St. Helena to French Guiana - Days 8 - 10

shiptrak 89
shiptrak 89

Day 8

Miles to go: 2,312

An okay night. A tiny, sliver of a new crescent moon appeared and set quickly, but at least she  showed up for a change. We'll witness an entire moon phase this trip and I'm glad to welcome her back. Yes, the moon is a she, in case you were wondering.  The wind was a constant 15-20 knots during the night. That's our estimate anyway; the wind speed indicator seems to be on vacation. David has started "the list".

I slept a deep, deep sleep on my 0300-0600 off watch. When David woke me, I was so groggy that I failed to hear him mention that rain was on the way. I ventured out into the cockpit with my morning cup of Earl Grey. It started sprinkling immediately. I retreated below and waited. In 20 minutes, it was all over, a quick morning shower. I climbed back out into the cockpit. It had managed to rain just long enough to get the cockpit wet and make my tea cold. I got comfortable and within 10 minutes, the rain started up again. I grumbled and griped out loud, with no one to hear, but the wind and rain, gathered up my stuff once again and headed down below. I need a chance to wake up peacefully and gracefully and this ain't the way. It's enough to make a girl quite grouchy first thing in the morning. I watched and waited as several more rain clouds headed our way. Grrrr! Luckily, I had 3 hours to work through and out of "the mood" before David got up and had to contend with it.

The day brightened up though (as did my mood) and turned out lovely. We're in t-shirts and barefeet now. Sometimes we need a light cover-up at night, but the blankets have been stowed and the sweatpants, woolen socks and heavy fleeces have seen their last use for a long time.

David cooked again...his famous Chicken Enchilada casserole. Not an easy task when we're on a heel, but well worth the effort... the result was scrumptious as usual. We were fresh out of sour cream, but the plain yogurt I made yesterday was a fine substitution.

Two flying fish big fat one and one tiny, tiny one. That's a total of six this passage...a paltry sum. Our Aussie friend, Tony, asked if we eat them. Some folks do. David did fry a couple up one morning on a previous passage and coerced me into trying one. Disgusting comes to mind...very strong and fishy. No, we don't eat them; we just collect them and then commend them back to Neptune.

Day 9

Miles to go: 2,183

A pleasant enough night watch with a few 25-30 knot gusts associated with cloudbursts that kept us on our toes, but nothing that lasted. For the most part, 12-15 knot E/SE winds prevailed. On my midnight-0300 watch, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a sudden movement. A shadowy silhouette of a fluttering bird hovered just above the solar panels. I think it was probably a petrel, attracted by the running lights. He squawked a few times. I flashed a light on him and he flew off, then returned intermittently throughout my watch. I was wondering if he intended to land on the solar panels like several booby hitchhikers we've had in the past, but he never did.

Dawn was a flop again...a heavy grey, overcast sky with intermittent sprinkles kept me below for an hour or so...enough time to answer an email and finish up a blog. By mid-morning, however, the sun shone its full radiance and remained so for the rest of the day.

Crew conversation has been intense lately. We're still not decided what we'll do after the Guianas...such a big world, so many options, so little time. Rest assured, once we figure it out, you'll be the first to know.

I've begun reviewing my French, taking an hour or so each day brushing up on my vocabulary and verb tenses and idiomatic expressions. It's coming along okay. I've asked David to come up with sentences for me to translate and we do this for 10-15 minutes each morning. The problem, of course, is not asking the questions in French...that's the easy part. Rather it's  successfully understanding the answers that are quickly rattled off in response. "Ou est le banc?", I ask. And the answer is ... Blah,blah,de la blah in a local French accent and dialect and I have absolutely no idea where the bank is at all.

Studying, writing and chatting away the day and before you know it, it's dinner time again. Thai satay chicken with carrots and rice to join us?

Day 10

Miles to go: 2,089

A slow night...the wind was fickle, off and on and pushing us more north than northwest. Around 0400, an errant wave rocked Cups and the subsequent crash below had my sleeping Captain retracting his fingernails from the header (ceiling, in boat talk) and trying to untangle himself from the lee cloth holding him in his bunk. Yowsa!

It seems the locker behind the starboard settee had fallen open. The twist-turn butterfly latches that secure the otherwise well-behaved locker must have rotated with time and/or boat vibration and the wave gave it the nudge it needed to spill the contents of the locker. It all came cascading out with a deafening crash. Eight large, heavy, plastic, lidded boxes containing bolts, washers, nuts and screws sailed out onto the sole (floor, in boat lingo). The sacred Dremel tool had taken to flight, too, and now rested near the nav station. David wondered what we'd hit or what had hit us.

My heart raced as I scrambled down from the cockpit. Several of the boxes remained closed, but we spent the better part of an hour collecting and sorting various bits of stainless hardware throughout the salon, galley and nav station and returning them to their rightful box. I have visions of finding more, probably with my bare feet, in the near future. Enough excitement for one night.

No matter how careful we are about securing everything at sea, things still find a way of shaking loose. We've had silverware drawers shooting spoons and forks across the galley and dinner plates and bowls careening into the aft cabin. Oranges and onions can seem like cannonballs when they're loose and  aloft. Tonight was pretty tame compared to a knockdown we suffered off East Cape returning to New Zealand from the Chatham Islands. Things were in an uproar then. But tonight, David returned to his bunk and I returned to my watch duties and the night continued on into day, which was nowhere near as exciting.

That's my story... and I'm sticking to it.

Days 11-12 coming up