Thursday, August 06, 2009

August 5, 2009 - Enroute to the Seychelles

After six days of the most disgusting passage of our voyaging careers, we arrived in the Seychelles this evening. How can a passage be disgusting? Oh, let me count the ways.

From the get go, we've had big seas. Unfortunately, we haven't had consistently strong breezes. The combination of big swell and light winds just makes us roll and gyroscope around. The motion is nauseating and makes sleeping nearly impossible.

The skies have been leaden and overcast the entire trip. The squalls, while not very intense, have brought with them massive wind shifts. So when it rains, one of us has to be in the cockpit. Hand steering in the rain is just not my idea of a good time. The salon is littered with damp cockpit cushions and damper foul weather gear.

Our first night out of Chagos, we were visited by a quartet of red footed boobies. They rested themselves from their fishing expeditions on our whisker pole. At first we were chuffed to be able provide our fine, feathered friends with a place to rest. We were entertained by their chatting and preening. But we were less pleased when they thanked us for our hospitality by crapping all over the deck. We were less pleased still when one of them regurgitated its last dinner into a slimy, inky, bloody mess of partially digested squid all over the side deck. The last straw was when one of them decided to abandon the pole for the top of the mast, and promptly broke off the Windex (wind indicator). You can bet that the replacement we install will have a sharp pointy bit to keep away uninvited guests.

On the second day of the passage, our shower drain pump packed it in. Although something that Sten could easily fix at anchor, it isn't in a place he can work on while underway. So, we've been pumping the shower pan out by hand. But there is always that last little bit that won't come up, and it stinks. Thanks to the squalls and big seas, we can't open the hatches to air the boat out. It is so damp that our towels won't dry, so they also stink. It is so hot down below that we sweat terribly in bed. So the sheets also stink. By the fourth day the sheets were so nasty that I had to change them. The only ones left in the linen cabinet were mildew and sweat stained; which stinks.

The only redeeming thing about the whole passage occurred on the fourth day when Sten spotted a huge sperm whale, breathing on the surface, just off our port beam.

On the fifth day our refrigeration started acting up. The winds also picked up. I didn't think it was possible for the motion on board to be worse, but 25 to 30 knots of wind blowing against the current created steep, confused seas. That night a breaking wave filled the floor of the cockpit. Luckily, we'd put the storm boards in the companionway moments before the wave boarded us.

On the sixth day, the watermaker alarms started going off. Apparently Mata'irea had had enough of this run too.

Then we hit the Seychelles Bank. In the blink of an eye the depth of the sea went from 13000 feet to 47 feet. The waves responded to the change by becoming steeper still. 6 hours later we rounded the top of an island protecting the harbor at Mahe and breathed a sigh of relief as we put the anchor down in the quarantine anchorage. For the first time in six days we weren't rolling. Bobbing up and down at anchor in windchop generated by 25 knots of breeze, the comparative lack of motion was initially disorienting, as were all the lights on shore after three months in the dark.

The disgusting conditions on this passage got me to thinking about upcoming passages. I started to try to calculate how many more days and nights we'll spend on passage before getting home next summer. After reaching two months, I was so depressed I had to stop. Luckily, we've got some really exciting landfalls ahead (Madagascar, South Africa, Ascension . . .) to counterbalance the drudgery of reaching them.

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