Monday, April 14, 2008

Starry, starry night!

We had a good night last night! The wind had been light all day and we struggled to hold a course with enough 'westing' in it. As usual, just before sunset, the wind shifted a bit and we watched to see what it would do for the night. First it piped up and as Toketie was carrying full canvas, she came alive, put her rail down and dug in. However, we were wary now, having been caught before 'with our pants down' so to speak! That would be when we are called up to do the Chinese fire drill on the
foredeck, usually in pitch darkness after not having gotten enough sleep, wrestling the sail to put another reef in and settle the boat. It goes just as fast with the reef in, if the wind is strong, but the motion is more comfortable, not to mention the wear and tear, on the gear and on the two insignificant little beings that have come along for the ride.
So out we go, before the sun sets, and tie in one reef. That settled things down! Of course, within a half hour, the wind had gone very light again. It was dark now, as the daylight comes and goes suddenly in the tropics. But our old friend the moon was back, waxing in the west! Linda was off watch and sleeping so I clambered out forward, with a harness on of course. That was our agreement, if I had to go out on deck at night, I would wear the harness. That way she could sleep without the
fear of waking up to find herself alone on board! And me, well that would make a story I would probably never get to tell! Anyway, I digress....I shook out the reef and adjusted the vane, tied the preventer on and sat back. Toketie rocketed on through the night, with a very gentle swell off the port quarter and only about 10-12 knots of wind, we were holding a pretty steady 5 knots.
It was the most awesome, cloudless night with a billion stars overhead and right down to the horizon. The milky way looked like someone had sprayed it on with a giant airbrush! We spend our watches mostly in the cockpit now because it is warm out and so comfortable sitting out there. Tarun's faint nav light was just visible, when she rode up on a swell, about 8 miles west of us and as the night proceeded and dawn came, we found them alongside about a mile off our starboard beam. So we made good
time last night and had a very comfortable ride.
The boats ahead who have anchored in Fatu Hiva report that the anchorage is deep, 60 to 100 feet and local winds come up from the mountains and blow out the bay. Some of the 17 or so reported boats have left. It rains heavily for a short period every day so if you have some way of catching it, you can fill your water tanks! Talk about 'mana' from heaven! We will be working on rigging something. No contact with any local gendarmerie! A navy boat was in the bay and ferrying back and forth but
paid no attention to the yachties. The locals do not accept US money but will trade canned goods for fruit. They would like alcohol but it is not recommended and we would prefer not to affect the local culture in that way. Someone organized a dinner and about 27 people from the yachts attended on shore.
We have just over 200 miles to go so, if the winds hold we expect to make landfall early Wednesday morning. According to 'Charlie's', it has been rumoured that the bay was originally named "Bay des Verges" (Bay of the Phalli) by early explorers because of the shape of the rocky pillars. Supposedly the missionaries disapproved, and inserted an "i" making it "Bay des Vierges" which translates to Bay of the Virgins!!!

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