Location: Underway to Fiji
Today dawned bright and early as Watch Team 2 saw a beautiful sunrise accompanied by a glimpse of land! On our way through French Polynesian waters, we saw the island of Fatu-Hiva, at a distance of about 20 nautical miles. It was a faint outline in the morning clouds, and some wondered if it was just a mirage, but it was certainly a great milestone for us all to know that we have covered enough water to see an island again. After about an hour, the hazy sight faded into the distance, and we were back to seeing water, water everywhere. A few people were really excited to see land; others wanted to pretend like it wasn’t there so they could go on with our continuous ocean voyage. My watch team, watch team 3, took the deck at 8 am and had a “high achieving morning,” as Tim likes to call it. The area we are entering is known for light winds and variable conditions, so we want to sail with the first reef in the mainsail. Sounds simple enough, but it actually has a lot of steps to accomplish that goal. First, we dropped the flying jib and the jib. For each, we have to go out on the bowsprit to flake and lash the sail to the sprit until we need it again. Don’t worry, moms and dads; we double tether when we are out there, so we are always clipped in even when we are adjusting our position. Next, we centerlined the forward staysail and the main staysail. Each of those has a preventer, so there are 2 teams of people working together to safely centerline them. Next, we struck the running backstay. Finally, we turned into the wind and dropped the main entirely; This involves many moving pieces: taking up slack on the topping lift, easing the preventer, taking in on the sheet, easing the jigger, easing the topping lift to get the boom into the gallows, taking in on the downhaul, easing the halyard, tending the reefing lines, flaking the sail. Need I go on? It’s a fun but complicated process. Then we set up the tack line, tightened the reefing line, and rigged the earring to keep the reefed portion of the sail down as we prepared to raise the main again. This involves basically the same process described above but in reverse. Yes, we ended up taking a brief break for lunch and cleanup and then got right back to it, finally finishing the whole process at 15:00. Watch team 3, and I joked that it was the longest watch ever because we barely stopped moving from 0800 to 1500. But all of these big sail handling days are so much fun, and we learn a lot each time we practice it.
After a slight delay to finish all of our sail handling, we had our regularly scheduled afternoon classes. First, we had seamanship with Elle, where the students got their second to the last opportunity to practice for NavMaster in class before the exam next Sunday. It will be a big achievement for all when they accomplish that certification. We’ve been pushing hard to finish as much class as possible before we arrive in Fiji, so we then had Marine Biology to finish up our 3rd unit. In this unit, we learned about coral reefs, coastal and open oceans, the deep sea, and polar seas. I especially love this unit because we get to talk about adorable, scary, wacky, and wild animals that live in these various ecosystems.
We had 2 delicious meals today prepared by Riley and his galley crew, and we are going into the evening watch rotation with happy, full bellies. It must be almost time for another time change because it’s after 6 pm and the sun hasn’t even come close to setting yet. But we are looking forward to sunset and some beautiful stars since there is just the tiniest sliver of a moon right now. We hope everyone at home is happy and healthy, and we look forward to the last couple of weeks of the longest passage that Seamester has ever done.
Argo at sunrise
Watch Team 2 excited to have spotted land
Watch Team 3 at sunset