Toodaloo Tuvalu. Our destination is now Luganville on Espiritu Santo in the island nation of Vanuatu. This passage has been a frustrating one to say the least and the change in destination is a result of our inability to make our way east. There is a strong equatorial current that was sending us one to two knots west (and sometimes northwest). Together with the lack of any wind, or when we got some, wind that would take us south but not east, we were just killing too many hours trying to point high and get that easting. So we decided to throw in the Tuvalu towel. Luckily, we hit the country on our way up to the Marshall Islands and spent almost a month there, so at least we have seen it. It would have been a good stop and rest – but now we have added another almost 800 miles and will head to Vanuatu which was to be the next stop on our itinerary.
After that tough decision was made, it was a bit easier to sail knowing we didn't have 100 miles to make up to the east. That was how far we had drifted off our course line over the almost two week period of time we have been out here. The sailing is a mixed bag – some days we sail beautifully and comfortably and make progress. On other days, there is absolutely no wind so we take down our sails because they crash back and forth, doing both the sails and our nerves no good. And sometimes we avoid squalls, go through squalls or simply stare at big ugly weather around us and listen to the thunder. We are getting so good at putting sails up and down, in and out that we could do it in our sleep and have once or twice.
Today is Wednesday, May 14 and we left Majuro two weeks ago. We left with a very small moon and now it is almost full. We can only imagine what our water line looks like – we are probably a fish aggragating device by now. Our bodies have adjusted quite well to the overnight three-hour sleep patterns – that is when we can sleep. The roll when we have no sails up is quite miserable and every rattle on the boat can be heard. When we are sailing well, it is quite comfortable though warm.
At last we saw some marine life. Two whales came by for a morning visit at sunrise. They were quite close to the boat and gave a good and startling blow so they were easily spotted. They didn't stay on the surface long enough to get a good identification – but our guess is that they were minke whales. They didn't stick around long. A bird has also adopted the boat. He kept trying to land on a solar panel right next to the wind-generator. Another boat that is nearby, "Segura" had their wind generator taken out the other day by a bird and are now deficient on power. So Barbara was waving some red napkins at the bird trying to keep it away. It was a wily critter though and as soon as she gave up – the bird came back. Since then he has sat on our anchor, the rolled up dinghy, the floats we use to lift our anchor line off coral, the outboard, the solar panels on the bimini, the solar panel aft, the back deck – in other words he's just made himself quite at home throughout the boat – even trying for the cockpit. He has no fear of us whatsoever. We've named him "Toro" after Barbara waving the red napkins and him simply coming at them like a bull! He disappears for part of the day and returns to the boat at night – so far for two nights.
We now have 630 miles to go to Vanuatu as of this point. At this rate of sailing (and with the predictions of no wind for the next two days) it may take us another ten days! We celebrate any speed – even three knots gets us excited. So far we've traveled at least 1000 miles – sometimes in the right direction!
We're not alone though. There are several other boats trying to do the same. Some got into better wind pockets or squalls than others – but for all of us it's been a slow and frustrating trip. But the reality is that at this point, we can't do anything but keep trying to move the boat forward in the right direction and get to Vanuatu at some point. Luckily we are good on food supplies – though a fresh fish would be tasty and now there is plenty of room in the fridge!
Sorry entries have been few – just too much of roll to want to spend too much time in the cabin writing.