First, a big thanks to my brother Kyle who did me a huge favor this afternoon. I had made a commitment to a friend and didn’t follow through. Kyle helped me pick up the pieces and finish it. We are so lucky to have the support structure that we have. My mother regularly makes phone calls on our behalf and takes care of various tasks. My sister and all of Joe’s side of the family give us moral support in the form of cheers and likes and notes and e-mails. Our neighbors, Phil and Laura, are managing our house rental and our stuff that appears and disappears with various “mules.” Heather and the crew at CityROCK are running the gym in a way that gives us peace of mind as we make our way around the world. Then there are all of you that are reading this and sending kind words and thoughts of support our way. We cherish them all and are flattered that people are interested in following us.
So, in the words of the head teacher at the school in Niue, please take one arm, reach around to your back, give yourself a pat and say, “Well done, you!”
In tonight’s episode, we all enjoy a peaceful crossing to Indonesia from Darwin, Australia, recording our slowest speeds yet! We are 2.5 days and 400 miles into a 945-mile crossing and 7 knots now seems like a very respectable speed. We have bandied about in the 6-7 knot range since starting but spent a good 8 hours in the 2 – 3 knot range. That was new territory for Charm and not particularly welcome. Gone are the glory days of easy 10 knots in flat seas. But at least if we’re having to endure light winds, we get the light-ish seas that go with them. It has been a very pleasant crossing and we expect more of the same in the next few days.
Larissa and Tyler joined the crew of Charm in Darwin and are making positive contributions with their quiet cheerfulness and intelligence. Tyler, our second physicist on board, has given two mini classes (the preferred length) at Charm School. We’ve learned about electrical attraction and repulsion via the medium of balloons in the hair as well as the phases of the moon and its behavior relative to the sun and earth. Apparently, I was the only one in the dark about the details because the kids kept grabbing the globe and the moon (a mandarin orange) and spinning them and rotating them to Tyler’s approval. I think I finally have a handle on why the full moon is visible so much longer than the other phases. It’s amazing how much knowledge you can make it through life without. Larissa has joined me in my workouts at sea and we both enjoy the constant Bosu-ball-like challenge that doing exercise on a moving boat presents. She and Tyler are also a big help with meals and we are eating well, as always.
We purchased a new toy in Australia and it has found more uses than I had imagined. It’s a large punching bag, weighted by water. Tully calls it a giant microphone. Cobin has invented a new game of “giant baseball” with it. The picture probably explains it best. You just swing the giant microphone at the ball that is attached to the boat via a soccer trainer and, voila, instant ab workout and fun in one! We have many other ball games and often enjoy rotten fruit tennis or baseball but so far, this one has elicited the most squeals of joy from Cobin. Since he will become an official teenager in two days, we take these squeals where we can get them.
School is back in session and I have tried to ease the kids and myself back in slowly. We did Story of the World and the kids made disturbing “Plague Doctor” masks which we may reuse as Halloween costumes. I finally worked up the nerve to use my Plaster of Paris on board and we now have some lovely rectangular pieces of plaster with shells and glitter in them. I’m not sure where to put them to keep them from disintegrating into piles of plaster, shells, and glitter, but we will enjoy them while they last. The girls are very excited about Saturday since it is Cobin’s birthday and we are going to surprise him with no school and all-day screen time (Don’t tell!). Tully has already revealed the surprise at least once but Cobin didn’t believe her. I’ve told the kids, “We have school every day unless we don’t,” and I think Cobin is convinced that his birthday is not a sufficiently good reason to cancel school.
Joe never ceases to amaze me with his sailing knowledge and creativity. We’ve been sailing dead downwind for an extensive period on this leg and it’s not Charm’s favorite tack. Normally we try to avoid it but since that’s the way the wind is blowing along the rhumb line, that’s the way we’re going. We have a nice spinnaker that we bought from Danica that is good up to 20 knots and isn’t as finicky as our other spinnakers. We have been flying that for about a day and a half. Joe put three reefs in the main which means we have about half of that sail up. This is allowing wind to get to the top of the spinnaker but also catching the wind that was blowing under the bottom of the spinnaker, which flies about 15 feet off above the deck.
So, we’re going the same speed or faster as we were with the whole mainsail up but the spinnaker is behaving better and we’re more efficient. Because the mainsail is way off to the port side (and held there with a preventer), the whole top of our cockpit area is temptingly vacant. Basically, we have a roof over our back porch that has just been revealed. Normally our boom is hanging over this space and it isn’t an obvious play area. But today, with the new sail plan in place, the girls discovered a delightful new place to play. They had a great time dangling their legs off the back and hanging down over the edge to tease the rest of us.
Oh – we had a nice visit from a pod of dolphins yesterday. About 20 of them played with Charm for twenty minutes and gave us lots of opportunities for watching and filming them. After another dearth of wildlife viewings in Australia (apart from our first day when we saw several whales), we were beginning to think that the oceans have emptied out. Other ARC boats are catching fish so we have thrown out our lines again and maybe we will get lucky. I have a full supply of sushi fixings just in case.
That’s it for now. It’s a gorgeous night on the Coral Sea and everyone is sleeping but me. I will get my chance soon enough but for now, the wind is picking up and we are back into 8s and 9s on the speed indicator. It’s a welcome change from last night’s 2.3 knots!