St. Helena to French Guiana - Days 3-5

on the way to fr. guiana Day 3  

Miles to go: 2,933 nm (under 3,000 nm already)

2 flying fish

A much better night watch...no rain and the seas have begun to calm. No moon and no stars make for a claustrophobic watch. The only light in the sky was the tricolor on the masthead. The dark closes in on you when there's no horizon for reference. It's like a fast ride in the dark at an amusement park when you lose all sense of space and direction.

There is a new screechy- squeak that we hear from time to time below that's akin to fingernails scraping on a chalkboard. It's hard to ferret out exactly where it's coming from, but we think it's the staysail fair lead block. There's still lots of dust and dirt from Luderitz responsible for several annoying noises aboard. We plan to investigate further today as it drove both of us nuts during our sleep time.

We're planning on 30 days to reach French Guiana. A long passage for sure, but much shorter than heading up to the States like last time. We're making good time now, but once in the doldrums crossing the equator, it'll be slow, slow going. David checked out the location of the ITCZ which migrates north and south with the seasons. Hopefully, we'll cross into the northern hemisphere at its narrowest point.

On his morning deck tour, David discovered two fat flying fish in the scuppers...the first two of the passage. We think we attracted more night sea critters when we used bow and stern nav lights at night instead of the tricolor on the mast. Our all-time record was about 23 one morning on this same passage in 2007. We'll have to go some to beat that record.

Day 4

Miles to go: 2,817

A nondescript night watch. We're getting into the sched now...sleeping when we should, and awake the rest of the time. It always takes 3-4 days for our bodies to adjust, and then remarkably, they do. Some folks imagine that night watches are really difficult, but in actuality, after a few days, it's pretty easy. It's a time for thought and contemplation. Don't get me wrong though...a full night's sleep next to my captain trumps night watch any day.

An odd sunrise this morning. I actually saw the "crack" of dawn. The sky was still thick with night and a thin slit, bright and dazzling, appeared just above the horizon. Literally, dawn knife-edged its way through a crack in the sky. A few minutes later, thin shards of radiant sunlight pierced through charcoal-grey clouds and reflected off the ocean's surface. It was stunning. You had to see it to get the full experience. I took pics and I'll share whenever we get to the land of Internet again.

David's new prop generator is really earning its keep. We haven't had to start the engine since leaving St. Helena and we've been running the watermaker for a couple of hours each day plus all the nav instruments plus the computers and iPads and we still have power left over and it's  shunting into the hot water heater. Pretty amazing. David reminds me that I initially pooh-poohed the idea. Was that me? Hmm...my memory is really bad these days. No matter. I'm already adding up diesel fuel credits and applying them  towards inland travel excursions when we get to the Guianas. Mama didn't raise no fool!

One beat-up, worse for the wear, flying fish on deck this morning. Total flying fish this passage - 3

flying fish

Day 5

Miles to go: 2,704 This was the kind of starry, starry night Van Gogh envisioned when he painted. The sky was clear and solid black. No moon vied for attention. It was all stars...millions and millions of them. Some bright and twinkling, some in clusters, some dim and barely visible. The sky was jam packed full of stars and it was mesmerizing. I picked out Orion's belt and sword immediately as he shone in the east, following our track.

For a change, David turned on the regular running lights instead of the masthead tricolor to see if we'd attract more flying fish during the night, but we didn't. One flying fish crashed onto the deck about 0200 and almost found his way into the cockpit. What a ruckus he made while I was so intent on stargazing. He really startled me. I took pity on him floundering about and tossed him back to Neptune. That's 4 flying fish total this passage.

We haven't touched the sails since we left St. Helena, but the wind has backed to the east and we needed to re-rig the pole on the starboard side. David was ready to go at the turn of the 0600 watch. I was still thick with sleep as he hauled in the foresails. We maneuvered the pole across and got it rigged in record time. David went to bed and I finally woke up to welcome an absolutely gorgeous day...all sunshine, blue sky, and fine breezes.

Time change. Changing the clocks during passage is a totally arbitrary thing. We tell time by the  rising and setting of the sun. The day of the week is totally irrelevant. It's been very dark at 0600 as we've moved farther west. We need to pick up three hours somewhere en route and thought we'd start today. It's easier to handle an hour at a time. We had a hard time figuring out what time zone we were in to gain one hour. Our iPads don't use GMT +/- xx hours, but rather depend upon location-specific time zones. I guess Apple figures most users know what city they're in. We're in the Praia, Cape Verde time zone, by the way.