Crossing the Indian Ocean - Mauritius to Durban Days 13 & 14

durband days 13 - 14 Day 13 Miles to go:  432 nm

I didn't provision well for this trip. We thought we'd be at sea for about 12 days. Normally, we'd plan on 100 miles a day and do better than that. Our experience thus far in the Indian Ocean, however, rendered us a bit cocky and overconfident and thus, we're running out of things each day we sail beyond Day 12. There's no danger of starving; we've got lots of food stores in the larder. It's just that we'll be going without some things I wish I'd stocked up on. This thought led to a cockpit discussion about the 10 Top Things Not to Run Out of on a Passage. Here's our list, not necessarily foodstuffs and not in order of survival importance, but as we thought of them.

1. Toilet Paper We do not have a Sears catalog aboard nor corn husks (although an old West Marine catalog might do in a pinch). Running out of TP is not even something I care to contemplate. We've got plenty.

2. Water Even though we have a watermaker, we make sure our tanks are topped off when we leave port and never let them get too low.We also have a small hand-operated water maker in our ditch bag for emergencies.

3. Fuel Yes, we are a sailboat although from time to time, we are a motor-sailer. Having enough diesel aboard is primarily important for running the engine to charge the batteries and getting into port and docking.

4. Propane The inability to cook while on passage would be a hardship. No hot food for days?  Ouch! We carry extra propane tanks on deck to avoid ever running out.

5. Eggs We use lots of eggs ... sometimes as an ingredient for cakes, etc., and sometimes as a meal in itself like omelets or scrambles. I underestimated our usage for this trip and should have kept better track of just how many we were using. We're running low and I have no one to blame but myself. As an aside, I can substitute white vinegar for an egg in many recipes, but scrambled vinegar just doesn't cut it.

6. Coffee/tea Just don't even talk to me until I've had my wake-up cuppa. In a pinch, I can drink coffee and David will drink tea ... but doing without both altogether? Perish the thought.

7. Pasta/rice Pasta and rice constitute a major part of our meals. Running out of either would definitely put a crimp in our menu planning and it would be hard to find a substitute once the potatoes were gone.

8. Flour We bake quite a bit during passages. Bread, cakes, brownies ... even pizza on occasion. Flour is an essential ingredient that would severely limit our baking activities.

9. Chocolate I never much cared for chocolate. David is in the chocoholic category. Over the years, I've grown to like it and David hasn't changed at all. A special treat en route is sharing a chocolate bar. It's a comfort food and provides a good attitude lift when necessary.

10. Patience/sense of humor Luckily, we did manage to provision heavily in this area. Keeping things in perspective and laughing when you can keeps the crew in good spirits and able to cope with most anything ... including each other.

Day 14 Miles to go:  362 nm

One thing we're not lacking today is wind. Be careful what you wish for, right? We were plodding along, poled out to port, when the wind started backing ... earlier than forecast, but evidently the wind gods hadn't gotten the memo. At the change of the 0300 watch, we switched the pole to the starboard side. We're getting pretty good at this maneuver, having done it so often recently. The actual changeover and re-rigging takes less than 10 minutes. It's furling the sails, jibing and then re-setting the sails that takes all the time. We've got about a 1 knot push from the current now, so we were tooling right along.

At the change of the watch at 0600, we were steady as she goes, still heading west across the Mozambique Channel. By 0700, the wind was continuing to back and I switched the jib from the pole to the port side and we were beam reaching with 15 knots from the NE. By 0800, I'd reefed the jib, but we needed to take a reef in the main as the winds escalated to the mid-20s. Reefing the main is easier with two people aboard Cups, so David's nap was cut a bit short. Based on the forecast, we double-reefed the main and Cups rode easier.

The barometer fell to 1009. The wind continued to build and backed to the north then northwest.  We clawed for every bit of westerly we could get, but when the wind finally backed to the west at 35 knots, we hove-to for several hours until the SW winds took over.  David fought his way to the mast and we took another reef in the main, doused the jib and let out a reefed staysail. We are making slow progress, but at least in the right direction.

The sky is a deceptively bright blue and the sun is bright, but the seas are roiling and angry ... all frothed up, spray flying everywhere. Huge waves are breaking over the bow. The wind is shrieking like a banshee, a high shrill keen that vibrates through the rigging and is sometimes unnerving. With so much wind and wave action, we are uncomfortable captives below deck although NOT seasick.

So ... that's our day. What's going on in your corner of the world?