Sunday, January 6, 2013

Are we there yet?

Position: 04°08'N, 88°22'W

Another week, another month, another year...and we're still here,
bobbing away. It has been over six weeks since we last stood on dry land
and the good news is that we're almost there again. Finally.

Last week's magic carpet current eased eventually, returning us to
average wind speeds and an average current. We were becalmed for a few
days, floating along at 1-2 knots in a flat sea of thick, black ink.
Light winds are common around this latitude as the hot air over the
equator rises, cools and falls, creating a zone of calm, humid weather
known as the Doldrums. The final 600 miles to Panama will be slow moving
but with a little more patience, we'll get there one degree and one day
at a time.

There's no shortage of thinking time out here at sea and as we near the
end of our second ocean passage, we've started to notice a pattern to
our thoughts during the different stages of these voyages. After leaving
land, we spend the first week looking back at what we left behind and
steeling ourselves for any unknown challenges to come in the weeks
ahead. A few weeks in, we have settled into the routine of life at sea
and are no longer thinking about what we're missing. It's too early to
think about our next destination so we just look to the next day and the
next week, and deal with the demands of the foreseeable future.

As we pass the halfway mark, anxieties ease somewhat as we reflect on
what we have achieved and start to believe that we can actually do this.
We dig out the cruising guides and travel books to indulge ourselves in
descriptions of anchorages, restaurants and tourist attractions at our
next port. In the final week, excitement levels rise with the
realisation that land is days rather than weeks away. Last month's or
last week's achievements are diminished to insignificance as we
impatiently look only forward. Like a drug addict seeking a higher high,
we become obsessed with faster speeds and maximum daily mileage, doing
everything we can to shave a few hours or even a day off our arrival.

Things we have learned on this leg:
- The Pacific Ocean is bloody massive!
- A chapter of a Harry Potter audio book is a great way to start the day
- Recently-heated ovens and engines make great clothes dryers
- You can never have too much food on board
- In desperate times, the Skipper will eat sweetcorn, couscous, even Tom
Yum soup
- Even in desperate times, the First Mate will not touch corned beef

As Panama approaches, Spanish learning has begun in earnest. The Skipper
is taking the lead this time, listening to a chapter of a 'Learn
Spanish' audio book (Thanks Alan C!) during his night watch and then
passing on the highlights to the First Mate over breakfast. The first
lesson didn't exactly inspire confidence – "No hablo Español" – but
things have improved and we are now on to directions – "Dónde esta el
restaurante de biftek? Dónde esta la carnicería?" (Where is the
steakhouse? Where is the butcher shop?"). It's all about priorities.

Congratulations to Mairéad & Frank who got engaged this week. We're
looking forward to being there to see you tie the knot in Ireland this
summer.

6 comments:

  1. Hola! I'm with you on the corned beef, Eithne.

    (and just by the way - certain EGM People & Development has been made redundant!)

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  2. This is a great read whilst sitting on the Waiheke ferry sipping my flat white. Happy new year to you and all best for next steps and seeing land ahoy ... Or something like that. Jason (fonterra)

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  3. Sounds like a great adventure and sorry for not posting earlier but New Year's resolution now in force to up the communication! Planning to land in ireland myself (with kids) on 17th April. Will I beat you there? Caroline K

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  4. Happy New Year and well done on the voyage so far. Kathleen gave us the details just earlier this evening - so we were delighted to have a read of your very exiting trip. We'll be keeping an eye out as you progress. Best of luck. Mary, Frank & Girls - Balloor.

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  5. Hi Cousins,
    Great that you are nearly on land after what must have been a testing time. Yuriy has the globe on the counter following you on your trip, a good way to get him to learn his geography!! Looking forward to your next update.
    Love Jo Jo & Yuriy

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