Leaving Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, Mexico We started accross the Mighty Pacific Ocean

**The First Ten Days**

 

 

Under Sail

PACIFIC CROSSING LOG
Sailing Vessel Talerra1
Captains David & Melanie Boots
Written by Melanie Boots

Day 1
Lat/Long (0300 Z) 17 degrees 34 minutes N - 102 degrees 27 minutes W
March 24, 2007, Saturday. About three weeks ago we, along with our friends Greg and Debbie aboard Volare, set this as our departure date after five fabulous months in Mexico. Not surprisingly we kept it, as it seems once we put a date to something, it happens! We departed Ixtapa Zihuatanejo at 11:00 a.m. local time after taking on fuel. With our additional fuel jugs on deck, it looks as if we could motor to the Marquesas Islands, but David assures me we could not. I still think we could get pretty close. We did motorsail the entire day amid light winds and calm seas. Due to being so busy the days prior to leaving, I did not prepare any meals ahead, so I moved right in to cooking mode. This was easy today because seas were so calm, but I know it won't always be. Sea life seen included several "bat" rays soaring in and out of the water, many large turtles slowly paddling by, and a group of playful dolphins early in the day. These guys are always so entertaining and we hear bring good luck when seen at the beginning of a voyage! David put out the fishing pole part of the day, but there were no takers, which is probably a good thing since the freezer is pretty packed. Speaking of food, as we sat down to dinner at the cockpit table, a slight wind blowing enough to cool the warm evening, stars brightly twinkling and the quarter moon reflecting off the gentle seas, David and I reminisced about how long we've waited for this. Heading across the ocean toward the South Pacific Islands, our almost 30 year long dream is coming true!


DAY 2 
Lat/Long (0300 Z) 16 degrees 33 minutes N - 104 degrees 17 minutes W
Sea Conditions - Swell 6', Waves 2-3', Wind NW at 18 knots
March 25, 2007, Sunday. Reality of life at sea hit Talerra and her inhabitants today. It wasn't a bad day by any means, but it wasn't perfect every moment. The day began the same as the previous day with sails up, motor helping maintain 5.0 to 6.0 knots, and the seas calm. For a short while the wind went away, but soon came back much stronger and brought lumpy seas with it. Now the challenge of trying to cook, brush teeth and shower, put slimy, thin transparent pieces of plastic into and out of my eyes so I could see, and just trying to walk from one end of the boat to the other, with Talerra lurching and swaying back and forth within a 30 degree range, began. Knew it would be this way at times, but didn't include it in part of that 30 year dream! Fortunately David and I have cast iron stomachs, so we're just fine there! Of course when the wind came back the engine went off, bringing a huge smile to David's face! By nightfall our speed picked up to the 7.0 to 8.0 knot range, but it was getting a bit uncomfortable trying to manage all the movement, so we dropped the main and finished the night with just the staysail and #2 jib (that's the big jib) and still moved at six to seven knots. We made excellent "mileage" today! Other "puddle jump" boats we are in contact with, in addition to Volare, are "Bold Spirit" with Jeff and Kathi and "Marcy" with Peter and Ginger. All are doing well!

DAY 3
Lat/Long (0300 Z) - 15 degrees 19 minutes N - 106 degrees 21 minutes W
Sea Conditions - Swell 7', Waves 2', Wind NW at 18 knots

March 26, 2007, Monday. The wind and sea were the same at the beginning of the day as the previous night, but by late morning had calmed down and the mainsail went back up. We still stayed in the 5.5 to 6.5 knot range most of the day, but slowed to 5.0 to 6.0 knots later. This slowing of the wind smoothed the seas and gave us a much more comfortable ride. The distance between our little group of four boats increased some, so contact on VHF radio faded. We set up and additional contact time for the morning on the SSB radio. An afternoon chat net was already in place. These contacts are fun and informative as well. Marcy, who left two days before the rest of us, let us know they had passed through a shipping lane over a period of 24 hours. They had in fact had a very close and scary encounter with a freighter. That information put us all on high alert. Ships at sea are a dreaded event and must be watched very carefully. We spotted our first in the late evening, so we knew we were in the lane! David and I are getting our sleep/watch schedule firmed up a bit now. We are not militant about it, but it is good to know when your time to sleep will be. Since I do most of the galley duties, David stands watch more hours during the day, but does have time for a three-hour nap in the afternoon. I stand watch at night from about 9:30 PM to 1:00 AM and then again from a bit after 4:00 AM to 7:30 AM. I then go to sleep until about 10:30 AM. So far this schedule seems as if it will work for us. In addition to dealing with the shipping lane issue, David also dealt with Booby birds. These guys have no fear of people and really, really want to be able to hang out with us. It would probably be ok if they didn't also want to use Talerra as their toilet. But since they do, David spent quite a bit of time shooing them away. We didn't fish today, which seems crazy, but we are still traveling with what seems like a lifetime of food in the freezer and refrigerator. In fact, I'm fairly certain we have everything we will ever need for the rest of our lives packed right here on this little 38 foot boat!


DAY 4
Lat/Long (0300 Z) - 14 degrees 38 minutes N - 108 degrees 18 minutes W Sea Conditions - Swell 4', Waves 2', Wind N at 12 knots
Distance Traveled Since Leaving Zihuatanejo - 350 miles
March 27, 2007, Tuesday. Today began with a glorious sunrise, colors of peach and salmon, blended with silvery whispy clouds against a baby blue background. What a sight! Red? Nuh-uh, no way! I remember that saying about red sky at morn, sailor be warned. There will not be any red in any of the sunrises on this cruise! Maybe crimson or scarlet or rose, but definitely no red! Seeing the arrival of dawn and the sun rise is the reason I wanted this watch. And today I was not alone; a group of about 30 dolphins joined me. It's interesting that they love swimming and playing around the boat so much. It makes me think of Chip, a very large bottlenose dolphin who liked to hang out at the Tenacatita anchorage with his girlfriend. He loved to scratch his body on the anchor chains of boats. He put on a great show for us when our friends Greg and Francie were visiting there. He would actually move Talerra's very heavy chain with the force of his body against it. Even David, after all of his ocean travels, had never seen anything like it! I continued today to work out details regarding getting our cruising information to you. This was all done via ham radio. David and I are still in awe of how it all works, the many benefits it provides for cruisers, and the fantastic people behind it all. I could go on and on about the helpful, friendly, caring and concerned ham operators I've met, beginning with the one who is making this log possible. Richard (W7YTZ) and Charlotte (KD7VJQ) are the most amazing couple you could meet. Richard was also one of our ham instructors. The other is Patrick (W7YCN), along with his wife Tone, who agreed to having another tower placed in their yard! Patrick taught us Morse code (back when it was required) and Richard took the technical side. Both were excellent instructors and have done so much for us using ham radio, from phone patches and phone calls, to gathering information about the many benefits ham operation has to offer the modern day cruiser. Ham radio and the people behind it are awesome! Back to our day aboard Talerra, we did have a much closer encounter with a very large freighter. Despite evasive action on our part, it still came within a few miles of us. David was able to reach the ship and talk to someone aboard. The ship changed course and we continued on our way! Oh, and the red sky thing, our day was fabulous, ending with the winds beginning to shift easterly. Trades here we come!

Day 5
Lat/Long (0300 Z) - 13 degrees 58 minutes N - 110 degrees 20 minutes W
Sea Conditions - Swell 3', Waves 1', Wind NE at 5 knots
Distance Traveled Since Leaving Zihuatanejo - 567 miles
March 28, 2007, Wednesday. What a delightful day! Spectacular sunrise, warm and sunny with occasional clouds to provide a break, winds tending to come from the east (seems we haven't quite reached the trades), no motor running, no ships, and a lovely sunset (David tells me since it's during one of my sleep times). Sounds a bit boring, but I can assure you, that is something cruising never is. Take Peter and Ginger on Marcy. They left two days before us and have a faster boat, so they are now 300 miles ahead. They experienced 30-35 knot winds all day today and had a wave break over their center cockpit, which sent water down their open companionway. There was nothing dull about their day! Incidentally, those winds are predicted to dissipate by the time Talerra gets there. Yesterday's log described the sunset without using red; today let me try to describe the water color without using blue. Azure is more the color of the sky, navy is too dark, and aqua has a bit of green; there is no greenish tint to this water. Maybe a translucent sapphire works best. Whichever way I try to describe it, it still is the most breathtaking blue I have ever seen. Actually sapphire is perfect since at night it is filled with sparkling diamonds. If the phosphorescence you find in the waters of the Pacific Northwest is the size of grains of sand, this phosphorescence is golf ball size. It is like watching hundreds of flash bulbs going off in a darkened theater! To those of you who fish, I'm sorry to say we did not put the pole in the water today. We did have a few flying fish try to join us on deck, and we hear they can be good to eat, but we're not yet ready for that, so David threw them back. By nightfall the wind slowed to just 5 knots, and we had to turn on the engine, so I guess it wasn't a perfect day after all.

 

Day 6
Lat/Long (0300 Z) - 13 degrees 13 minutes N - 112 degrees 18 minutes W
Sea Conditions - Swell 5', Waves 2', Wind NE at 11 knots
Distance Traveled Since Leaving Zihuatanejo - 693 miles
March 29, 2007, Thursday. One week ago tomorrow a very important event occurred. I did all of our laundry! And I haven't done any since, so that was today's big task. Now don't worry, I'm not going to try to use a bunch of flowery words or colors to describe it. It was for me, as it is for you, a chore. Only I was able to do it all in the galley sink; you probably have to use a washing machine or something and then a dryer! I was able to hang ours all over the boat, inside and in the cockpit! Lucky, huh? As usual Talerra's cabin was quite warm, so all of those wet clothes really increased the humidity and created a lovely spa for my skin. No need for moisturizer here! Oh, I forgot to add that confused seas made this our most rocky-rolly day so far. Ever try doing hand laundry on a roller coaster? Thank goodness for a deep galley sink! Remember David's little battle with the Booby? He lost; David did that is. The Booby came back today and landed on the dodger. After numerous attempts to get to get it to fly away, David finally just picked it up and sent it flying, only to have it return to its current resting place. That cute little birdie is now our guest and is sitting just outside our head port as comfy as can be. The bird is fine; it's David who has me concerned. A while later a flying fish landed on deck and David was going to give it to the bird! Fortunately the fish escaped through a scupper before David could get to it. I'm afraid those two are bonding! Next thing you know Grampa will be having Tristan and Carson name it! One more funny thing just happened as I'm writing, but this log is too long now, so it will have to wait for another day.


Day 7
Lat/Long (0300 Z) - 12 degrees 32 minutes N - 114 degrees 07 minutes W
Sea Conditions - Swell 6', Waves 2', Wind NE at 12 knots

Distance Traveled Since Leaving Zihuatanejo - 812 miles


March 30, 2007, Friday. Another very rocky-rolly day aboard Talerra. There has been a large swell, about 8 feet, coming from the north and northeast causing confused seas, thus giving us a ride like a sleigh on a mogul run. Not scary, just makes doing anything more work. I've finally come to the realization that only one big job a day can be completed on a long passage such as this. There just isn't enough time or energy for more. However, today we did two, but maybe the first doesn't count because it was so easy. In preparation for this long passage, we added four additional fuel containers, 15 gallons each, on deck. Today we transferred the contents of three of them to our fuel tank using a siphon and this really cool siphon pump I brought back from my most recent Washington trip. David didn't have to move any of the very heavy containers, and not a drop was spilled! Good job Davey! It also had the added benefit of shifting all of that weight that was up high down inside the keel. The other job done today should really count as two! I made banana bread. No big deal you say, on Talerra I assure you it was. Remember, I can't just go to a cupboard and retrieve an ingredient. No, I have to excavate! Yes, I have an inventory of most provisions on board. That is why I know we have enough food and everything else to last forever. But just because I know something is in the port side, center locker doesn't mean I know if it is under the chocolate chips or behind the brownie mix (Oops, just gave away a trade secret!), which is under the extra bags of powdered milk, which used to be beside the olive oil but was moved when I needed the chili powder for the tacos, or was it the mixed nuts for the trail mix? Doesn't matter, you get the picture. And is anything ever on top? Never! Always the bottom. It's like a sifter. Whatever I will need next, somehow sifts to the bottom. So what I have to do is remove most of the contents of a locker, retrieve my item, and then put everything back. Then this incredibly strange phenomenon occurs! All of the items removed have grown in size and now won't fit back into the cabinet. And I'm talking every time, no matter how many things I've removed; the items just grow larger because they never, ever fit back in the way they came out. The refrigerator and freezer are the same only deeper! Nevertheless, I was eventually able to find everything, make and bake the bread (more heat for the cabin) and according to David, tastes yummy. Of course he would say that; he saw how hard I worked! Oh, and the birdie was evicted today. David realized how much of a mess he was making and sent him on his way. I wonder if he'll ever be back?


Day 8
Lat/Long (0300 Z) - 11 degrees 55 minutes N - 115 degrees 47 minutes W
Sea Conditions - Swell 6', Waves 2', Wind NE at 12 knots
Distance Traveled Since Leaving Zihuatanejo - 922 miles

March 31, 2007, Saturday. We sent email today to our grandsons reminding them about April Fools' Day tomorrow, and to watch out for being tricked. As I write this, it is actually April 1; remember I usually write these late at night, or in this case, the next day. Back to Saturday ….. After finishing radio contact with my ham buddies, Richard and Charlotte, David reengaged and turned the autopilot back on (we have to have it off when broadcasting), then the craziest thing happened; it wouldn't work! April Fool! I wish! It really wouldn't work! David tried everything to fix it. I was at the helm, hand steering, all day while he checked fuses and wiring and connections, put in a new motor, a new remote control, and a new anything else we had for it. We brought spares for everything (my thought is that if you bring a spare, the original won't break), except the control box. The company assured David no one had experienced any problems with it, and it was very expensive. Well, you guessed it, at this point, that appears to be the faulty part of the system. Another problem involved worrying. I say, "Don't tell me worrying doesn't do any good; the things I worry about never happen!" This seems to be the case, most of the time. Neither one of us ever worried about the autopilot not working! We worried about everything else, but it! We do already have a time set up for a phone patch Monday morning to talk to the company (Thanks to Richard and Patrick!) and we know we can have a new one shipped to the Marquesas! If you're wondering how this affects life on the boat, one of us has to steer at all times and while steering you can't really do much else except listen to music or our French CD's (which tend to put me to sleep), so it will take away time from some of the other fun activities, including writing email! And it is hard work! It's not like driving a car; there is pressure on the rudder, which causes pressure on the wheel (I'll definitely have much stronger arms and shoulders by the end of the next 2000 miles!). And, other couples before us, including the very famous Eric and Susan Hiscock, have traversed oceans without any autopilot or windvane, have been just fine, and have had a wonderful time doing it. So will we!


Day 9
Lat/Long (0300 Z) - 11 degrees 12 minutes N - 117 degrees 24 minutes W
Sea Conditions - Swell 3', Waves 1', Wind NE at 8 knots
Distance Traveled Since Leaving Zihuatanejo - 1031 miles

April 1, 2007, Sunday. Another gorgeous day on the Pacific but barely any wind. Sometimes we moved as slow as 2.7 knots! None of our neighbor boats had much either. Volare and Marcy are way out ahead and are getting some wind, but Bold Spirit and us are wallowing in a very slight breeze. We were asked in an email if we can see other, and no, we cannot. We are all over 100 miles apart, but we do keep our two radio contact times. David and I are still trying to adjust to our new life without self-steering and are trying to make sleep a high priority to maintain the energy it takes. That autopilot thing really was not an April Fools' joke! David took apart the control unit and it all looked good, no moisture, no corrosion, no loose wires; which actually was a disappointment. We were hoping to find something he could fix. For those of you wondering, power is going to it, just not coming out. Since David did spend a lot of time on that today, we didn't really get into a new watch schedule, but we will. And we really do still have a good attitude! We are disappointed and email may suffer (I will still write a log and to our kids and to friends when I can), but the water is still that exquisite blue, the sunrises and sunsets, and now the full moon, are just as breathtaking, and everything else is working perfectly!


Day 10
Lat/Long (0300 Z) - 10 degrees 21 minutes N - 119 degrees 04 minutes W
Sea Conditions - Swell 5', Waves 2', Wind NE at 12 knots
Distance Traveled Since Leaving Zihuatanejo - 1147 miles

April 2, 2007, Monday. After a second night hand steering Talerra, and not being accustomed to the new sleep routine, we started the day fatigued but still hopeful David could find the source of the problem and by some miracle could fix our autopilot. At daylight, he immediately started trying all of the suggestions made in the owner's manual, and I took the helm. To add insult to injury, there wasn't much wind and the seas were extremely confused. It seemed as if there was some kind of cross current action causing the wind waves to form like tall peaks of meringue on a pie, all on top of a swell coming from the north and northeast. This caused Talerra to roll 30 degrees in one direction and then 30 degrees back the other direction and not always in one smooth motion, but instead jerking and then rolling or rolling then lurching. This made steering more strenuous, my poor arms, and David's work far more difficult and time consuming. After speaking with the manufacturer in the morning via a ham radio phone patch, with the help of Richard, who as good fortune has it is an electrical engineer and was able to interpret and explain information going back and forth between David and the manufacturer, David had a whole new set of diagnostics to try. At the end of the afternoon, Richard and Patrick, who provided relays and much appreciated cheerleading, were again on the radio. One more contact with the manufacturer, more interpreting and explaining from Richard, and now even more things to try, but it would have to be tomorrow. We both were just too exhausted. We were still somewhat hopeful, but must admit I was also feeling like we should just put all the parts and tools away (you should see the mess) and get on with our new life aboard and new routine. Nah, we aren't quitters! And besides, before nightfall a group of dolphins joined us for some frolicking, the seas calmed a bit, and the wind picked up.