Our Mission: To boldly go until we are no more!

Monday, May 20, 2024

Day 5


We have so far now spotted two ships visually (five total using AIS or RADAR). The one this morning, the 299m ‘Saga Discovery’, saw us first from a range of 10nm and hailed us on VHF channel 16. The watch thought we were flashing a distress strobe light but what he was seeing was probably our mast and sails rocking back and forth on the horizon. We chatted briefly and confirmed our AIS transponder and radio were working properly. Due to the curvature of the earth, ships are hard to spot further than six miles away from the deck of a sailboat. They are said to be ‘hull down’ because in the sailing ship days only the mast and sails would appear.

After sailing to Papeete, Tahiti with Harry in 1984, Kurt remembers a ship pulling into the harbor with mast, rigging and sails hanging from a bow anchor. Obviously the result of a collision at sea with a sailboat, this incident has forever engrained in us the discipline of keeping watch 24/7. Our Watch Commander timer is an essential piece of equipment that keeps us looking around at least every 15 minutes. One minute before time is up, a quiet beep sounds continuously warning that if the reset button is not pushed, a horrendous siren will go off and wake the whole ship. This serves two purposes: the watch will be shamed for falling asleep or the off watch will be woken up to find the watch has fallen overboard (hopefully attached with harness and tether).

Yesterday we gybed and are now sailing wing and wing on port tack. The trade winds are still not quite here (still only about 10kn winds) but we are ready for them with this rig. We are trying to conserve fuel and make it to NZ without refueling. Tonga may offer an opportunity to top up but coming alongside a wharf is such a hassel.

Our noon position on May 19, 2024 was:

27d44.9m N, 132d52.8m W

24 hr noon to noon: 157 nm

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