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25% of our passage is in the bag, crossing the equator

Dear Family and Friends,

 

We have been at sea for a week now! Our first full day on the water was all motoring. There was no wind, but we were able to enjoy a lot of great animal life. We saw a hammerhead shark, almost hit a turtle, and sailed with lots of frolicking dolphins. The wind finally arrived just before sunset and we hoisted the parasail for the first time this trip. What a DREAM to have 4 people who KNOW how to fly one of these on board. It makes life so much easier. And, I find them both (naturally) doing things that are on my TO DO list each day. It’s incredible the amount of stress it takes off our shoulders. We are very thankful.

 

The night went without a hitch until the end of my shift at 3 am. I heard a loud “snap” and the sail started to curl. I knew we needed to snuff it and figure out what happened. I woke up the gang and within 10 minutes, we had the sail back up and flying. One of the knots connected to the parasail gave way for some reason. It was a strange one.

 

Day 2 started with a lot of excitement – I noticed the clothespin on the handline had snapped off. Yes, that is how we know if we have something on the lure; it could be a fish or sometimes it’s just a plastic bag or seaweed. Not this time…it was a 10 lb yellowfin tuna. Francesco fileted it while Brown was busy in his Indian kitchen, cooking lentils, rice, and black bean brownies. Wow, tunas are really bloody. We cleaned everything up, put the fish in the freezer and ten minutes later, I noticed the new clothespin (we are not going to have any left to hang our clothes on the line at this rate!) had popped. I pulled in the line and there was a 12 lb. big eye tuna on the line! WOW! This one was kicking up a storm and made a BLOODY mess all over the rear cockpit. The issue was we were not prepared with a net, gaffe, and bucket. We cut its head off to kill it and t took longer to clean the blood and guts than it did to filet. Brown took care of this one, and Yuka expertly cleaned up his filets. She is Japanese and grew up fileting fish. She is a master. She then pulled the first fish filets out of the freezer (temporarily in there to help them cut more easily) and sliced perfect bite size pieces, arranging them beautifully on a plate. Then she made some amazing dipping sauce and wasabi and we sat down to eat lunch together, devouring the fresh fish with our dainty chopsticks. Yuka and Francesco brought all of this from Japan for our trip.

 

Working out the best shift schedule can be a challenge, but we think we found something that works. Each of us serves 3 hours on/9 hours off from 6 am to midnight. Then we do 2 hour shifts until 6 am as it’s harder to stay awake and focused in the night. And, that’s when all the bad stuff happens so we try to take it in small bites. Breakfast is “on your own” and no one eats dinner. We are lean machines on Blown Away! The lunch meal we eat together and have a meeting. We eat, talk about the day, share stories of our lives, and discuss the weather and our routing for that day. We are using a weather router, but the reality is that we are the ones living it, and we have to make decisions based on what is seen. But, I am pleased to say that our weather router has been worth every cent we have paid him, thus far.

 

Though we don’t see any other boats, life on the water is far from lonely. We have 4 boat friends within 50NM of us and many that are in various stages of the four week journey. It’s so much fun to compare speed, wind, what we are seeing and catching. One of the boat is our 30 year old friends who we met 3 years ago, and have recently helped us SO much. Sadly, one of them has a bad bladder infection and they are making an emergency stop in Galapagos for medical attention.

 

Our third day on passage was our best yet. The parasail flew beautifully all day and we enjoyed a 2-3kt current and following seas. It was a quieter day than the previous two as we all caught up on sleep. In the afternoon, we passed the amazing island of Malpelo, one of the best diving spots in the Pacific. I wish we could have stopped!

 

On Day 4 we passed a HUGE milestone for us – 10,000NM completed on Blown Away. Wow. We still feel like we are in boat Kindergarten with so much to learn, but we have come so far. Yuka and Francesco have taken on the role of teachers, watching our sailing management with a critical eye and instruction for how to make it better. We have learned SO much from them. And, they have forced us to swap roles on the boat so we are both learning what the other was doing. It’s been so good. And, hopefully we will have to wake them up far fewer times in the night to make a sail change.

 

The nautical miles logged on Day 5 set the mark for our longest passage yet on the boat. Before this, it was our passage to the Rio Dulce which was 671NM. A few observations: 1) we are eating far less than we thought we would, b) fruits and veggies are not lasting nearly as long as we had hoped, 3) we should have started the trip with room in the freezer for the fish we have caught, 4) we need to start eating items in the freezer to make some room for the freshies that need to be preserved, 5) we thought we would see more wildlife but only birds, not even dolphins.

 

On Day 6 we celebrated another milestone; we crossed the equator! Those who have crossed the equator before are called shellbacks. Those who have not are called Pollywags. To become a shellback, you have to complete a maritime rite of passage, appeasing King Neptune. Francesco and Yuka (well, really only Francesco) pushed us to have a “formal” ceremony. So, the morning of 7 March 2024, we prepared costumes and the boys wrote the script. At 10:07am, we crossed the equator and stood trial by King Neptune; Yuka took video (She and Francesco are shellbacks already) and we pollywags were accused and convicted of three infractions and “abused” for about 20 minutes before being tossed in the water and allowed to return to the boat before being dubbed shellbacks. It was good to stop mid-ocean and laugh for a little while.  Of course, Brown thought he was performing for an Oscar!

 

After a celebratory drink of sparkling apple juice, we turned on the engines, raised the sails and resumed our journey in search of the wind. We are in the middle of the doldrums now and should have no/light wind so we motor sailed. However, at sunset, the wind shifted to the nose (HUH? We thought we left THAT kind of sailing behind!) and the sea got quite rough. All night we were tossed about and experienced our first squall. Thankfully, there was no wind and the fresh water on the boat, gave it a good washing!

 

On our 7th day on the water, we faced the same wind on the nose, but thankfully the seas were less confused. Or maybe it just feels worse when it’s dark. We rounded the South part of Galapagos and normally we turn West, but as of now, it appears we will have to continue heading South in search of this wind that eludes us. s

 

To follow our journey across the Pacific Ocean through our boat tracker. We post a daily update at this tracker link: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/BlownAway/

 

For those of you on No Foreign Land, we will post the same update here: https://www.noforeignland.com/boat/sailingblownaway/journey

 

Here is the link to photos from the week: (only one, I think!)

 

VIDEO (Real Date: December 2023): In this video, we make our FINAL sail in the Caribbean Sea and enter the breakwater of the Panama Canal Zone. Pulling into Shelter Bay Marina is surreal as we have talked about this for SO long. But, will a medical emergency put an end to our sailing career? Is this it? Check out our video to find out!

 

Here is the link to the 17-minute video: https://youtu.be/kUXTG16HTQI

 

Lots of love,

E&B

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