Position: 04°49'N, 118°28'W
Distance to Panama: 2,363 nautical miles
Distance to Port of Refuge A (Hawaii): 2,340 nautical miles
Distance to Port of Refuge B (Galapagos Islands): 1,654 nautical miles
While midnight marks the end of a day on land, midday marks a day change
for us at sea as we switch from one 24 hour period to the next. Using
our latitude and longitude at 1200, we calculate how many miles we've
travelled in the past 24 hours and how many miles remain to our
destination. A good result of 100 miles or more raises crew morale for
the day and the boat is a happy place.
This past week we travelled more than 100 miles every day (great!) but
many of these were to the south (not so great!). Panama is to the east,
not the south, so we were effectively sailing away from our destination.
It was hard for the crew to bear but there was no denying the logic of
promised stronger winds in the south versus the danger of storms and
squalls in the ITCZ above 6°N. We did make some easting every day – an
average of 57 miles towards Panama – but it was never enough. One day we
made just 10 miles, not a happy day. Hopefully the winds and current
align better this week so we can start ticking off these degrees of
We continue to be blessed with relatively good weather conditions with
only a few cloudy nights so far and just the occasional squall.
Cloudless nights are enjoyable for more reasons than one. No clouds mean
no squalls, no rain and consistent weather conditions. It also means
that we are surrounded by millions of stars, some so bright that they
are reflected in the water. Some, probably planets, seem to twinkle red
or orange and, if they appear on the horizon in the dark of the night,
we often confuse them for approaching ships. As night fell on Friday, we
almost dismissed a light on the horizon as one of these deceptive stars
when we realised it was in fact another vessel.
Ever the eager communicator (i.e. dying for a chat) the First Mate got
on the radio: "Big Ship, Big Ship, this is Little Ship, Little Ship to
your north. Over." The Bulgarian skipper of a car carrier ship en route
from South America to South Korea replied, kicking off a nice little
chat for the next half hour. The difference in vessels couldn't have
been greater. There was 25 crew on board, all of different nationalities
(Philippines, Ukrainian, Bulgarian) and they were 5 days into a 25 day
passage back to Korea after delivering a shipment of Hyundais to South
America. They had a chef, they had internet access, they had 24 other
people to distract and entertain them – for Christmas "We will have big
party" the Skipper reported in his deep eastern European accent. A
party! Just imagine!
However when the conversation turned to what we did to pass the time
every day, the daily routine of being on a boat at sea was strangely
familiar – books, DVDs, chores, sleep, crossword puzzles, card games.
Even with all the mod cons on a commercial vessel, the challenge of
finding something to do to while away the long hours remains the same.
We chatted back and forth about each other's boat, our experience in
French Polynesia, his recommendation to visit Bulgaria. It was an
interesting exchange and after three weeks at sea now, a pleasant change
from our standard evening routine. It was also a great comfort to us to
see a ship on the horizon and know that there is someone else out here