Sunday, February 28, 2010

Galapagos to Easter Day 6 - Watches

Pacific Ocean - 10 59'N 101 49'W - 1050 nm NNE of Easter Island

Watches are your life offshore. My watch schedule has me on from 7:00 to 9:30 at night and then again from 2-5 in the morning with an easy daytime watch from 10am to 1pm. This works quite well with my sleep schedule as I get a nice nap in the afternoon when I am naturally tired (only time I normally drink caffeine) and can sleep after my 5 o'clock watch as it is just still dark. I also have come to love my complementary Jet Blue "lights out" sleeping mask. They sure look stupid, but make a big difference when trying to sleep in or take a nap. When not sleeping you have to figure out something to do to pass the time. Particularly at night I have been getting to know our navigation program "Expedition" much better, playing with some of the advanced sail testing analysis functions to help refine our Polar diagrams. These tables tell the program how fast we can go in any given condition. The better the polar, the better the weather routing it can perform, and hopefully the better prepared we are for our trip. Unfortunately, the old garbage in-garbage out thing still holds true and it is proving difficult to get a decent weather forecast for this part of the world. We have seen steady 18-24 knots of wind since we left and while the direction has been pretty much dead on, the computer models only show 12-15 knots of wind...sorry have to pause a minute to throw two flying fish out of the cockpit before they make too big a mess...back now. Man those are smelly fish!

The rest of my time I have been reading mostly. I had hoped to spend more time doing some writing and editing for some electronics articles I am working on, but it has been a bit rough. I spent some time working on my French with Rosetta stone, but that is also hard with the sea-state. I took off my scopolomine patch on day 3 as I was having some adverse reactions (cotton mouth and dilated pupils). Haven't ever had that before, so maybe it was just a faulty patch, but I am doing OK (not perfect, particularly at night) without so haven't bothered trying a different one.

Since I titled this post "Watches" I also have to rant a minute about my apparent inability to wear a functioning watch. I would say my bad luck started about 3 years ago when I broke the crystal on two skagen watches in 3 days....don't even know how I did it, but apparently I hit things with my watch without really knowing. My bad luck continued in Panama when my Seiko's battery died. I managed to find the Panama repair center and had them replace the battery, but they had some problems reseting the hands correctly and I think managed to break the stem. 5 days later, after we had left the country of course, the stem fell out. I spent countless hours trying to get it fixed in Ecuador with no success as no one had the parts I needed. Sierra took it home to be fixed and I went on to my backup watch, a Optimum-time black rubber sailing watch with a broken band. I really liked the functions on this watch, so for Christmas asked for the nicer Ronstan stainless steel version. In the meantime, my jury-rigged band broke again so I was very happy when Matt arrived in the Galapagos with my new pretty watch. About 4 weeks later, when cleaning the bottom in prep for our first departure, the band broke. Luckily I found the watch on the bottom and e-mailed my friend Peter Muir at Ronstan in Newport who was happy to help get me a new band sent to Sierra. I had a fabric band that I was using with the black rubber watch that I transfered over to the new Ronstan. This worked fine for about 4 weeks, but two days ago, after reeling in the big swordfish, the watch face was blank. It doesn't seem to be the battery as the light turns on. I will try to open the back up once it calms down, and see if there is a reset button, but otherwise I will have to hope Peter can help get a replacement sent to Sierra for delivery to Tahiti. In the meantime, I am finding it very frustrating to not have a timepiece on my wrist, particularly offshore where your schedule is pretty important.

Lastly, thanks for all the e=mails and check in's with regard to the Tsunami. We were in the best possible location, in the middle of nowhere with the nearest land 13000 feet below us. I did some cool calculations on the wave based on the data that was send by my dad. The quake occured at 1:34 am EST and was forcast to reach Hawaii at noon local time. This means that the tsunami was forcast to move at 350 knots and would therefore have a wave-lenght of about 13 miles, taking about 2.25 minutes to pass by a location. This speed fits with the descriptions of when it hit the galapagos. Our friends Soggy Paws were in the harbor where they say about 6' of water left and came back in over a few minutes time. Apparently the town had been evacuated, but no-one thought to tell the boats in the harbor about the potential problem. On the other islands (Santa Cruz, and San Cristobal at least) the port captains had the harbors evacuated as well. If you want to read more about it, I am sure Sherry has updated her blog ( with much more information. If anyone has heard about any damage/status of Easter Island, we sure would appreciate a synopsis. If they had severe damage, we may want to divert to Pitcairn or the Gambiers sooner rather than later.

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