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Friday, April 20, 2012

Day 16 Mexico to Marquesas

April 19, 2012
6PM boat time

Position at 0200 April 20, 2012 UTC: 02°08'S 129°17'W

Day 16: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

Frequent squalls with heavy rain today kept the crew on their toes adjusting the sail plan. Andrew would hand steer the boat in the driving rain while Kelsey manned the soggy sheets.

To manage squalls we use the STACS method to stack the deck in our favor.
S = Sail (reduce area)
T = Trim (move main traveler down)
A = Autopilot OFF (hand steer)
C = Course (adjust to wind shifts)
S = Sheets (ready to ease the main sheet)

Late in the afternoon we tucked in two reefs just ahead of an extra big, dark and menacing squall that soon bombarded us with immense amounts of rain and gusts to 34 knots. We all suited up for squall showers (baths) and then caught water pouring off the mainsail for a bit of laundry. With the wind and the rain it was nice to feel a chill in contrast to the sticky 92F cabin temperature with 70% humidity:( We sluiced along in the squall at speeds up to 12 knots which extended our time in the refreshing rain and cool temperatures.

Just as the squall was leaving us behind we got a hit on the lure we'd been dragging for two days. Just as I yelled Fish On! the line went slack. Then a minute later the line started to scream off the reel at a record pace. We were going at least 8 knots and a quick look off the stern confirmed that a huge Marlin was tail walking the other direction. We furled sail and dropped the main just in time to avoid being spooled (losing all the line). Kelsey grabbed the fighting belt and as I passed the rod to her the behemoth fish nearly pulled me off balance and into the water. Kelsey fought the fish for a time, but its vigorous acrobatics and sheer size were too much for our tackle which finally parted under the strain leaving us 300yds of slack line and our favorite lure lost.

We are now sailing near the rhumb line on a course of 231T for the Marquesas with 2.5 meter SE swell at 9 seconds and East wind at 20 knots adding it's own wind chop to the mix. The ride is not too smooth. Otherwise, all is well aboard. As I write the crew and Kathy are playing Gin Rummy.

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