"Arctracer" Letters

Update 9 - At Sea 17 March 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I'm listening to Irish music and may take a shot of neon green sports drink (UGH) a little later. I'm saving my green shirt, though. I need something clean for land...

Today is our 15th day at sea since leaving Ascension Island. One of my biggest fears going into this trip was that I would fall in love with sailing and be tempted to adopt this lifestyle. No worries!

Everything is damp. Everything stinks (except the bread Mom just took out of the oven.)

Thank goodness for my Pelican case and Ziploc bags! Of course, the Pelican case would have been MORE helpful if it had been closed. I woke up early yesterday morning to the sound of a splash in the forepeak, where I keep my empty suitcases and the camera equipment I'm not using on a regular basis. When I heard the splash, I sprang out of bed to discover an inch of water on the floor. The Pelican case was on a shelf, luckily, but it was open a crack. Some water got in, but most of it hit Ziploc bags of cables and things that were on top of the more important stuff. I removed things from the case and dealt with them, but I won't be surprised if I eventually go to use something and find that it no longer works.

Speaking of things not working... A few days ago my PowerBook died. Completely. Jerry took it apart a couple times and checked various things, but no luck. The main thing I've been using it for is to get my photos/video backed up from memory cards to my external hard drives. I'm now using Jerry's computer for that, although that task came with its own set of issues. As far as I know, nothing from this trip/film has been lost except for a couple days worth of photos from my iPhone, which weren't backed up. There are plenty of other annoyances that go along with not having my laptop, but my footage is what's most important to me and it's safe. For now. (Everything in life is only for now, right?)

Anyone who knows my laptop will not be surprised that it's dead. It's old and I've been expecting this to happen for a long time. It would have been nice, though, if it had lasted a few more weeks. It died peacefully in its sleep. It was not dropped or doused with salt water.

Speaking of getting doused with salt water... We crossed the equator on the 14th. There are time honored traditions that go along with a sailor's first crossing. The first thing I had to do was search for the equator line. I thought Mom & Jerry were going to put a rope or line somewhere on the side of the boat for me to find, but they used modern technology and after much searching, I finally understood that I could find it electronically on the GPS. Next, I put a note with the date and location of the crossing into a bottle and tossed it overboard. I was then "cleansed" when Mom sprayed me down with sea water from a hose. After that, we called Neptune forth. Mom blew the conch shell and Jerry...um...I mean...NEPTUNE arose, covered in seaweed (made from an old green t-shirt and green string). I paid my dues by giving him coins from our last port and offered him champagne, which he accepted. We celebrated by eating "calamari rings" off our fingers (they were actually hula hoops - potato snacks from the UK) and Cadbury chocolates. When all of this was done, Neptune presented me with a certificate as proof that I was no longer a slimy pollywog, but had been initiated into trusty shellbackdom (it's a thing) and we all sat down to play cards. It was a good time!

We had planned on making refrigerator ice cream for the occasion, but the freezer stopped working properly a couple days before. Things were thawing and spoiling at a rapid pace. We ate a lot of chicken in a short period of time, but had to throw out some broccoli and peppers. Luckily, the issue was discovered before having to eat or dispose of 5 kg of mozzarella.

We caught another mahi-mahi. If there's one thing I'm not tired of on this trip, it's fresh fish! Yummy! I would be convinced that mahi-mahi were the only fish in the sea except that one night we brought the line in to discover an already dead, very long, skinny, ugly fish with giant eyes and big teeth. We haven't identified it yet, but I took a couple pictures before tossing him back. He didn't look very appetizing.

I'm really lonely and homesick. Rick sent me an email telling me who he has seen and spoken to and what all our friends have been up to. I was so happy while reading it, but a few minutes later, I was desperate to be back home with him and with all of you, whether physically or through Facebook or whatever.

I don't want to be on the boat anymore. If the voyage had ended a week ago I would have been all "no sweat, big deal." In a way, that would have been a bit disappointing. I'm glad I'm getting to this point. I will appreciate home all the more, as well as the life Mom and Jerry have had for nearly two decades. And I'm only getting a little taste of it. This is the easiest ocean crossing of them all...

We should be at Iles du Salut (Salvation Islands, one of which is Devil's Island) off the coast of French Guiana in approximately 3 days. Hoping for Internet, but will be happy just to set foot on land. I've been shoeless for over 2 weeks. Jerry told me about a sailing friend who never wears shoes anywhere ever. He has to take pills a couple times each year to get rid of worms. There's a fear I don't need. Thanks, Jerry!

Noon coordinates since my last update:
Tue 3/12 1 deg 55' S, 36 deg 32' W
Wed 3/13 0 deg 57' S, 38 deg 41' W
Thu 3/14 0 deg 05' N, 40 deg 34' W
Fri 3/15 0 deg 46' N, 42 deg 31' W
Sat 3/16 1 deg 48' N, 44 deg 44' W
Sun 3/17 2 deg 47' N, 46 deg 56' W

Till next time...

Sailor Hilary