Monday, March 28, 2016

(no subject)

After Geeves's abandonment of autopilot duties our schedule has changed somewhat, we not only find that hand steering the boat during the day in winds of 20-25kts is quite tiring but at night it is a real challenge. We had hoped that the bright moon would provide us some visual reference from which to steer but not only is the moon not rising until late the skies are pretty much clouded over. By midnight we are usually exhausted and starting to make mistakes or not being able to steer a true course so we have taken to heaving-to until the moon provides some benefit and we have caught up on some sleep. This does however mean that we are losing valuable progress towards our destination and will add several days to our crossing time. Pretty much as soon as we crossed over the 4 degrees latitude mark and into the ITCZ we saw our first ominous looking cloud system that stretched across the horizon. I had a look at the radar and sure enough it showed up as a dense red strip some 12 miles long and 4 miles wide. We decided to try and track around it but it moved too fast. Within an hour we were in some of the heaviest rain I have seen and winds steady at 30kts gusting to 40kts. The seas built quickly and were white with streaks and crests. We ran with the wind on our quarter with barely a handkerchief of head sail out and were doing 8 knots. We had put the boards in the companion way in case we had any breaking waves and we were glad we had as we several times we had water over our beam and stern. During this chaos I saw a pod of dolphins leaping high into the air, clearly enjoying the chaos. All this lasted about an hour and a half after which we were exhausted and it was dark so we decided to heave-to again and check the radar for any further approaching systems overnight.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

(no subject)

Day 12 into our Journey. The good news is that we are just past the half way mark! and the bad news is that Geeves, our autopilot gave up three days ago so now we have to hand steer the Sarita the rest of the way, this means 1 hour on 1 hour off shifts 24 hrs a day for the next 10-12 days. Geeves failed after steering us through a 3 day gale with 15-20ft waves and 35knot sustained winds, driving rain and confused seas. I think it was all too much for him. All is well though and we are making progress to our destination where i can assure you I will be looking forward to a Gin and Tonic and a good nights sleep. Thanks to all in La Cruz who are trying to find us a replacement Geeves (Simrad AP20).

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

(no subject)

Its a long way to the Taco stand.

Its been over six days since we left Mexico and we have traveled 800 nautical miles, not as many as we had hoped for but the winds have been quite light but on the bright side its been an extremely relaxing crossing so far. When I look at our position on the world map our little dot in the middle of the Ocean looks really quite insignificant, nothing for hundreds even thousands of miles. We unanimously agreed today that it does not feel like over 6 days since we left but more like 3 days and we passed the 1/4 way mark.

You would think that you would get pretty tired of looking at the ocean each day but its surprisingly captivating. Every day seems to be different in some way: The colour of the water changes, the waves and their effect on the boat, the small amount of wildlife but each day is punctuated with something special. On our first night we had 14 squid throw themselves on deck along with a number of flying fish. This morning we had three stowaways sitting on the solar panels, not sure what birds they were but maybe a boobie variety.

The sailing has been fun and is challenging me to get the best boat speed and direction from the light winds. We hauled out the spinnaker this morning and it was great to be moving along effortlessly in light winds. The spinnaker pole was used to keep the genoa from flogging but its a dangerous thing to set and take down in a swell, being so heavy.

The girls are doing very well Katya has been doing her schoolwork and reading and Amber has been helping us sail and reading. Jude, as ever, has been making sure we are all extremely well fed and enduring the 3am-5am night watch. Signing off for now.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

(no subject)

Thursday 17th March. Position 16 degrees 18 minutes North 111 degrees 14 minutes west. Approx 440 miles covered. The winds died down to below five knots on Wednesday afternoon so we ran the engine for a few hours and took the sails down to prevent them flogging against the rigging. We floated about overnight rolling from one side to another as the swells passed us by waiting for the winds to pick up. By 9am in the morning the winds picked up to just over 5 knots allowing us to get going again. We had covered just over 5 miles overnight pulled along by the current. The winds died again and the seas became glassy so it was back to waiting around for winds. We spotted turtles slowly swimming by and were lucky enough to see a juvenile turtle and a leatherback turtle. Dolphins swam and performed around the boat in waters that are infeasible blue and clear, so much so that the dolphins look like they are swimming through air. Despite the light air today the past few days have been wonderful and great way to start the journey.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Passage update

We departed La Cruz Mexico at midday on the 14th March, raising the sails shortly after leaving and pointed Sarita towards the Marquesas islands, 2700 nautical miles away. The winds were in a perfect direction for us to sail out of the bay on a beam reach making over 8 knots with a bit of current to help us along. Now, two days after leaving, we have covered just over three hundred miles and the sight, sounds and smells of land well behind us. The conditions have been absolutely perfect with calm seas that will enable our stomachs to get used to the movement. Jude has been preparing delicious meals and we have been getting as much sleep as we need. All is well onboard.

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Adios Mejico. Te amamos!

Eric and Meagan
We cannot believe that it has been 16 months since we first arrived in Mexico and over that time our opinion of the country has changed significantly. The stories of crime and the unscrupulous I am sure exist but we have met nothing but lovely, friendly, fun-loving people on our travels who will go out of their way to help you. The countryside that we have seen is spectacular, from the arid desert landscapes of the Baja peninsula to the spectacular high mountains of the interior and back down to the tropical jungles of the mainland coast.

Kids science club on the dock
We could definitely stay here in Mexico longer and explore more of the southern and interior parts of this country but we have to depart on our epic adventure across the Pacific Ocean to Australia. I know that when we leave we will all shed a tear for the wonderful people we have met, both cruisers and locals. We have formed relationships that will last over the years and hope that many of these people will visit us in Australia or we might bump into them in another foreign port.

Kids Club smoothie making for the orphanage
The Pacific calling

Drying the fruit and veg after steralizing
Our final preparations for the crossing are complete. We have purchased enough food that should last us many months and every conceivable space of the boat is crammed with provisions. The task of provisioning, which is thankfully Jude’s responsibility, is a challenging one. How can you buy enough provisions to take you through the Pacific islands without going off? What items do you place space priority on? What items can you buy along the way and are they even financially viable? What is the best way to store the items to maximize their life-span. We only have limited space and even more limited fridge and freezer space so these decisions are important. We have garnered advice from seasoned cruisers and reading other cruisers blogs who have gone before us and we believe we have enough provisions to last us but you always want more.
A small part of our provisions

So we have checked out of Mexico with the officials from immigration and Customs boarding Sarita, stamping passports and checking the boat with dogs for drugs and stowaways. It was a painless task and the complete opposite of crossing the border into our out of the US. These people are human!

Now we are just watching the weather for departure out of the bay. The 2700 nautical mile journey is made up of 4 major legs, the first being the leg from Banderas bay to the NE trade winds. Winds are predicted to be light, somewhere in the 7-10 knot range on the beam so we will probably be flying the spinnaker until the winds exceed 10 knots. The second leg runs through the northern equator trade winds and we hope these are in the 15-20 knot range but as we near the equator we expect clouds and squalls to develop with possible thunder storms. The next leg is the tricky one and that is choosing a place to cross the ITCZ, inter tropical convergence zone, sometimes known as the doldrums which is an area potentially light winds and squalls. If we are lucky we might be able to motor across this section in a day but some boats have known to have taken 5 days. As we cross the equator we move into the 4 leg which sees the winds shifting to the south east and will hopefully take us to our first destination, the Marquesas islands, which are some of the remotest islands in the world. 

Our approximate route

We hope to provide short position reports as we cross but as this has to be done with a primitive short-wave radio and some clever technology they might be sporadic. You should be able to track our position as we cross by clicking the “where are we” link at the top right of the home page.