Pacific Crossing Day 5: Squall Central

Sitting at the helm last night was like being blindfolded and thrown into a washing machine. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly things can change on the water. Yesterday’s glassy, calm conditions felt like a figment of my imagination when looking out at the frothing waves that surround us now, squalls coming toward us from all sides. Ray dealt with the worst of it during his shift: wind, waves, rain, lightning- you name it. We were able to sail but didn’t cover much ground while tacking back and forth, trying to dodge what we could. 

Lightning is a sailor’s worst nightmare. Even a near strike can debilitate your boat’s systems, the systems we rely on daily for navigation, wind data, freshwater… Growing up in Seattle, Washington, we’d open the garage door and sit in folding chairs, eating popcorn and watching the lightning like a TV show, ooh-ing and ahh-ing. My perspective has shifted now that I live on a boat with a giant metal stick running through the middle! 

Our SOG was low as we fought the current and waves, determined to continue without an engine to conserve fuel. We’re still several days away from the Galapagos, where we hope to start seeing stronger, steadier winds…

We sailed through a downpour of rain for most of the afternoon. Our apparent wind speed readout would occasionally skyrocket, presumably because of the static in the air. We’d hear the low-pitched rumble of thunder in the distance and see a flash of lightning; then, it would return to an accurate number. We never actually had 74.6kn of apparent wind, don’t worry! 

Eventually, the rain stopped, and the clouds lightened up. I made a late lunch for Ray and me. I haven’t felt seasick in 2 years because I’ve gotten better at eating while underway: smaller meals and lots of snacks (mostly carbs!) help settle my stomach. Before, conditions like this would make me miserable. Now, I just need some Chex Mix.

We saw our first glimpse of the sun around 5:30pm; it was nice to have some warm light coming into the saloon after a full day of gray. 

Ray stitched up another portion of our helm enclosure that tore during last night’s storms. We replaced the front portions a couple of years ago with significantly higher-quality materials but didn’t want to spend the money to replace the back sections at the time… we’ve grown to regret that decision.

We had pasta bolognese for dinner and watched the sun sink below the horizon in a spectacular wash of color. What a way to end the day! 

As I was about to upload this post, we lost Starlink. It gave us an error message, “Unpredicted location. Please use your Starlink on land or purchase a Starlink maritime product”. The “maritime product” requires an entirely new dish and costs exponentially more per month. There was a moment where we thought we’d be doing the rest of this passage without WiFi (I know, I know, a first-world problem). Luckily, we have plenty of music and books downloaded; entertainment was not our concern, but our tracker and various other daily communications use WiFi. At this point, Starlink is part of our inventory of safety gear. It’s not necessary, but man, is it nice to have! Luckily, it turned out to be a lapse when we switched from the regional to the global plan. It’s back up and running, so you’ll still hear from me daily. 🙂  

10 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I am glad you guys are okay and your making headway. We had the same error message from Starlink and we turn on mobile priority when we need it. However, that may be different as far out as you are. Stay safe and may today be without squalls.😊

  2. “It never ceases to amaze me how quickly things can change on the water” 💯💯💯!

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