Monday, August 15, 2011
Sunday August 14, 2011
Lat 16 degrees 27 min S
Lon 147 degrees 57 minutes W
Boat speed: 2.6 kts
Wind speed: 4.5 kts
Course: 196 degreees True
These last two days have been the gentlest sailing we have ever experienced in the South Pacific. Yesterday the seas were like glass and there was not a breath of wind... truly a gentle giant. Terrwyn gently came to a stop carried along only by the slight westerly current that flows through the Tuamoto Archipelago - otherwise known by sailors of old as the "Dangerous Archipelago". This Archipelago consists of a large number of atolls... approximately 40 of them with names and numerous others unnamed... all of them with land not higher than 15 feet and of course the ubiquitous palm trees adding another story to the height. One gulps when one thinks that many ocean swells can build to that and higher. Hence the name "Dangerous Archipelago".
As with much in this world that is dangerous this group of atolls is also extremely beautiful. Some cruisers would be aghast that one would sail across the South Pacific and not stop and anchor in one of these little atolls... each one being a coral reef many only having one small pass as an entrance to those who wish to stop awhile to enjoy their beauty. However, currents, wind, tide, and the resulting waves can make this gem of the pacific a sailor's nightmare if one is not extremely careful or terribly lucky. The unaware or careless may well end up as one of the marked or unmarked shipwrecks that dot this place.
We have decided to sail right through one of the 'slots' between the most northwest atolls and head straight for Tahiti and that is what we are doing as I write. As I have mentioned, yesterday was one of our most calm days of sailing even compared to our brief sojourn through the ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone or "The Doldrums") way back in Latitude 8 degrees North!! We were able to take advantage of the light airs (that is an understatment!) to hoist not only our beautiful new Hasse and Co. built bright red drifter (with our Triskele symbol proudly displayed) but decided to fly wing on wing, our original blue and white spinnaker. We had promised Hasse that we would be doing that and she had laughed and asked for photos if that were ever to happen... well, photos were duly taken and will be posted for all to see!
Our evening was surreal - our beautiful Terrwyn sitting on a sea of glass with the sun slowly sinking... and I suggested to Bill that he might want to go swimming - what a chance to do something that we never expected would happen... (note: I suggested that ONLY Bill go swimming). He jumped at the chance and we threw out a line from the stern, let down the swim ladder and in he went! Amazing - there he was swimming around the boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!! The water was so clear that it looked like he was suspended in liquid air! Then he suggested the unspeakable! He wanted ME to jump in too!! Oh no!! I only swim when it is warm, safe, certainly not in a depth of 4,500 metres and definitely not when our only place of security was sailing, albeit extremely slowly, away from both of us! No, no, no, not me... I couldn't risk my security and our safety!... but it did look so inviting and really not too too cool and the line from Terrwyn's stern was tied securely and Bill did assure me that all would be well. So I did!! Yes I did!! I gently let myself submerge into that glassy water and swam in the ocean with my Billy my side. Oh my! Bill then scooted up the ladder and went below for the camera as I hung onto the line... he urged me to let go of the line as it was long enough to grab when needed. So I did... forgetting that it was a sinking line and had soon sunk well below my reach! Panic ensued as I saw Terrwyn and my co-cap sailing away from me leaving me floating alone in this wide, wide DEEP - don't forget I told you it is over 4,000 metres deep- with numerous unknown sea creatures just waiting to gobble up this tender yet slightly bony bit of humanity!! (ok - I'm being a bit melodramatic here, but it was very unnerving) - of course Bill quickly pulled in the line and threw it back to me so I could grab it and I swam back to the safety of the swim ladder, Terrwyn and my Billy... gulp! After a big hug we shared hot, fresh water showers on deck and sat back to enjoy the sunset.
Our night continued with a full moon shining on the smooth sea and a gentle wind picking up so that we soon began to sail again toward our destination. Oh my! Another first in this adventure on this unpredictable giant!