian have been practicing the age-old art of celestial navigation, much to the curiosity of a few astrologically keen crew members, myself included. My romantic visions of taking sun sights at the stern of Argo, well machined sextant in hand, wind blowing through the hair, feeling like Jack Aubrey from Master and Commander, were totally dashed as I clumsily attempted to line the mirror up with the sun as the boat rolled with the waves and knocked me around, while simultaneously nearly burning my eyes out as I tried to look at the sun through a telescope with no shade over the lens! When I finally managed to get a halfway decent measurement with the sextant, I then reached my favorite portion of the “Jack’s nautical ego bashing”… the math! I am, as they say, not a numbers man. So, when Ian very clearly and thoroughly walked me through the math portion of the reading, he may as well have been teaching a potato… Nevertheless, I am keen on getting more comfortable with the sums.
Around the boat, both students and staff alike have been getting into some very interesting learning. The dive master team has been working steadily towards the culmination of their course, as have the Yachtmaster team. In marine biology, we were all moved by a documentary called “Chasing Coral”. As its title suggests, the beautifully shot documentary tells the story of a group of diver/videographer/coral nerds that attempt to spread awareness of coral bleaching, due to high sea temperatures, which has killed about 30% of the world’s coral. Though the documentary sounds morbidly bleak, it is both beautiful and educational. 10/10 would recommend watching it.
If watch team one is particularly lucky, Ian (our chief mate and engineer) gleefully indulges us in readings from the bible of boat electronics and mechanical maintenance (aka the driest book since 1987). Meg has masterfully led marlinspike seamanship classes that consist of back splicing, long and short splicing, eye splicing, and crown knots. I may very well soon turn into my mom, bringing some three strand rope and a fid with me in the car, plane (or general social setting that definitely does not require such activities) as she does with her knitting needles and yarn.
As we sneak ever closer to our French Polynesian destination of Nuku Hiva, the anticipation of getting to land and seeing such beautiful locations is running wild throughout the boat. Nevertheless, I think we are all thoroughly enjoying the routine of passage life, from getting pelted with salt water at midships for showers, to the ridiculous conversations we have on watch – some fascinating, hilarious, scary, or invoking serious food cravings! We’ll all make the most of what we have left on the trip… it’s not every day you are so far from civilization.
Tonight is the first night of motoring in over a week, marking the end of an awesome streak of pure sailing.
‘Til next time,
Pictured: Watch Team One group photo after our 8am-12pm watch this morning (ft. Ian front and center); Tim teaching sailing tips with Amanda looking very photogenic at the helm!; and the tools of the trade: a sextant and a bunch of numbers that apparently tell you where your boat is.