6th week on the Pacific Ocean: Playing hard to get

You probably think: shouldn’t Ya be arriving somewhere around now? Well, that’s what Ya’s crew was secretly hoping for. But, between the squalls and the wind stills, it’s a good thing there’s rain and good food. Because Gambier is playing hard to get.


Day 1. Sat May 04 2024

Fruits on board is kind of the same story as for the vegetables, except that it ends up better.

Fruits could be found in the same market in Panama as the vegetables, and for very cheap,
so this was a great deal.

You already heard the sad story of our bananas that fell down during a heavy night, so we had to eat them quickly. Next to that, we had to trow away half a watermelon, a weird fruit we dont even now what it was, and here and there a piece that had turned bad.
When we see fruit that starts to turn bad we cut it in pieces and put it in the fridge, this saves a few days, and after some time it can turn into alcohol, but whats better than fresh fruit with a taste of alcohol ?

What we have left for the 5th and 6th week is: some oranges, apples, limes and the most important, 2 cans of peaches in sirup.
This means we are allowed to eat one fruit a day for the rest of the trip.
Isn’t that beautiful !?

So close and yet so far

Day 2. Sun May 05 2024

A 2nd reefed mainsail, a staysail and no outerjib, guess how many knots of wind… about 8 knots, this was our situation 2 nights ago.

It has been more than a week now that we could see Gambier getting closer and closer, we talked about it and tried to estimate our arrival date.
With our good speed we could easily do 125 miles a day and straight to Gambier, with this we would have been there in no time, but…this would be to easy.

Beginning of the week we saw on the weather reports that a big storm was getting its way to Gambier, we continued our route with caution. Day by day we could see the storm slowly disappear and be replaced by a soft wind of around 12 knots and less.
Our speed decreased slowly, the day before yesterday we made 93 miles, yesterday 83 miles.
We come now at our situation of 2 nights ago. Because of the soft wind, even the small waves we had would let the mainsail bang to hard, so we reefed, and because of the frequent squalls we had to constantly furl in and furl out the outerjib.
This makes our arrival date only shift away further and further.
We are still lucky the weather is good, we would even say great if it wouldn’t be for those squalls.

But we are not totally honest, yesterday night the wind picked up good contrary to what the predictions said and since then we have a wind of about 18 knots.
Will it stay like this or will we have other surprises ?

Nevertheless, morale is always on top and the arrival date is only a vague idea that fades slowly from our heads.
We will get there when time’s right.


Day 3. Mon May 06 2024

Water is an issue on every ocean going yacht. You could do perhaps 30 days without food, but 3 days without water – no way.
We left Panama with two tanks of 275 liter of water. This is drinking water. We use seawater for washing, rinsing, everything. Also the shower (with a little fresh water at the end). We don’t have a watermaker, because, like many devices, they have the tendency to break the moment that you really need them.
We need about 3 liter per person per day to drink. So together we could theoretically do 3 months with it. But in practice we use here and there a bit and we saw that after 5 weeks we had about 150 liter left. That comes down to a bit more than 10 liter a day. Still no worries if we have a week to 10 days before we are in Gambier (and we also have two 20 liter water bags in case of emergency).
This morning it was bad weather: squalls with rain. More rain. But also a chance. The Ya is designed that way, that all the water from deck ends up in the outlets in the cockpit. From there, we can close some valves and open another one, and all the water from deck will end up in the rain water tank. So we did this morning, after we cleaned the cockpit floor. It only rained 15 or 20 minutes, but we already caught about 100 liter.
So we have plenty. What to do with it?
We can take a very long fresh water shower?

Before the night

Day 4. Tue May 07 2024 04:13:00 GMT+0200

We have a routine to prepare for the night. We discuss it often with the dinner. If there is any chance on squalls or so, we set a second reef. We have to, because there is no moonlight these nights, so it is difficult to see them in time. In the night, we also try to sail the outerjib to lee, so not poled out to luff. Then you can furl it in quickly and easy in the wind shadow of the mainsail and staysail.

Now the practice of today. Today at 3 o’clock we noticed the wind dropped. So, at 4 o’clock we unreefed the mainsail. At 5 o’clock we ate dinner, and the number of clouds coming could suggest squalls, so that made us decide to put the reef back in. Indeed, at 6:30 a sort of squall passed us. But then, the sky was clear again and the wind dropped. Un-reefing again? No.
Lucky us, half an our later the wind picked up a bit again and now we are sailing on a friendly course and speed into the dark and starry night.

Hard to get

Day 5. Wed May 08 2024

What we feared is happening
The closer we get to Gambier the more the wind drops.Since this afternoon we have about 12 knots of wind wich by the way we are still very happy with.
Unfortunately it is gonna drop more and more until Thursday morning, where we will have about 2 knots of wind, a rarity. It will stay like that till friday morning where wind picks up a little. But not for long, Sunday the wind will drop again, at least that’s what the weather reports say.
What they also say is that we could make it to Gambier on Saturday night, but that would be if we are as fast as they predicted, if they are right about the weather, if we can follow the right route, if there are not to many squalls hitting us, if the currents don’t push us to much to the north, if…
And if not, we only have Saturday night to make it up to Gambier, because it will be windstill again from Sunday.

What can we do about it ? Try to make the best decisions on what course we make, anticipate what the worst situation could be, adjust the sails as best as we can, take profit of the wind we have right now and enjoy life on board.
Gambier plays hard to get.

Hard to get (2)

Day 6. Thu May 09 2024

The predictions give some windstills. We are going to sail right into it this night. We sail the Parasailor and still do 3.2 knots and we are very happy with that. Perhaps we can keep it up the whole night, we hope so.
But from then we will float on a still sea.
The first little wind will come next Friday morning. But it is not much, it is just to sail a little bit. These winds will come from the South and we will have to go Southwest for Gambier. With light winds, that will be impossible. We will get close to Gambier, but then again, from Sunday, there will be no wind again.

Nature dictates when we will arrive. But so far, Gambier is hard to get.

Still and busy

Day 7. Fri May 10 2024

Yesterday we hoisted the Parasailor and it proved to be a great and easy light wind sail. With only 8 knots of wind, Ya could do 4 to 4.5 knots. But this morning, around 4 o’clock, Pierrot had to admit there was too little wind even to keep the Parasailor full. Lucky Peter, in the early morning there came a tiny bit of more wind and Peter has been busy continuously, but he could keep the Ya make 2.5 knots on a Southern course for another 5 hours.
But then, it really was over. The ocean water became flat. We lowered the Parasailor. Ya started floating. There is a pretty high 2.5 meter swell that makes us roll. But we hardly noticed that. Pierrot started to clean the galley, Peter did maintenance on the rigging.
Suddenly it was late in the afternoon. Pierrot jumped with a back flip into the ocean. (Peter: “Do you have a diploma to swim in such deep water?”). He took a halyard and with a Tarzan scream he flew along the Ya and dived.
We ate a quick meal, because we also had to write this blog.

With wind still weather, you are always busy.