Each day gets easier and easier. You take the pros with the cons and eventually it just becomes life. You get use to the movement on board, high gusty winds, the odd rogue wave or two in the cockpit, holding on all the time, reading, talking, lounging, star gazing, bird watching, squalls, rainbow sightings, cooking, eating, wave riding, speed watching.......I am really surprised. Today as we sped along at over 7 knots, I actually cleaned the bathroom and washed the floors in the boat and then scrubbed down the cockpit. Life goes on.
We are all still super hungry all the time. Graham made two really fantastic meals today. The first was fresh fish sticks made with Alex's first fish of the trip. A small Mahi Mahi that he caught yesterday. He double breaded the fish fillets into sticks and did a fry. OMG it was good. The second meal was a dish called, "doubles". It is our favorite meal but it takes him quite a bit of work. It is basically a chickpea curry sandwich. He makes the curry a day ahead so it sits and gets really flavorful. Today he made up the curry bread and then fried up the bread and made up the doubles. Now they will never be as good as Mama Thackoories (say Hi to your mom for us Brian) but man did they hit the spot!
At 4 pm today we hit 1000 nms and our 1 week out mark! Very exciting. We sailed side by side with Gromit in celebration. They were so close we could talk back and forth. Probably closer than the captain would of liked :-). It was a lot of fun. It was so great to see them all up close and not just speak on the radio. I got some great pictures of them. The kids got out the air horn and fired off a couple shots.
It has been a great learning experience budding boat on such a big ocean. I don't think any of us realized how much work it would be to try and stay together. Gromits boat is 47 feet and ours is 43 feet. Our boats sail very differently and go faster based on different points of sail. Given Gromits size they could beat us in most races though. This means that we have to work at adjusting sail plans to maximize our speed and also set up their sails to match us. We check in with each other every few hours and see what our average speeds are and they try to match. When weather kicks up we reef and we check back in to see speeds etc. The first 4 days or so, there was the steep learning curve. We did a lot of cat and mouse which was a bit tiring. One night Gromit ran on only their main waiting for us and then the next night we even got way ahead and had to run on only our main. Artemo for some reason goes really fast when the wind is behind her. Anyway by day 5 I thing we had the hang of it and now we are both steering via our windvanes and we set our course based on the wind and the boats just do the rest! I am constantly surprised that Artemo is totally on the rum line to Marquesas. No matter what the wind does. It is freaky. She definitely knows the way.
Tonight as the sun was setting Graham and I were down below on the SSB radio net. Other boats that are underway to Marquesas check in and give their coordinates. As we were listening the kids start yelling they have a fish. I look up just as they lose it and then all of a sudden we see the other handline start unraveling at a crazy rate. Amelia grabs the line and almost cuts her fingers. Alex grabs the hand reel and can barely hold on as Graham scrambles up the stairs. He grabs hold and is in shock at the load on the line. Well you can just imagine the frenzy that picks up on board. We realize it is huge so I go to grab the Tequilla (still have a bit left! thanks Martha) and the gaf. I fasten the harness on Graham and the headlamp. Alex gets his harness on. We relay the play by play to Gromit and then finally the fish is close enough to the back of the boat to see it. Graham and Alex are yelling and the smiles and excitement on their faces was better than anything. They said it was at least 5 feet long and looks like a wahoo. Just as they are bracing themselves to pull it in the 300 pound test snaps and they watch as the massive fish takes a final leap in the air and is gone. SO SAD!! Unbelievably SAD. You can not imagine how hard it was to lose this fish. We spent the next hour re-living the course of events and examining the line and dreaming of the one that got away.
Tomorrow at sunset you will catch Alex out on deck fishing, convinced that he will catch that BIG ONE! Stay tuned....