Passage to Ecuador – Part 2

309 miles to go…

My fingers are pruned and I have wet curls stuck to my forehead. Not a good look. It has been raining for over 48 hours and no amount of foul weather gear or raincoats can keep us dry. Everything in the boat is wet.

But, we are making some slow progress. We’ve been running the engine sparingly and sailing when we can. We’ve had to tack quite a bit to get us to our destination, rather than sail a straight line, which is adding some miles. Still slogging through the big swells which is also keeping the pace down. I’d say we’re averaging around 4 or 4.5 kts. That’s not going to win any races but we’ll get there eventually.

We’re a bit tired of being wet though, so I’m really hoping the rain lets up by tomorrow. We’re trying to have a sense of humor about it and have commented that we are not going to soon forget this trip!

Despite the rain, the wind has generally been in the 15-20 kts range. We had a few hours yesterday with hardly any wind, and then had some squalls bring us some brief 30+ kts to add to the excitement and keep us on our toes.

Yesterday afternoon I was on watch and motor-sailing in about 5 kts of wind with some light rain. We use the electric autopilot when we motor, but it tends to over correct when we hit big swells making it very noisy and annoying. So, I was hand steering the boat when suddenly the wind went from 5 to over 30 kts. And, the rain started coming down in buckets pelting me in the face. I even put my sunglasses on at one point to try and keep the rain out of my eyes. There wasn’t much we could do sailwise. We only had the double reefed main up and were basically dead into the wind. Mike was sleeping, so I just plowed through it for a few hours.

Of course the wind and rain backed off right before Mike got up. He popped up in the companionway to ask me how it was going. I must have looked like a drowned rat because he offered to heat up dinner for me. I peeled my soggy clothes off and shivering finally realized how cold I was. Despite the fact that my foul weather pants and jacket are supposed to be waterproof, I was soaked through to my underwear. Mike had heated up a bowl of hot chili for me which tasted awesome and warmed me up immensely.

As I was standing at the sink washing my chili bowl, I realized how tired my legs were. I felt like I had been doing squats for the last 4 hours, which I basically had while standing at the helm trying to stand upright and steer us through that mess. I crashed for the next 4 hours which was the first solid block of sleep I’d had in 3 days.

There have been some funny moments the last couple of days. One night, just as I was about to crawl into bed leaving Mike on watch in the rain, I heard him yelp. I jumped up to see what happened and found him holding a flying fish which had flown up onto the boat and wacked Mike in the arm. Stowaway.

We’re keeping an eye on the weather, but we are more than half way there. We will just have to deal with whatever Mother Nature decides to throw our way. I might sleep for a week when we get there though…

Will keep you posted.

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