Alone Like a Rolling Stone

Who goes into the desert, must expect the sun

The 24th day has come and we are still looking for the southeast trade wind. Not only are we making very slow progress, no, we've already had days where we're not moving from the spot. I jump into the calm ocean. Blue, clear, at this point a little over 3000m deep. With a spatula in my hand, I free the hull from fouling. So far the Coppercoat has worked quite well. Here in the Pacific, this no longer seems to be the case. The hull is full of shells. While I am scratching, a huge turtle nudges me from behind. "I suppose you don't mind if I pick up my lunch here". "Of course I don't mind, but maybe you know the one who is in charge of the wind here. You could put in a good word for Katinka." "Let's see what I can do," and she disappeared again. Those who don't disappear are the beautiful dolphinfish around the boat. There are so many that you can't count them. With a sufficient safety distance, they eye what I am doing. I wonder why we haven't caught any yet and decide to change tactics.

Light wind sailing on the Pacific

After cleaning the hull, I unpack my fishing rod and mount a flasher. A strong line I have on the reel. At the third time I have my first bite. With 85cm it is a considerable fellow, which supplies us for four days with fish. The Mahi Mahi tastes great anyway and we are happy to bring a little variety into the kitchen. I don't know who the turtle was talking to, but he didn't seem very enthusiastic about the idea of giving us some wind. Nevertheless, he seems committed to the turtle, and so it happens that we get at least some wind. Now we move, but do not get beyond lousy distances of 30 nautical miles. Only the squalls, which appear in this area, numerous, catapult us always for one hour with five miles ahead. Due to the drastic increase in wind, followed by heavy rain, the sea then turns again and again, into a potato field. Imagine driving from Munich to Hamburg across a potato field, always across the furrow, and then imagine doing this seven times longer, that's how the trip feels, from Panama to the Gambier Islands, after a squall, when the wind has long since fallen asleep again, and only the residual swell is still doing its thing. On the 21st day, we have reached our first 1000 of 4000 nautical miles. The skipper treats himself to a Hefeweizen, which he carries in the bilge especially for such occasions.
The further south we get, the more consistent the wind becomes, although it has not yet increased strongly and we are clearly behind our schedule. Our bodyboat, the Mare, seems to cope better with the light wind conditions and is a good 100 nautical miles ahead of us. Nevertheless, we are in contact every day via Iridium and exchange information. Ultimately, however, everyone must manage the route itself and I find our old lady, beats there not bad. Some will ask themselves, what do you do on a boat all day? Well, you don't get bored. Apart from the fact that you are permanently tired due to the night watches and the shortened sleep phases, the squalls keep you on your toes or, like today, a fishing boat. Over the radio he gets our attention even before we get to see him. Since the captain speaks only Spanish and ours is very poor, no real communication comes about. This is also not intended, only the attention, seems important to him. He stands on our course line and zig zags. Two miles before us he turns off and drives away. Somewhat astonished we continue our ride. Two miles later, I am amazed that seagulls can walk across the water. Immediately to port, an unmarked fish trap then appears, sticking out of the water less than a foot and the size of half a container. A little more to port and we would have bumped into it. What is already difficult to spot during the day becomes a deadly danger at night. We can only hope that the fisherman finds all his fish traps again and has collected them by night, or that we have left his fishing area in the middle of the silent ocean. Just such events, are the matches between the eyelids, which keep one awake despite overtiredness, and which do not let boredom arise. With today we should leave the Calmenzone so slowly and on 5° south, the edge of the southeast trade wind have reached. Then hopefully the catching up phase will begin. We will see. Until then, always fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip.