Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Big Passage

Five days…

Four days…

Three days…

Two days…

One day…

Blast off!

We’re ready to sail.

Well, not actually ready, a boat is never ready to leave the harbor, things to fix, things to clean, things to do. And the Galapagos Islands, especially Isla Isabela has such a protected place to call home with penguins and sea lions swimming around so that made it even harder to blast off. The Galapagos is 600 miles from South America, come on, almost two months ago we sailed 6 days nonstop from Western Panama to the Galapagos, which is a big thing ‘cause that was the most amount of days we ever sailed. Well, we’re about to break that record with The crossing, I mean The big one. The big Galapagos to the Marquesas type of crossing. Yes, we were mentally prepared.

On the second day we discovered we had a passenger with us, a tiny Galapagos leaf toed gecko. He looks kind of funny, but I like him in his home on a pineapple leaf.
As soon as we got to the seventh day I could truly feel that this was a big passage, no, a huge passage. I hadn’t seen land since the Galapagos and at that time, we had 1925 miles to sail before we reach the Marquesas. We made the crossing in 17 days, 16 and one half days to be exact, which is considered a lot less than the usual, that is 20 to 25 days.

Our boat, a Stevens 50 called Kamaya, is a high sturdy boat, and she sails super well when we have a lot of wind. Good thing because the first week of our passage it blew 20 to 35 knots. The second week we had a little less wind, 15 to 20 knots of wind the whole way, except the last day, when the wind was dead. The wind almost never dies in the middle of the Pacific, and that is why if you sail in the right area you reach the favorable trade winds allowing boats to go long distances in a relatively short amount of time.

We also rely on the trade winds to get us where we gotta go, the Marquesas. There is also another factor, the current. It loops around close to our destination. We decided to stay high up at 3 and 4 degrees North, because everyone else was experiencing bad current down south. The wind also brought rain, and it rained the first week.

Once Kai took a shower with dinghy water. Well, our dinghy is on the davits at the stern of the boat and the rain falls into it. But first let me explain Kai. He is crazy. For instance, Kai and I made this currency called giggleberries that we use to pay each other for meals and chores and at first he liked it but now he doesn’t because he is running out of money. Does that make any sense?

On the day he took a shower, the generator broke. Our battery didn’t have much juice left so we couldn’t even check into the Barefoot Net on our SSB radio because it takes up too much power. The Barefoot Net is an informal check in on the radio made up of about 20 other boats also crossing the Pacific. Every night we tell each other our latitude and longitude position as well the wind that that we’e experiencing. Some of the other boats have names like Scream, Freedom, Whoosh, Passages, and Victoria.

Victoria is another kid boat with ten year old twins, both boys. They also have a gecko.

Speaking of geckos, my Dad saw ours again on the cutting board in the morning. On the seventh day I saw it again hanging out under the navigation station.
In the navigation station we have a ship’s computer, SSB radio, a VHF radio, the switch panel, and the GPS chart plotter. The chart plotter is used for navigation, to find out where we are, our speed, depth, and course. We’ve also been trying to figure out our position with a sextant.

Every day one of us lines up the sun on the horizon, and once found, you say “mark!” Then the person down below checks the time and writes it down. As soon as the sun gets to the highest angle, we know it’s local noon. Then you do a bunch of calculations which determines your position. But you can’t use the sextant when it is cloudy. It was cloudy on the 10th day, and we couldn’t’ use the sextant, but I did see three rainbows, two in the morning and one in the evening. They were beautifully colored, red orange yellow, green blue, indigo and violet. We also found a flying fish in our cockpit.

Then, on the 11th day when the seas were calmer, we got the dough ready to make sourdough bread. We wanted to keep the dough warmer so we brought it to the dinghy. That is when we found it, the flying fish! It flew into our dinghy, which we had put up eight feet high on the davits for the passage. I have no idea how that fish could have flown that high into the sky. But I do know that it was so unlucky as to zip itself into Kai’s old shoe!

The next day, the sourdough pizza was ready and Mommy and I baked it. Alone, I made banana bread, which our grandma who we call Oma, Dutch for grandmother, bakes a lot. Then my Dad, nicknamed Bendon, baked sourdough bread. In case you’re wondering how my Dad got that funny nickname, it started when Kai was little and used to say total nonsense, like “wah- nah- nina- no- ne,” and stuff like that. One day I heard him say “dan- ding the bendon,” but I thought he said “daddy the bendon.” That was shortened to “the bendon” and finally “bendon.” And the name stuck.

We have set up a three day schedule for our crossing consisting of movie night, crepe day, chocolate day. Then it goes back to the start. We changed crepe day to baking day because we got tired of making crepes in the rolly seas.
The day after that, Kai and I made banana bread because it was baking day again.
On the fourteenth day, zziiippppppp went the fishing line. Fish on! Bendon started reeling the fish in. It looks like a big one, and we got it in, close to the boat. Wow -- a 4 foot long sailfish, juvenile. It didn’t have a real long bill because it was young. We decided to release it because we wanted to preserve billfish and we weren’t sure it would be tasty.

Kai and I played with our stuffed animals all the time and especially on this passage. We love our stuffed animals. We have about 20 of them, and we created a zip- line through the cabin. They go zziiipppppp down the line, almost as loud as the fishing pole. We took some rubberbands, and tied them to two posts. Then we tied a stuffed animal to the rubber bands, and dropped her. She was bouncing up and down, bungee jumping. And then we took a Lego wheel to reduce the friction on the line.
Finally, we made a cart, and rolled that down the line. The stuffed animals loved it. The cart was just like a foot rest or something. We made another improvement. We took some life jackets, and padded it all over so it wouldn’t . It was a success, until the line broke. That was the end of a really fun game.

Kai and I like to sleep with our stuffed animals. On the 15th Night, Kai slept with Fuzzy the bear outside, and it rained on them at five am. That morning, I made crepes, and guess what happened? Well, I baked savory crepes, with scrambled eggs and some salsa. I was about to take my first bite when, splash! A ton of saltwater came in through the hatch, and got my crepe and I soaked. I suppose that the sea reminded me that I needed a bit of salt on my food.

I slept outside that night and my Mom woke me up with the sunrise and a big surprise. Land!

Five days…

Three days…

Two days…

One day…

We’re finally there!


Seven C's said...

Yay! Finally there! But it sounds like you had a wonderful crossing on the way. That is fantastic! The splash in the crepes sounds disappointing and a bit funny at the same time. Great that you have such a good sense of humor about it :)

Ethan said...

Whohoo, finally made it. I'm glad you made it safely. I'm jealose. Only 4 more days of school till I get the sunshine, even then, not alot.
Hannah, (now wanted to be called Ziva, my middle name. )

Ramona said...

Thanks for the great story, Maya. It sounds like you had such a good time on the crossing that you might be willing to sign on for an even longer trip. Has the gecko left the boat yet or do you think he's going to continue on with Kamaya wherever it goes?
Congrats on being such a courageous sailor!!

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