Lat: 7 02.818′ S
Lon: 124 11.592′ W

896 miles to go…

That’s the question I’ve been asking the last couple of days. It’s hard to imagine we’re only 2/3 of the way there. Two weeks at sea is a long time and we still have another week to go. It’s hard to imagine the early explorers spending months at sea and years of no communication with home.

Last night the wind really started blowing and the seas built up to a pretty good size, so we dropped the spinnaker and went with the jib. Our average speed was down to 5-6 kts, but that’s better than surfing down big waves at 10+ kts with the full spinnaker set. From the sound of the wind generator, I’d guess we’re getting 25+ consistently, which is fairly strong for the trades. We’ve been in and out of small rain showers since yesterday afternoon as well. The rain is light and short, and the small squalls look much more ominous on the skyline than they actually are when you pass under one.

Because of the motion, especially in these heavier seas, we spend a lot of time laying down in our bunk or on the salon settees. Standing requires constantly moving your weight and using a hand to hold onto something, and we’re on a catamaran. I can’t imagine the rolling motion in a monohull. Our arms are starting to feel a little atrophied (odd-feeling soreness at times), so we’re going to start exercising more. No, we’re not getting scurvy. We have a good diet and we take multi-vitamins as well when we’re on long passages.

Speaking of our good diet, the night before last we had some incredible burritos. After living in southern California, Lauren and I have come to appreciate the art of the burrito as it is practiced there in the small Mexican taco stands and restaurants. The burritos we had the other night could definitely stand up to them. They featured refried black beans, the rest of the Cheez Whiz, onions, homemade flour tortillas (getting better every time), rice, tomatillo salsa, and mung bean sprouts. Jose on S/V Stravaig had given Lauren some mung beans to use for sprouts so we can have some fresh roughage at sea, and they were great. Believe it or not, we haven’t had the same lunch or dinner twice since we left the Galapagos. That’s some impressive galley work. If only I did as well keeping the halyards up. (I’m almost done with my rope-wire splice that I’m hoping will keep the main up from the Marquesas to Tahiti where I can do something a little more permanent.)

I’ve been trying to spend a little more time on deck. After all, you don’t want to show up after a 3 week South Pacific voyage looking pasty from laying inside and reading all day. Yesterday the schools of flying fish were especially thick. They are scared up by the boat (even more so when we’re going fast like we have been lately) and fly out of the water on each side of the boat and away from it. At times yesterday, there were so many breaking out of the water in flight, wings flapping, that it looked like a shotgun had been fired into the water beside the boat. Some schools must have had 50-100 fish in the air at the same time. This morning, just after dawn, a pod of a dozen or so dolphins came to swim in the bow for a while. They’re the first we’ve seen since leaving the Galapagos and were definitely a welcome sight as they swam back and forth in front of the boat’s path. I went to watch them from the bow, and they’re definitely a happy contrast to the big swells rolling down on us. There were times you could look into the side of the wave and see two or three of them seeming to surf down the wavefront, but just under the water instead of on top.

We shared an exciting but somewhat embarrassing event with the rest of the civilized world last night — we listened to some NEWS on the BBC (Williams sisters in the finals at Wimbledon, Obama & Putin, shuffling troops in Iraq, Burmese Nobel laureate/dissident/prisoner, etc.)! The exciting part was hearing the news, which we really enjoy. The embarrassing part was that with two electrical engineers on board, we still haven’t rigged a decent antenna. We have a couple of portable shortwave radios, but we can’t pick up much with the built-in antennas. Of course we’d thought of this and bought a $100 SSB antenna and wired the feed into the salon, but it’s performance was mediocre to start with and now seems to be no better than the built-in antennas. We’ve known since before we left that we could build a simple wire antenna that would probably do just fine, but hadn’t given it a shot. Yesterday I used some wires with banana clips to clip the radio antenna to the mast, and wow! We could pick up all kinds of stuff much, much better. It seems like no matter where we’ve been we can pick up Radio China and the Voice of Russia in English. Although it’s great to hear English and fun to listen to, their news is shall we say “from a different perspective”? There’s plenty of it, but not much in the way of multi-sided discussion or analysis. As bad as our news is at times, it’s definitely better than state-censored propaganda. With China’s media freedoms inching forward at an almost imperceptible pace and Russia’s in full retreat, it will be interesting to compare them as we travel.

Today I started work on a crude antenna to add the “modernity” of news and music via the ether to the boat. We’ve pulled in stations from all over the world, including an afternoon discussion on Botox from New Zealand, conspiracy theorist talk radio from the States, the BBC, Radio Havana, and of course the ubiquitous Radio China.