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11-12 May 04

Tuesday, 11 May 2004

Excuse me, but I ordered the fish - & I want fries with that!
Excuse me, but I ordered the fish -
and I want fries with that!

Purrrrfect.

Wow.  What a GREAT day.  This is Arthur, again, checking in with all my hairless biped and furry feline friends around the world.  Being the happiest creature aboard Ocelot gives me the privilege of writing the daily missive.  It didn't start so well, but it got better.  Long after sunset yesterday Sue was attending me on the helm seat with my 8th meal of the day -- crunchy fish-flavored Friskies and water bowl, when she said, "This isn't working!"  So, she woke up Chris for his watch, roused Jon from a not-so-deep slumber and the three of them took down that very annoying big bright flipping, flapping sail they call the spinnaker.  Ahh.  Silence.  But no, can't let a cat sleep off a good meal.  Up goes the mainsail and out rolls the jib.  I'm prepared for a blast of wind from behind like we've had for the past few days, but what I get is a breeze in the face!  What's this?  "We're beating west!" says one.  Now, I don't know this human talk too well, but beating anything doesn't sound good to me.  The other thing we'd been doing, the "running" thing, well I understand that pretty well.

Beating West, across the Pacific!?!  That's crazy!
Beating west, across the Pacific!?!
That's crazy!

I guess beating isn't a favorite thing with the crew, either, because after they got over laughing about it I started hearing grumbles.  Something about not enough wind.  Something about can't lay their course (that sounds rude, but I don't think it is).  Anyway, the whiskers and tail of it all is that sailing into less than 10 knots of wind is VERY peaceful.  Very quiet.  (Except for the annoying beep beep beep of the Autohelm saying the wind has shifted AGAIN).  Let's just say, yours truly has had a most satisfying night.  The sea was calm enough for me to go on a jungle hunt: stalking moonbeams, hiding in shadows, leaping onto the cabin top, pouncing on all the little things that attack cats in the night.  Wonderful.  Great to stretch my legs, dig my claws into the teak, and patrol the deck perimeter for intruders.

Oh sure, every once in a while the intrepid crew, in an effort to make the Ocelot bend to their commands, had to do this thing they call tacking, which means whapping lines, kafluffling sails, the resounding WHACK of the boom moving from one side to the other, and human feet everywhere.  As for motoring, well, every time the word "engine", or "motor" comes up I've bitten the person nearest to me.  So far it's worked -- behavior modification was pioneered by cats, you know.

Otherwise, today has been heaven.  Purrfect.  I've been FAST asleep after my night of roaming.  Had about 5 meals.  Sipped water from the rain-catch buckets.  Visited my ablutions box without needing to balance on all fives the whole time.  Bliss.  Pizza with savory sausages was cooked for lunch (love the smell, even if I don't eat human food).  And the sky is a glorious blue, mirroring the clear blue of the ocean.  Now if I could just get the crew to quit griping about sailing north when we want to go west, and only going 33 miles in 24 hours.  As Chris says, the 33 miles isn't SOOO terrible if it weren't for the fact that in the past 18 hours we've progressed only 1 mile closer to Tonga.

Here are the noon stats:

May
2004
South
Latitude
West
Longitude
Day's
Run
Miles
to go
Wind
Speed and Dir
 Comments
Wed 5 16 27' 152 15' 0 1,248 8-17@140  Start in Maupiti
Thu 6 16 19' 154 38' 145 1,114 12-20@165  Nice sailing
Fri 7 16 38' 157 28' 166 950 20-35@165  25kt winds, surfing
Sat 8 16 41' 161 01' 145 805 20-55@165  55kt squalls in am, 30kts all day
Sun 9 17 22' 162 40' 160 647 5-15@150  Sunny, light winds
Mon 10 17 18' 164 16' 95 557 5-10@60-120  Sunny, hot, and light
Tue 11 17 10' 164 36' 33 539 4-7@60  Sunny, hot, FLAT

May your anchors be down, and your water bowls full -- Arthur and Sue, Jon, Chris, and Amanda


11-12 May 04

Wednesday, 12 May 2004

Sue, with our stalk of Maupiti bananas, getting ripe too fast
Sue, with our stalk of Maupiti bananas, getting ripe too fast

Hi Everyone,

Sue here.  The South Pacific is putting on a gorgeous fall day for us with the ocean so dazzlingly blue it is mesmerizing to look down into its depths, the sky a palette of pale blue rising to deep blue overhead, and the sun sending shimmering patches of yellow light onto the deck and into the hatches.  For other colors we have to look to the orange, red, yellow and black of the spinnaker, the fluorescent orange of the overboard rings, and the white and gray of the deck.  In the shade of the cockpit or down below a soft breeze blows over our skin in a delicious caress.

Although Ocelot is now basically becalmed, we are not still.  The ocean swells and rolls gently beneath our hulls, its surface varying from glassy sapphire to a ruffled royal blue, to a Picasso-like painting of gray and navy blue ovals and ellipsoids.  We have tried a variety of sail combinations today to make the most of the 3.5-6 knots of wind that have crept over the sea.  Last night we used the main and jib to work our way gently into the west wind until a squall forced us to jibe the main (the wind going behind the sail), and we had a few hours of wing and wing sailing downwind at 3 knots.  This morning we flew the spinnaker until it collapsed in the still air and lay against the mast and spreaders like a deflated balloon.  Finally the wind departed entirely and we fired up the starboard engine to 1800 RPM, enough to move us at about 4.5 knots and charge the batteries that have been keeping the lights, instruments, and autopilot working all night.

The crew (less the Admiral) of the Good Ship Ocelot
The crew (no Admiral) of the Good Ship Ocelot

We have spent the day doing school work, computer work (with all the extra electrons from running the engine), and some diesel maintenance: Chris changed the fuel filters on the starboard engine.  We have read many pages in our books, napped some, and eaten such delicacies as Scandinavian kringele with banana filling, cold potato soup, and now falafel and homemade pita bread for dinner.

The weather in our part of the central South Pacific is not promising wind for many days.  There are several big lows south of us disrupting the normal Trade Winds but bringing strong winds of their own for those sailing south of 20 degrees south.  We are heading west, or northwest, as the wind allows.  We hope to make landfall in Tonga, but American Samoa is a second choice if the winds from the low pressure systems south of us bring bad weather too near us.  For now we are thankful for the light sailing breeze when we have it, and for the continued ability to use the "iron jenny" as a sailboat's inboard engine is known.  Our latitude stats show how fluky the winds have been: we've often chosen some motion in some direction, over NO motion at all.  Hence, the look of an inchworm moving across the chart.  The "Miles to go" stats below are still for northern Tonga.

Here are the noon stats so far:

May
2004
South
Latitude
West
Longitude
Day's
Run
Miles
to go
Wind
Speed and Dir
 Comments
Wed 5 16 27' 152 15' 0 1,248 8-17@140  Start in Maupiti
Thu 6 16 19' 154 38' 145 1,114 12-20@165  Nice sailing
Fri 7 16 38' 157 28' 166 950 20-35@165  25kt winds, surfing
Sat 8 16 41' 161 01' 145 805 20-55@165  55kt squalls in am, 30kts all day
Sun 9 17 22' 162 40' 160 647 5-15@150  Sunny, light winds
Mon 10 17 18' 164 16' 95 557 5-10@60-120  Sunny, hot, and light
Tue 11 17 10' 164 36' 33 539 4-7@60  Sunny, hot, FLAT
Wed 12 16 44' 165 42' 56 483 5-12@60-170  Sunny, hot, very light winds

Fair Winds  --  Sue, Jon, Chris, Amanda and Arthur (who's still happy with the mellow boat motion)

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