Passages in time
Lat 06 11.926 ’S
Long 153 59.836’E
Or in layman’s terms, 2/5ths of the way to PNG from the Solomon Islands.
Technically, we are in Papua New Guinea however many of their islands are considered unsafe so we need to sail an extra 300nm (3 days) to check in!!!
The concept of being on a passage is so foreign to most people I thought I would describe what a day on passage looks/feels like.
Midnight to midnight!
0000 - Jamie wakes up and we have a quick handover. I have been on watch since 8pm. Weather is calm and although the sails are up there is not enough wind to sail so we have 1 engine on. We alternate between the engines to conserve fuel. 1 engine running gives us a boat speed of about 4.5-5 knots (depending on current, waves and wind) and uses 2.2L of diesel per hour. 2 engines gives us 6 - 6.5knots of boat speed but then we are using 4.4L of diesel per hour. Although slower 1 engine at a time dramatically increases the range that we can motor if we need to.
We discuss the chart plotter (Map) screen - I point out that there is one large container ship about 20nm from us and moving away.
Jamie puts on all the safety gear (knife, inflatable harness, personal EPIRB and waterproof radio), he clips on and then I slip into bed.
I set my alarm for 3.45am and try to sleep. Its hard, the boat is moving (sorry to state the obvious but boats don’t glide seamlessly through the water) even in relatively calm conditions such as these waves slap into the underside of the deck that connects our 2 hulls (catamaran remember) and it seriously sounds and feels like someone is throwing a tree at the side of your bed. Add to that an engine running and the occasional tweak of sails (also not silent) and well, sleeping is hard. Exhaustion helps and as it is night 2 I actually manage about 3.5 hours sleep - a small miracle.
0400 - Handover - Jamie to Denise. I come up the stairs and Jamie is barely managing to stay upright. He dislocated his shoulder a few days ago and its clear that its giving him grief. Also for some reason he has been plagued with an ongoing nausea (very unusual for Jamie) and he aches all over. We get through the handover super fast (there’s nothing to report except for the fact he’s altered our course a little and we are now sailing with no engines on). This should make for a quieter sleep for Jamie and I silently vow not to turn an engine on until he wakes up, Usually this is a 2 hour shift but I feel pretty good so I tell him to take 3 hours.
The moon is finally up and the sky is clear so I have a lovely time identifying constellations and planets while listening to music. Orion and Taurus are easy to find now and Venus is still pretty bright.
0400 - Plot position on manual chart
0600 - Turn on laptop and download weather for next 3 days via satellite
At 6.30 I sneak down to the bedroom and turn of Jamie’s alarm. I still feel great and I want him to get as much sleep as possible.
0645 - Put fishing line out
0700 - Jamie wakes up naturally, feels ok but after making me a coffee curls up on the lounge and goes back to sleep.
0800 - send of morning sat phone texts with location etc
0815 - Port engine alarms a few times. Proactively switch engines and turn him off. Once he cools down we’ll have a look. Maybe the fuel filter is clogged. This is a common problem on boats, especially when you are buying fuel from less than reputable locations. Oil should be fine as I checked and topped up the oil before we left.
0830 - take dinners out of the freezer
1000 - Jamies’ awake, feeling slightly….. better.
1030 - make sushi for lunch (I usually roast a chicken on day 1 of a passage and make a variety of chickeny lunches, sandwiches, cold rolls, sushi, soup. Today siracha chicken, carrot and cucumber sushi. Yum!
1100 - We eat lunch early on the boat primarily because we tend not to have breakfast. Jamie has taken over the watch. We have Porty back on and we will see how he goes. The seas are getting a little messy as we are between islands and there is no protection at all. It will be 18 hours until we have protection again, this time from New Ireland Island. Try saying that 3 times fast.
1130-1400 - Zzzzzzzzzzzz………
1400 - Movie time, its so FUCKING HOT there’s not really much you can do 36C and 75% humidity outside. WOW
1600 - Jamie’s asleep again and I wake him up as we are surrounded by a pod of pilot whales. Its a magical hour as they seem very curious about the boat as really just bob around us in calm gorgeous waters.
1700 - Dinner of pasta and a chat about the evenings entertainment. Both Jamie and I are really getting into Audible and as Jamie finished his book last night, he’s going to borrow my phone tonight as I have the Best of the Edinburgh Fringe series on it.
1800 - Plot course again on our chart and do a weather download. We are over half way, with 234nm left to go which should be 3 more days of sailing Engine swap over time, Porty has had no further issues today so we are going to ignore his little hiccup and hope for the best.
1900 - Sun’s down finally it has been a blisteringly hot day. We both shower and freshen up on the back step. Nothing beats a fresh water shower and start the tidy up to prepare for another night. No wind still so the motoring continues
2000 - Jamie heads off to bed so I strap in and take my seat at the helm. You can do the watch from anywhere on the boat really as long as every 15 minutes you do a complete 360 scan of the horizon and check the instruments. The view is pretty good from the helm and there’s a nice breeze normally up there, so that’s where I’ll be perched for the next 4 hours……