Friday 6 March 2015

Galapagos to Marquesas, the start

The full moon rises early in the sky behind us, a faint silver disc in the blistering afternoon sun, glowing brighter as the sun fades, then rising high in the cloudless night sky and casting a shimmering light over the surface of the sea.  This is the first night of our Pacific crossing and it will take some time to adjust being back on the ocean.

The start in Santa Cruz was spectacular. Sixteen yachts all crossing the line together on a beam reach, then once clear of the reef, bursts of colour around the fleet as spinnakers were set for the broad reach southwest to find the wind. Everyone made it to the start line, but for some it was only just.  Over the past few weeks the gossip has all been about crew.  The first crew to leave the rally cited insurmountable differences on one of the catamarans and departed in Panama.  Another crewmember seems to have been traumatised by the weather conditions offshore and has decided to fly home, leaving her husband to fare for himself. However at the last minute, only yesterday, two crewmembers jumped ship from another yacht, allowing Barry to make the start, but leaving Stefan shorthanded. Andrew incites further mutiny by organising a crew supper, owners expressly excluded, to discuss the issues of being guests on board in confined spaces for long periods of time. We sympathise, but not all owners approve and Andrew has to buy drinks to smooth ruffled feathers.

The other issue that almost prevented boats from starting were engineering problems.  We all have niggles to deal with from time to time but some boats have had bigger issues to resolve.  Wayward Wind had engineers come on board last week to remove the cylinders from their engine for repair; only to hear on Monday that the parts had been sent to mainland Ecuador, returning late last night when the engine was reassembled only hours before the start. On Afar VI their generator has been playing up for weeks so a new part was ordered from the UK and fitting began yesterday. Thanks to the assistance of the ever-helpful Andy, on Pentagram, the job was finally completed in the dark yesterday evening and the generator started first kick, so happy faces at the Rock cafĂ© this morning at checkout.

After a magnificent start this morning the wind has died, and with a long swell running from the south, we have had to start the engine. The forecast tells us that the trade winds are at around 4 degrees south, two hundred miles south of our position, but first we have to cross the Doldrums again.

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