11PM boat time
Position at 0700 April 18, 2012 UTC: 01°03'N 126°56'W
1.5/2.0 meter mixed direction
20% cloud cover
Day 14: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia
All is well aboard. We sailed out the ITCZ overnight and are happy to put the squally weather behind us.
Around 2:3PM last night I woke to grinding winches and then a moment later the crash and racket of the mainsail gybing with a huge crash and then gybing back again with another crash. I was on deck in seconds with adrenaline pumping and more than a bit worried about what was going on. Running off the wind in squally conditions, the last thing you want to do is a uncontrolled gybe as the boom and 600SF of sail slash across the deck with a dangerous tendency to break things or tear the sail.
Kelsey was on the 12 AM to 3 AM watch and seeing a squall on the radar had furled the jib had begun hand steering when she crash gybed the main twice within seconds. I was a little upset as my standing watch order was to 'Wake the skipper if there was an impending squall'. Kelsey was a little shaken, teary eyed and feeling pretty bad for the error of judgment in trying to handle too much on her own with out getting me up to help. I stressed the importance of following orders as we steered the boat head to wind and dropped the main sail before bearing off and continuing our course under Jib alone for the remainder of the night. Our boat speed dropped significantly but we were now sailing well within the comfort zone of the crew given the squally conditions and peace of mind the shortened sail plan afforded the skipper slumber.
At 6AM I began my 6AM to 10AM watch and hoisted the main and for the last 17 hours we've been making a minimum of 7 knots on a southerly course on the hunt for the SE trades.
Mostly clear skies today with 10-14 true wind out of E or SE and a crazy mixed swell from the ENE, NW and SE. At the moment we are on a course of 226T with true wind out of the SE at 14 knots and moving nicely at 8+ knots with surfs to near 11 knots from time to time. However, the confused swell create some irregular boat motion that cause the mainsail to back a bit and slam. I usually can't tolerate any sail slamming, but will happily take the speed and course made good while still North of the equator in an area forecast for almost zero wind the next 24 hours.
Fished all day with no catching. A eight foot shark swam along side the boat for a time with fins out of the water in a very 'Jaws' like fashion. Not the sort of image you want to put in your head as we anticipate stopping the boat tomorrow at the equator to swim over the line.
Kathy prepared apple pancakes for breakfast with a side of canned sausage patties, Kelsey baked a loaf of bread and Andrew baked some chocolate cookies. I steered clear of the crowded galley until the stove ran out of gas and I needed to change tanks, I then ran the water maker before enjoying a nice afternoon nap.
This evening Kelsey was on for dinner and we dined on platter of cheese, meat and canned salmon accompanied with fresh bread and a nice cabbage and cucumber salad with a tasty cummin dressing.
Kathy hosted the Pacific Puddle Jump Net as Net Control at 0200UTC on 8A and checked in seventeen participating boats in a record time of just under 30 minutes. Andrew hand steered during the net as the sun set on our 14th day since leaving Cabo San Lucas.
The southern hemisphere skies are slowly revealing themselves as the Southern Cross guides us yet closer to the equator.
That's all for tonight,
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