DAY NINETEEN UPDATE: GO PESTO, GO!

WHEN: Friday April 15th 2100Local / 2200EST / 2300BRZ / 0200UTC

WHERE: 07:20S 138:33W

MILEAGE: 2,966 miles since La Cruz, MX (sailed), 141 miles to Taiohae Bay, Marquesas (straight line)

Today was the last full day out.
Yeah, we are about to make landfall. It will be sometime tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon.
Everyone seemed to be enjoying their last day his/ her own way. Adriana is anxious with the arrival and seemingly counting the miles. Raquel has been playful and talkative. Paulo got a little more quiet, but at the same time seeking more interaction. And as for the skipper, well he has been quiet and looking the horizon for most of the day. As I began writing this post earlier today, just after sunset, Paulo and Adriana were playing a board game together, Raquel was watching Mary Poppings on the DVD machine, and I was (still) watching the horizon. And Pesto was sailing happily and fast toward Nuku Hiva.
Yacht, Boat, Sailing Vessel, Home – however the definition, Pesto has been a great platform for this voyage, taking us with safety and comfort along the way. She feels so robust and is so forgiving in fact, and my trust on her grew so much, that we even got a little more daring. It wasn’t uncommon for me to wait until the last minute to reef sails upon the approach of squalls. The feeling of Pesto accelerating wildly as the wind picked up speed is exhilarating and she seems to like it. Adriana was getting a little nervous with this game
Since the day we approached and crossed the Equator, the wind has settled from the E to ESE, thus a Beam Reach to Broad Reach for us (wind direction of 90 degrees to 120 degrees respectively relative to our route). This is a sailing sweetspot and have been indeed some of the best days of sailing on this voyage. We configured Pesto as a cutter for this final leg – flying two headsails at the same time: the large one, the Genoa, and a smaller one, in between the Genoa and the Mainsail, known as Staysail. Pesto loved this configuration and has been outputting excellent speeds as a consequence. I believe the Staysail accelerates the airflow between the Genoa and the Main, creating a “jet” in between these sails. It is also a very flexible arrangement. When the wind gets lighter, the full genoa is out and the Staysail increases its efficiency. As the wind freshens, we roll the Genoa up and the Staysail takes over as the main forward sail.
In a long passage like this, the relationship between the skipper and the boat gets very close. By now I know Pesto’s every sound, and any variation in tone and pitch is a sign of something out of place. She also tells me when she needs the sails to be adjusted. From the way she moves, I know when she is over or underpowered, and can also tell whether we have a fair or foul current. It’s quite cool. Right now, she is a little jealous that I am here writing and not paying full attention to her, and is telling me she needs fine tuning on the Staysail. When I finish this up, and adjust the sails, I know she will give me an extra half knot.
We are now just 130 miles away from Nuku Hiva. There is a chance it will be already visible when the day breaks, and we are all anxious for the “Land Ho” signal.
But it is still a bright, moonlit night. Our last one out. I have a couple sails to adjust, a lovely yacht to be taken care of, and a silvery horizon to be observed for the rest of the night.
Stay tuned for the news tomorrow.
Pesto out.

DAY EIGHTEEN UPDATE: THE INCEPTION

WHEN: Thursday April 14th 2100Local / 2200EST / 2300BRZ / 0200UTC

WHERE: 05:23S 136:53W

MILEAGE: 2,783 miles since La Cruz, MX (sailed), 319 miles to Taiohae Bay, Marquesas (straight line)

It was October 2015 in San Carlos, MX, and we were having an unpretentious dinner with our friends from sv Sangvind. They’d come to pick up their kids and stayed over for drinks and a nice chat. And then, Franz asked the question that would change it all. Just one question but which nailed it on the head: “Why have you not considered going to the South Pacific instead of the Caribbean?”. On went Adriana and I explaining our reasons, but as we spoke, we realized our reasons weren’t strong enough. I don’t think he was trying to influence us. Rather, he was curious as to why us, already being here in the Pacific, were we planning to go all the way to Panama, then through the Canal, then on for 1,000 miles against the Atlantic’s Trade Winds and the Gulf of Mexico’s currents if we could, instead, simply “turn right” and reach Polynesia.
As Franz, Sylvia, Dylan and Jayden left that night, we stayed back with our thoughts. And the more we thought, the more tempting the idea of coming to Polynesia became. In fact, to me it felt very “logical”.
One month later, Adriana and I were sitting at a café in Miami, and it was then that we ratified the decision to sail to the South Pacific. It was a major change of plans, and a huge enterprise to be accomplished, requiring a lot of preparation on our part. Off from the backpack came a piece of paper, pen and an iPad, and we started to define a to-do list.
Fast forward to January, and we were in La Cruz, MX, executing frantically the items of the “Miami list”. There were times it was all work and no fun at all. But the faith that we’d made the right decision kept us moving on.
And here we are now. 2,800 miles into the passage, 300 miles to the Marquesas. We have seen Boobies, flying fish, sailed Trade Winds of the North and the South, stuff broke, stuff were fixed, and we dodged the wicked squalls. Still today, we were all four in the cockpit, being drenched by torrential rain, and reducing Pesto’s sails in the middle of a 35kt gust that hit us in the middle of yet another squall. Ordeal? Nah – after the sails were furled and Pesto back under control again, we all started laughing.
It is amazing how quickly Ideas can turn into Resolutions, and Resolutions into Plans. It is turning the Plans into Action that takes the most energy, but it is only that last part that really changes us.
We are wet, tired, and counting the miles one by one to reach Taiohae Bay. But above all, we are glad that Franz asked that question to us right there and then. We are glad to be here.
Pesto out.

DAY SEVENTEEN UPDATE: BLISS

WHEN: Wednesday April 13th 2100Local / 2200EST / 2300BRZ / 0200UTC

WHERE: 02:21S 135:04W

MILEAGE: 2,597 miles since La Cruz, MX (sailed), 500 miles to Taiohae Bay, Marquesas (straight line)

I believe today was the most pleasant day of the trip. A steady breeze pushed us all day long at a great speed. It made small white caps on the intense blue sea, without growing waves on it. The occasional white puffy clouds decorated an otherwise intense blue sky. The heat of the Equatorial sun was partially compensated by the gentle breeze. Pesto wasn’t moving too much, just forward, toward Taiohae Bay, which is what we want.
Whit all this for background, Adriana decided to make us a lazagna ( ! ), which was acclaimed enthusiastically by the whole crew.
Night fell and conditions remained, making for an even more pleasant scenario. Without the sun, the temperature is now perfect. The gentle breeze enters the cockpit and touches us. The sea is now silver, borrowing the majestic color from the half moon up in the sky.
Pesto is moving smoothly, almost as if at anchor. There’s very little noise. It is almost hard to believe the speedometer, which tells us she is thrusting at a constant 7-8 knots. She wants to take us there. She knows we need some rest.
Some two weeks ago, I mentioned that my body had adjusted to the watch scheme, and I was taking short “power naps” along the day and the night. However, since we crossed the zone of Wicked Squalls of the North, where I had to stay up all night many nights in a row, my body now adjusted to a new regimen of minimal sleep. As much as I try, I can’t get the power naps anymore. Even in a night like today, I can only sleep maybe 2 or 3 hours at most. The body feels tired as a consequence.
Tired but happy, and satisfied.
The Marquesas, a life-long dream, is getting closer by the hour. It’s less than 500 miles already and the pre-arrival anxiety is kicking in.
And that was the update for today.
Here’s wishing a happy 2nd half of the week to everyone.
Pesto out.

DAY SIXTEEN UPDATE: ZERO

WHEN: Tursday April 12th 2100Local / 2200EST / 2300BRZ / 0200UTC

WHERE: 00:18N 133:34W

MILEAGE: 2,412 miles since La Cruz, MX (sailed), 678 miles to Taiohae Bay, Marquesas (straight line)

Zero-zero degrees, zero-zero minutes North
Or South
It’s the same
It’s the Equator
And we crossed it today
I could go on with this post, and mention the other things we did along the day
But all that matters is that we crossed the Equator today
I thought of mentioning how it looks like here, and how it feels like here
Well, it’s actually all the same
But we are not anymore the same
For we crossed the Equator today
Everyone is happy onboard. Happy for the choices that led to here, for the achievements we made along the way, for having persevered the difficulties
Happy to have crossed the Equator today
Taiohae is now less than 700 miles ahead
But that is something we will deal with tomorrow
For today we crossed the Equator, and that is all there is to say
Pesto out

DAY FIFTEEN UPDATE: WET

WHEN: Monday April 11th 2100Local / 2200EST / 2300BRZ / 0200UTC

WHERE: 02:27 132:21W

MILEAGE: 2,262 miles since La Cruz, MX (sailed), 821 miles to Taiohae Bay, Marquesas (straight line)

Last night we got completely becalmed. I stayed up all night maneuvering upon the slightest puff of wind to try to extract every inch possible out if it. The reward: 25 miles covered during the whole night :-(. When morning broke we were still becalmed, and found ourselves surrounded by squalls. They were small, but many, and all around us.
That was insult on injury. Not only had we been becalmed for a long time, completely sleep-deprived, and now about to get wet !
The first squall made its move and as it approached, I devised a plan to cut across it and end up on the other side. It worked. When it got closer it brought us some wind, I pointed our bow toward its trailing edge, and we used its wind to flank it from behind, getting just a few sprinkles in the process. We watched the squall move away and fell becalmed again.
Satisfied with the first successful round we set for breakfast and Adriana prepared coffee – the first we have in two weeks. And then came the epiphany. As I enjoyed the scent, taste and warmth of my cuppa in the cockpit, still watching the squall go away, apparently frustrated for not having drenched us, it downed on me: the squalls were likely the ONLY source of wind we might have available today.
The thing is, we need to get South. Quickly. A benign wind was forecast to set some 60 miles to the South of our position then. I could but shouldn’t use the engine over that distance (we are managing fuel by the litter here now). But at the same time we were running late. And if we lost that bridge of wind across the Equator, we shall brace ourselves for a much longer passage.
So, I proposed my solution to Adriana. I don’t know if she was also sleep-deprived, or the coffee boost my presentation skills, but my pitch was successful. We pointed Pesto’s bow toward the next squall, aiming at a direct impact. Our plan for now on would be to ride the squalls, rather than avoid them. There were 3 of them lining up, and leading to a larger one near the horizon. If we were successful in riding each one of them, they might supply wind for us to cover the 60 miles we needed. But it would be wet for sure.
The tactic was simple: head to a point slight ahead of the squall’s track, aiming at a direct impact. Upon approach, turn right and run parallel to the squall for as long as we could, using its wind. Before the squall completely overtook us, cut across it – while it still supplied wind – get to the other side, and use the wind to catapult us to the next squall.
We tried our theory with the first squall and it seemed to work. In the end, we were wet, but being ejected toward the next one, as expected. From squall to squall we perfected our skill and soon reached the large one which we had seen before. It was a long succession of squalls that had stuck to each other. We positioned ourselves right in the middle of the first one and waited for it to arrive. It felt kind like standing in the middle of the tracks and waiting for the train to hit you. First came the wind, and then the rain. Pesto quickly accelerated to its fast-mode speed of 8-9knots. And like that, we kept on sailing all day and afternoon. Incessant rain and excellent winds, propelling us to where we wanted to go.
At one point we got used to the rain, and sat all four of us talking, playing, reading stories, singing, and even eating with the eventual sprinkle of water keeping our bodies wet under the cockpit’s protection.
That large squall acted like a train indeed, leaving us almost exactly where we were hoping to connect with the incoming winds. And guess what, the wind was there!
Night came, and another squall showed up on our path. I’d rather be sailing the wind we came here for, but these squalls were so useful to us today, that we are rounding this one with patience and gratitude.
We are hoping and wishing to have a much drier, and equally productive day tomorrow !
And the Equator is drawing nearer …
Have a good Tuesday.
Pesto out.