Cocos bound

I will send some more details about our time on Christmas Island in the near future.  Just sending a quick update to those of you following our daily progress so you can be here in the moment with us!

It is Sunday and therefore our cleaning day on Charm.  The kids have progressed from groaning and fussing and dawdling to just doing their jobs.  This is great except I still have more jobs than they do and I hate working alone.  So I have to decide when to embrace a new round of groaning and fussing and dawdling as I introduce a new level of work.  I continue to delay and it isn’t getting any easier to involve the children because we have Carl, the cleaning machine, on board.

Who wants to train a reluctant 8 year-old on the finer parts of wiping down walls when you can just turn the job over to a mature man who seeks out patches of mold as if they are evil incarnate?  Not I, said the mother.  In fact, it is so delightful to have Carl on the cleaning team that today I skipped my self-assigned weekly tasks because I felt that Carl was doing such a good job on his side of the boat that somehow my side would get cleaner just through his presence.  I told myself it was because it is a bit rolly down below but really I was just lazy.  That, and the indoor vacuum died during Carl’s turn and I don’t like lugging the Shopvac around.  Carl also likes washing dishes, is tidy, pleasant to be around, and enjoys the company of children (or has enough volume in his AirPods to drown them out).  In the words of my Irish friend, “He’s a real gem.”  Since he will be with us for the next 6 weeks, I’m glad he has so many redeeming qualities!

On to sailing news.  We have 17-20 knots of true wind, 12-15 apparent, from the SSE, hitting us square on the beam.  Sea state is mild with 1-2 meter seas.  We are currently averaging 11.4 knots with a high speed of 18.9 knots.  Our workhorse spinnaker (off a J22, I believe) is out in front and Joe double-reefed the main at sunset.   After 12 hours of sailing, we have covered 136 nautical miles.  That’s pretty decent for a sailboat!  While our speed and the bow waves we are generating (when we surf) preclude any sports activities on the foredeck, our high speed means we will probably be in Cocos in two more days.

We will be anchoring by Direction Island.  Cocos is an atoll so there are little bits of land sticking up in a rough ring-shape (some parts of the ring have sunk).  In the Tuamotus they called them “motus” but here they call them islands.  Actually I think motu means Island so I guess it’s the same thing.  Regardless, we are going to the uninhabited Island which is the only place with an anchorage.  This would not normally be a drawback – it’s part of the appeal of being in a boat.  But in one week’s time, we are doing a 2,300 mile passage and will need to feed 8 people.  Without the option of dining out, we will also need to feed people during the week we are in Cocos.  So provisioning becomes a larger than normal challenge.

Don’t get me wrong – we are in no danger of starving.  But on long passages, eating well can make a big difference in everyone’s daily lives.  We have stuffed Charm with everything we could buy at the well-stocked store on Christmas Island but everything there has been imported so it is all refrigerated.  If you take produce that has been refrigerated out of the fridge, it doesn’t last long.  And our fridge is the size of a dorm-room fridge.  Same with the freezer.  I recently conferred with the Austrians on Babsea and learned that they buy refrigerated eggs (when there is no other option) and store them outside the fridge!  I have been wondering if this was possible for a while but didn’t want to experiment on myself.  I still don’t want to experiment on myself but now I will feel less guilty experimenting on others because I have a reasonable expectation that it will turn out OK.

Outside the US, it is normal to buy non-refrigerated eggs and they last a few weeks (or longer if you do various things that require too much effort for me).  So eggs are a great staple to have on the boat.  Eggs, along with boxed, non-refrigerated UHT milk, make provisioning quite pleasant as they are usually available anywhere in the world.  We have tons of canned goods, rice, cereal, pasta and things like that.  It’s really just fresh produce and meat that we need.  If we had only adults, I could make do with canned veggies after the fresh ones run out.  But I’m trying to keep the kids eating veggies too and my picky eating kid only eats carrots, broccoli, lettuce and cabbage (which is really quite good in normal circumstances).

All three kids will consistently eat broccoli which we normally can buy frozen in most places.  Unfortunately Christmas Island was not one of those, They only get a supply ship every six weeks and not always reliably.  Once they’re out, they’re out.  I asked the store manager and he told me that the Chinese restaurant (where we had just finished a delicious meal of beef and broccoli) had just bought up the rest of their stock (probably to feed us!). They still had broccoli/carrot/cauliflower medleys in the frozen section at the store but I couldn’t see clogging up valuable freezer space with “lesser” veggies and I didn’t want to spend my time picking out the broccoli from the medley packs.  I’m gambling on Cocos having frozen broccoli but I will have to race the other boats to the store (reachable on another island via ferry) if I really want to get it.

Ah, the dubious joys of grocery shopping on islands!

You got me rambling about provisioning and this is once again longer than I intended.  This was supposed to be a succinct update but what fun would it be if we always met our goals the first time?

Photo is one of a series I’m calling “Study of Stefano sleeping.”  Stefano, an overtired World ARC staff member is hitching a ride with us to Cocos.  He got on Charm this morning at Christmas Island, helped untangle the mooring lines, napped, played with the kids, napped, played some more with the kids, napped some more, did his watch and went to bed.  Tomorrow he has promised to make pasta for lunch.  As an Italian, he almost has an obligation to do this.  Still, between him and Carl, we are quite content with our crew.

Other photo is of Joe, Carl and Stefano untangling the mooring lines.  I think mooring lines are like children’s hair.  I tell the girls that fairies must dance in their hair at night, otherwise how do they get so many tangles from sleeping?  Perhaps the mischievous mermaids are tangling our lines around the mooring balls in the same way.  It took 20 minutes to get free of our mooring this morning!

A beautiful little visitor we got on our boat. I got a cool Slo-mo video of this guy buzzing around the cockpit.

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