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Walkabout - Day 9 - Flying Fish and Flying Boobies

S8:02 W109:25

The last 24 hours have been a bit of a mixed bag weather wise. Early yesterday was bright with stable winds 14-18 knots from the ESE. The solar was charging the batteries and the sailing was pretty straight forward - port tack, 1 reef in the main and full Genoa. The Hydrovane had all the steering under control. The cloud cover increased by lunchtime, and soon there were the signs of rain and squalls around us. A short while later we had a call on the VHF from Into The Mystic, who were about 4 miles away from us, to say that they had just been hit by a big one, with the wind jumping from 14 to 26 knots in an instant, accompanied by torrential rain - And it was heading our way.

The radar told the same story - big squall and we were right in it’s track. We got ourselves sorted with the plan of action - 3rd reef in main and pull in as much Genoa as necessary. Then just as ITM had said - boom - 14 knots became 26 knots in an instant. Accompanied by a 30 degree shift in wind direction and torrential rain. This set the scene for the rest of the afternoon. A steady stream of squalls coming our way. Winds up and down from 10knots to 30knots, shifting 40 degrees when the gusts came. Our reefing and furling techniques got a good testing over those hours as we caught to keep control and maintain some headway.

Into the evening the squalls abated, but the wind built - 20-24knots continuously. At 1830 we set ourselves up for the night - 3 reefs in the main and 1.5 reefs in the Genoa on port tack. Our heading was aiming straight to Hiva Oa. The ride was not particularly comfortable - with building seas on the port quarter corkscrewing the boat along. I was on the 2000-2300 shift. At change over it was obvious the neither Traci or Tom had got much sleep so far. Thankful the situation slowly improved over night, and at dawn the wind was back to 15 knots.

During the night, Traci was saved from a direct hit by a flying fish by one of the side panels in the cockpit - would have been painful. Around dawn there was a solitary booby circling the boat - the first we have seen in a while. It couldn’t be much further from land if it tried. We are over 1200 miles from the Galapagos, and approaching the half way point of our passage. Extraordinary the distances that these birds travel.

The Book Club now has 3 bona fide members! We have all read at least one book! Not so surprising for some, but pretty unusual for me!

A quiet day for the fishing club. Nothing landed, apart from a huge tangle of our line on the rod. Not sure how that happened, but we ended up having to cut the tangled line off the reel. So now we have less line to let a fish run before it reaches the end of the reel…

This morning we have set ourselves up wing-on-wing downwind - main to starboard with a preventer, poled out Genoa to port. The roll of the boat is causing the main to clatter about a bit, so we are about to change to the Blue Water Runner - hopefully that will be it for the day and we can have a chilled day. Tune in tomorrow to find out if that turns out to be the case...

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