Tonga 3

May 22, 2019

We are motorsailing. It’s rare for us on a race leg but the winds are continuing to be light and at some point, we have to decide if we want to spend our time gazing at the sea or being in it. 

Also, the forecast shows that a large swath of zero wind is approaching, with arrival in our area on Thursday afternoon. I have never actually seen a section of zero wind on the computer model and had to ask Joe what that giant purple pink section was that was overtaking our map. He didn’t know either. We consulted the wind color table and the purple/pink color means 0 wind.

So, we would like to avoid that. It feels pretty close to zero wind right now and we have 10 knots. We dropped the mainsail today to try just using the spinnaker. That lasted about 7 minutes and then we dropped the spinnaker because it was just flapping around. As we were tidying up, Joe said, “We can put the main up or we can go swimming.” Swimming? He said, “All the sails are down and we aren’t going anywhere so we can take turns.” We threw a line off the stern so we would have something to grab and jumped in. We have done this a handful of times and it is always exhilarating to swim with the awareness that you are one weak moment away from being part of the ocean. Probably someone would turn the boat and go back for you but better not to test it. The water was gorgeously blue and clear and delightful.

All the kids and adults (apart from Griselle who has to refrain to let a wound heal) enjoyed it but Cobin was particularly delighted. He kept trying new dives and jumping in over and over again. I told him that he could actually jump off the boat anytime we are anchored – he didn’t have to wait for us to be in the middle of the ocean – but he just laughed and ignored me.

Chris taught a great Spanish class, with the kids making their own “Wanted” posters in Spanish. Cobin had a list of nefarious crimes, including bombings, arson, and stealing all of Amazon’s cash and using it to build a drone to fly a sign to tell them they could start again from scratch. Marin just stole a kid’s hat. Tully did Spanish with Griselle, a native of Puerto Rico, until she got hungry.

Joe caught a giant fish (biggest yet on Charm) and everyone was excited when he landed it. I reminded him that our fridge and freezer were full and we had two meals planned already so that our meat wouldn’t spoil. A disappointed Joe wrestled with the hook in a very toothy mouth and finally freed the fish. Then he shoved it down the steps and it got stuck on our swim ladder. It wallowed for a painfully long time as Joe prodded it with the net until it landed in the water. I was certain it had been too long but we all saw it give a flick of its tail and disappear. We can’t figure out what it was – if anyone can identify it from the photo, let us know!

Our friends on Sky are slowly closing the gap to 3.3 nm. Their engine must be faster than ours! Joe has been talking to them on the radio all day but it has been all one-way conversations. They don’t seem to be listening to the VHF channel that the ARC normally monitors. Too bad, they missed out on an invitation to our swimming party with cold beer and grilled hot dogs. We didn’t actually have grilled hot dogs but if they had found a way to come, we would have found a way to make them!

In case DJ’s mom is still reading our blog, thanks for being concerned about Tully. She had a fever when we were at the end of our Pacific crossing and I wrote about it. When we went to a welcome party in Hiva Oa, DJ was there with the Sky crew. I asked how his crossing was and he said, “We are all fine. But my mom wants me to find out if Tully is OK.” It’s so nice that mothers other than my own are also worrying about us. I’m sure it keeps us safer! Tully recovered quickly and has been fine ever since.

None of you missed out on yesterday’s uninspired dinner but today’s salad of leftover marinated tuna with peppers, red onions, and avocado was sublime! Tonight we had New Zealand lamb chops (sorry baby lambies) and roasted veggies. It’s nice to shop in a French country with proximity to good meat-producing countries! Lots of good cheese, wine, and lamb available. Too bad that’s all in our past – it will be interesting to see what Tonga has available.

I’m off to breathe diesel fumes and listen to the main bang around as we make our way downwind, gybing back and forth in 8 knots of wind. It looks like more of the same for the next 327 miles.

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