A 25 year old American called James Baldwin sailed alone around the world in the early 1980s with just US$500 in his pocket. In his book Across Oceans and Islands, he writes: "The sea, especially in its moments of fury, demands first your attention, then your endurance, and finally your patience and acceptance. If you lack this capacity, the sea will soon find you out and make it known to you that the shore is where you should make your home."
Waving goodbye to Roger from NZ Customs at Marsden Wharf by the Cloud, we set sail out of Auckland on Monday afternoon with some good strong westerly winds behind us and a few dolphins to guide us on our way. We passed North Head and Rangitoto, and headed for Great Barrier Island which was to be our last glimpse of New Zealand for the next year. After lunch (thanks Steph!), we started the four hour watches with Myles settling down for a nap at 4pm. The First Mate was overheard muttering something about Skipper taking liberties but nobody on board could confirm or deny so it must have been the wind.
That very same wind increased overnight and by Tuesday morning, the sea had caught up. Then the rain arrived to give us two full days and nights of intense sailing conditions. Ashling was loving it and making great ground - we averaged 150 miles a day compared to our expected 100. However it was a tough start for the crew as we were already exhausted from the final weeks of preparation and had hoped for a quiet few days to get our bodies used to life on the water. We were cold, wet, tired and everything on board was a struggle as we switched between the bed and the cockpit every four hours. Looking at Baldwin's quote above, there was no delay in the sea getting our attention and as soon as it did, our endurance (read bumps, bruises and tears) was heavily tested.
By Thursday the wind and sea had started to ease and the sun came out, which made things a whole lot better. We crossed 180 degrees moving from the eastern to western hemisphere, Eithne washed her hair and we discovered a third crew member – a fly who was hiding in one of the lockers. We've named him Wilson and he has proved very useful in any debates, generally tending to take Eithne's side as she has apparently added fly-speak to her list of known languages! We had another pleasant day on Friday with nice winds and more sunshine, and the discovery that if we zoom out on our GPS Chartplotter, we can now fit our current position and our destination, Tahiti, on the same screen. Mind you, they are still very far apart but it is small things like this that lifts crew morale and gives us a renewed energy to keep going.
Today is Saturday and we have no wind so it's a day off. Not strictly lying around doing nothing, but doing less than what we've been doing every other day. We started off with an attempt to raise the parachute to keep us moving in whatever little wind there was, but there was not even enough wind for that and we resorted to gently rocking over and back and staying in one place for the day. Eithne got stuck into washing some clothes and airing out the boat after the week that has been, including moving some supplies around in lockers so that they don't come hurtling out when we change tack. Myles dug out the toolbox to fix up some lines around the mast and service the autopilot which has done a great week's work and deserved a day off too.
Now it's Saturday night and it's time for a beer and a movie. I think we've earned it!