Trip Reports

Crossing The Line (10-Apr-2001-20-00):
8:00 PM local time Tuesday 10th. 05 59N 134 20W. Temp. 85, Humidity 84%, cloud cover 50%. Seas SE 2 meters. Wind SE 18k.

Warmest regards from the crew of Maverick. As we write, we are doing about seven knots under full sail in the SE trades, and Hiva Oa is about 364 miles away. We've actually gone to the chart tubes and pulled out a chart for the Marquesas and for Hiva Oa. Until now we used the inflatable globe for navigation.

Last night at about 2300 we saw lights from another boat, probably a sailboat. The captain saw the lights on his watch for about twenty minutes, and then they were gone. Since the night of our departure, the night of the big barfennany, this is the first time we have seen anything in the ocean besides a few bits of flotsam and the critters who live here. The only other visual evidence of the existence of human beings was a couple of contrails we saw during the time we were sitting in the Pacific High.

Since we last wrote, we had a little bit of fluky breeze and then the wind veered to the southeast and we had found the beginning of the southeast trades, north of the equator. The Doldrums had evidently parted before us, as we had never encountered the classic glassy seas and complete lack of wind. But that was not quite all there was to it. We crossed the equator in the middle of the captain's watch, 0027 on April 7. The captain awakened fleet archivist Terry Shrode who got out the camera to take a picture of the GPS. The captain is quite skeptical that this really proves anything to anyone, and in any case it's not really much of a picture. Because of his mature years, Mr. Shrode had difficulty manipulating his various eyeglasses and the camera, and as the camera has an infuriating wait between pushing the button and getting an exposure, he didn't actually time it well enough to get 00 00 000. The GPS, after all, reads out in thousandths of a minute or about six feet (which is a higher degree of accuracy than it can reliably sense, so even if you caught it at zero you're not that close) and Maverick was screaming through the night at about seven knots at the time, which is about 12 feet a second. And how accurate is that line, anyway?

As one crosses the equator for the first time, so goes nautical tradition, one ceases to be a pollywog and becomes a shellback. There is hazing. Alcohol, a bit of everything on board, must be drunk. Unpleasant substances are rubbed all over one's body and a dip in the ocean is made to cleanse oneself. On Maverick, a new tradition was begun, and we the crew commend its adoption, thusly: The captain said, "Good work with the camera." Mr. Shrode, shellback, repaired to his bunk. One detail of note: As Mr. Shrode was at the nav station and the captain was above watching the radar, Mr. Shrode crossed the line first by about two feet and is the senior shellback.

The next day or so the wind went light, and then picked up again from the SE. But on Sunday, we had some nasty, lumpy seas, reminiscent of the seas we had at the beginning of the NE trades. We had swells of about nine feet from the NE and also from the SE plus a lot of chop from the wind. It's hard to say exactly what makes seas really unbearable. Last night we had a rough time of it and the boat and rig took quite a beating but neither skipper nor crew felt any the worse for it. But on Sunday, by early afternoon, all either of us wanted to do was to take to the bunk, and hope for unconsciousness.

The 364 miles to Hiva Oa presents a challenge. Our understanding is that we can't check in with immigration on the weekend, and this particular weekend being Easter, it's three days. This means that if we don't get there by the end of office hours Friday, it is quite likely that after 3400 miles and 27 days at sea, we will be confined to the boat and unable to set foot on land until Tuesday morning. And to get there in time to anchor, pump up the dinghy, fire up the outboard, get ashore, and walk a half-mile to the gendarme's office before he closes, we'll have to arrive by about noon. Unless the wind stays fresh and constant, we don't stand a very good chance.

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