Sailing Through the Doldrums

Passage Notes


The same day we left Isla Floreana we passed through a rain shower that produced this beautiful rainbow. To show the whole rainbow, I had to stitch together two separate pictures.  

Saturday, April 24, 2004 (Day 1 of the Easter Island Passage)

During my night watch it started out very clear, and once the smallish crescent moon set the night sky was spectacular. The Milky Way formed a huge band of light that shone luminously with clouds and clouds of stars. Looking through binoculars I could see innumerable stars, densely packed, that caused the naked-eye glow.

When the moon sets, or even the sun for that matter, you can't see the object drop below the watery horizon. There's so much humidity in the air that a region of inscrutable murk exists near the horizon. Even something as bright as the sun fades into the murk before it reaches the horizon. Due to the hazy horizon, we haven't had a chance to see a green flash.

It got cool at night and I had to go below to retrieve my hooded sweatshirt; I wore it zipped-up with the hood for the rest of my watch. This makes me wonder about the rest of the cruise. We are heading farther south into the Southern Hemisphere in time for their winter so it's bound to get cooler. I worry that some night watches may get uncomfortably cold; I'm not prepared for cold weather. Cool weather I can handle, but cold weather will be problematic.

In the coolness of night, the humid air coated much of the topsides with a film of dew. There wasn't much wind and the mainsail slatted noisily when the swell caused the boat to rock. As the sail slacked and popped full, dewdrops were flung off the sail and pattered down on the bimini like a gentle rain shower.

During the night the boat was visited by the ghostly and eerie sea bats that we first noticed on the passage to the Galapagos. Though they are birds I dubbed them "sea bats" since they visit only at night and make clicking sounds like bats as they flitter around.

Evening descends peacefully after a day of slow sailing.  

Sunday, April 25, 2004 (Day 2 of the Easter Island Passage)

Today, frankly, was not a satisfying day. The wind was light all day, sometimes calm, and we barely eked out a few sailing miles. Most of the day we drifted aimlessly since there wasn't enough wind even to point the boat in the right direction. As the swell passed under us, the mainsail would slat horribly, popping and snapping, with the rigging noisily clanking and thumping. The racket made it sound like the boat was taking a beating, all for practically no gain. I say practically because there was a one-knot current that helped a little, but the current was carrying us westward. Right now, we want to go more to the south since we want to get out of the doldrums and into trade wind belt where the winds are steadier and stronger.

Towards the end of my afternoon watch, David announced a problem: the aft head was jammed and wouldn't flush. To effect repairs David would have to disassemble the head, even though it was now full of sewage. This has got to be the worst boat problem from a "yuck" point of view. First he had to pour the sewage from the bowl into a bucket, then disassemble the pump, still full of sewage. All this while working below in a confined space with foul odors on a rolling and pitching boat. To his great credit, David carried out the repairs quickly and efficiently, and without "tossing his cookies". At one point the galley sink had to be used to wash off soiled parts, which held up dinner for a while. Afterwards, the sink and galley area were disinfected with bleach.

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