Monday, July 12, 2010

June 26, 2010, 10:22 PDT

N 34°55.100’, W 134°38.224’

Ok, so I know that it has been quite a while since the last time I’ve made an entry here but things have been busy. Most of the time when Richard posts entries to the main blog, I’m at the helm and we really just want to get something up on the blog so that the map position will be updated. Not exactly the time for me to sit down and wax poetic about the journey rather than the destination being the adventure. But for those of you who do enjoy my ramblings, I have a surprise for you. Once we make landfall in Hilo, I will be posting my observations and commentaries on the journey and the lowdown on whether the journey and associated challenges really are more important than sitting on the beach with a tropical drink at the final destination. Look for that in the coming weeks and I look forward to your comments as well.

At this point in the passage, most of our daily routines have been ironed out which helps to structure our day. We alternate three hour watches throughout the day as someone has to be “awake” and behind the helm at all times. I say “awake” because it has happened that the person who is supposed to be awake has inadvertently fallen asleep at the helm. I won’t mention his name but he has a lot of frequent flyer miles if that helps narrow it down between the two crew members aboard Osprey.

During the evening hours, the person who is off watch usually catches up on sleep. And yes, your math is correct; at any given time, we only get a little less than three hours of continuous sleep. The first thing that has to be done after coming off of a watch is the log book has to be updated. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m an organization freak. Excel was a gift from God as far as I’m concerned. I put together a log that captures all of the relevant data for a watch such as miles logged, wind direction and speed, boat speed and velocity made good (VMG for you boaties), barometric pressure, etc. It also acts as a checklist for us to review boat systems while en route. For example, it would be a disaster if someone left the head sink running through the night and all of our drinking water went overboard. To prevent such a disaster, and any number of other boat-related disasters, the log asks the person making the entries if the water pressure switch is in the off position. This guarantees that we are monitoring all boat systems throughout the day to make sure that potential disasters don’t sneak up on us. And the fact that this is done eight times a day, at the end of each watch, is simply testament to my OCD taking over most aspects of my life!

Obviously, the person at the helm has the responsibility of making sure that the boat is heading on the right course as determined by both the crew through the use of electronic weather reports as well as emails from our “weather guy” who provides assistance every third day or so. We hired him as a back up to our review of the available weather information and our review of that data while en route. The helmsman also has to make sure that we don’t hit anything. We have radar, but it takes a lot of power to run it so the helmsman has to put himself on a schedule of turning the radar on from the standby mode to check the horizon and then switch the radar back to standby mode, thereby conserving power. During the day, radar isn’t needed as a visual scan of the horizon can usually alert the crew to “visitors”. We haven’t had much company out here, just a few tankers coming and going to various US ports (Los Angeles and San Francisco) and foreign ports of call (Yokohama, Japan). How do we know where these tankers are going? Good question! We have this clever device that tracks ship information that all cargo ships are required to carry when approaching US waters. The radar picks up the ship’s signal and specific information about the ship (length, beam, current course, speed, and destination) is displayed on the chartplotter at the helm. It’s a little more complicated than that, but I think this is a good overview of how it works (it’s called AIS for you non-boaties).

During the daytime watches, the person at the helm has the same responsibilities as at nighttime. We each fend for ourselves for breakfast and we’ve stocked an ample supply of quick and easy breakfast items that can easily be grabbed and prepared prior to going on deck to start a watch. I’m responsible for all lunches. Ever since we caught that tuna a few days ago, I’ve been making tuna salad sandwiches and trust me, once you’ve eaten tuna salad made with fresh, sushi-grade tuna, you may never go back to that stuff they sell in the cans! Lunch is typically always the same thing: sandwiches, chips, grapes, and a cookie (or two). On particularly cold, rainy, damp days (we started this adventure in the Pacific Northwest after all), I’ll attempt canned soup if it’s reasonable to do so. By that I mean, is the boat rocking back and forth in such a way that if I attempt to make something hot and liquid on the galley stove I may end up wearing it and possibly getting third degree burns? If the answer to that is, “Yes, it is,” then I’ll toss Richard a granola bar and say, “Sorry!” If it’s reasonable to make soup, then it’s made. After all, this isn’t a prison ship!

We’ve been sharing the responsibility of preparing dinners and let’s just say that it’s a good thing that we both like tuna and haven’t tired of it yet!

Off watches during the day are spent catching up on all the other activities that need to be attended to on a day to day basis…like personal hygiene, cleaning, preparing meals, baking bread, cookies, breakfast loaves, etc., blogging and journaling, weather report review and chart plotting. It could also include fishing and preparing your catch if you’re lucky that day, reading, taking pictures and video or just looking at the endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean, wondering where that albatross you just saw came from and what he’s looking for in the waves he skims over while in flight. And when you’ve run out of things to do, you can always do nothing or take a nap (my personal favorite!). We’ll try to get some pictures up of the day to day activities when we reach Hawai'i.

Speaking of albatrosses, our wildlife count if really low. All we’ve seen so far are black-footed albatrosses, an unidentified specie of ocean petrel, and the tuna we’re eating. Was hoping for some whales by now, especially the kind that don’t necessarily migrate close to shore (like Blue and Sperm whales). We’ll keep you posted.

And by the way, pictures like this don't take themselves. I actually had to climb the mast in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to check on our wind indicator which looked like it was about to fall off. Needless to say, the teeter-tottering from the top of the mast is no picnic and while I was happy to go up the mast, I was even happier to come down the mast.

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