Marquesas 14

March 20, 2019

What a day! Highs and lows, ups and downs, births and deaths. Ok – the births didn’t actually happen today but it makes for a more dramatic opening.

Let’s start with births. A couple of days ago, in what I’m guessing might be a first for a Pacific crossing, we hatched twin Hatchimals!! Yes, apparently these overpriced toys with minimal play value found their way on board. I’m sure they were stowaways because what parent in her right mind would buy such a thing? In any case, they emerged just in time to hatch. They are swaddled in blankets and have found a nesting spot in our room on the desk I just cleared of other unwanted items.

Deaths? Well, we discovered another flying fish and I found the head of a very small crab on top of a toy box. So we’ll count those. But the real death was that of our beloved rainbow spinnaker. 

At approximately 8:45 this morning, she blew her head off (literally – the top of a sail is called the head) and laid down peacefully in the water. I held her for a moment while Joe loosed her earthly bonds and set her free to drift away to wherever old spinnakers go.

While it was 8:45, it is 8:45 Galápagos time and we have now crossed enough ocean that we should set our clocks back 3 hours. But, for various reasons involving watch schedules (who takes the extra hour?), meals, radio nets, etc., we won’t change time until we reach the Marquesas. So, at 8:45, the sun was just rising, making the death scene even more serene.

That all came to an abrupt halt when Joe went to put out the fishing line and saw the body of our spinnaker still dragging about 20 feet behind the boat. Sure enough, she had tangled a line in the propeller and was holding on.

So, a low moment became lower as we realized Joe had to go down (see how I’m working in that intro sentence here) into the water to reach the line and untangle it so we could use our engine when needed.

Of course he tried freeing it from above. John has been at the helm all this time and Joe had been helping as the “rubber band” (see yesterday’s post) and I woke up when I heard the commotion. Lucky Sunil slept through it after having done the 2-4 am watch. So John shifted the engine back and forth between forward and reverse, Joe climbed into the engine compartment and I pulled on the line at various angles and then there was nothing else but to go in. 

We dropped the mainsail to reduce speed and went head to wind and Joe tied a couple of loops around himself, looking like a caricature of a mountain climber, but in a swimsuit. He tied another rope onto the toe rail and then hung there in the waves as I watched (and didn’t take photos except one) as he bobbed up and down and looked like he was in agony, twisting and contorting to reach the propeller with waves splashing over his head. I think this was all for effect because all he said when he got out was, “If you wanted me to get out, you should have put the swim ladder all the way down.” I thought I had done well to lower it at all since I had anticipated that Joe would heel hook the toe rail and haul himself up the side of the boat, just to prove he didn’t need no stinking swim ladder.

Joe emerged unscathed and victorious and, once again, we watched the spinnaker slip away into the sea, but without the handholding or poetic moment because we had other things to do, like raise the main (it’s a BIG sail) and climb the mast (Joe gets all the fun!) to take down the spinnaker’s head to keep as a souvenir. Joe plans to wear it at Carnavale in Brazil next year. I think he might be overdressed.

But wait, there’s more! We’ve covered births, deaths, lows, down, and up (the mast) but not the high.

Cobin designed a PowerPoint version of Jeopardy (that boy is a keeper) so the girls could test their knowledge at the end of our unit on animals. Cobin and I wrote the questions and John and Sunil teamed up with the girls to study their animal books to prepare. In the midst of a heated battle between Team Animal (Tully and John) and Team Star (Marin and Sunil), John yelled, “Dolphins!” and we all ran to the bow to see the largest pod of dolphins we have yet to see on Charm.

With impressive animal knowledge coming from all, and a stunning example of the beauty of the animal kingdom on display, we wrapped up the night. Team Star took the win but we all recorded a high for the day.

Lighter winds and a change in sail plan means we won’t get to the Marquesas until late tomorrow night. Hopefully we can enter at night – Nica has promised to give us the scoop after they reach Hiva Oa around midday tomorrow.

By the way, for those wondering why we didn’t salvage the sail – it wasn’t for lack of desire. Spinnakers cost thousands of dollars so people don’t toss them into the sea. Picture a triangle attached at three points- one at the top of the mast and the bottom two corners attached to lines that we control from the cockpit. Now, slice the top off the triangle. Now this giant thing has fallen into the water but is still attached to the boat at its bottom two corners. At best, it is being dragged under us and is slowing us down. At worst, it is tangling itself around things and/or pulling other things into the water that its lines have ensnared. There is no possibility to pull it out – it is too heavy and the boat is still moving forward, making it even more difficult than impossible. The only option is to free it and hope it sinks and doesn’t cause problems for other boats or sea creatures.

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