And then we hit the doldrums, cross the equator (drink champagne, pay homage to Poseidon and Neptune, and maayybe jump in the water if the conditions are calm enough- I mean, how cool would it be to swim across the equator?!) then we pick up the southern hemisphere trades that sweep us into Hiva Oa with a graceful entrance. Easy! But I am getting ahead of myself... It took us 10 days to get this far and will probably take us another 10 to finally reach land. Sigh.
Remember how I told you that cruising is essentially "hours upon hours of sheer boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror"? Well, this anecdote should prove my point. Yesterday morning I woke up to the smell of fresh baked cinnamon rolls (out of the can, of course, but an essential to any offshore passage). This was a nice way to wake up to what should have been a long, uneventful, and rather boring day.
As Mom, Dad and I were sitting in the cockpit enjoying our pastries and a nice 18 knot breeze that kept us moving at a brisk 7-8 knots, Mom noticed a ship on the horizon. Whereas it is not uncommon for ships to be in the ocean, it is rather uncommon to see ships 1000 miles out from any land, considering that the Pacific ocean covers hundreds of millions of square miles, and we have a visibility of about 6 miles in all directions. Nevertheless, there was the ship, and it appeared to be coming our way. At first I ignored it, hoping it would just go away (I don't like seeing other boats out here) but Mom kept looking at it through the binoculars and plotting it on the radar. She said, "Corie, you gotta look at this thing. I can't tell what kind of boat it is... is it a fishing boat? refugee boat? abandoned?"
When I looked up from my book the boat was much closer than I would have expected. When I looked at it through the binoculars it made my stomach churn. This ship was the boat equivalent to the shadiest, nastiest "Chester the Molester" van you have ever seen. It could have been out of a horror movie, not in that there were decapitated heads stuck on spears or goblins gnashing their teeth on the decks, but it was just creepy. The boat was about 75 feet long, and looked to be some sort of fishing boat, except that there were no signs of fishing gear. In fact the boat was deserted. No signs of life anywhere, except that it kept speeding up and slowing down, and did not keep a straight course.
The boat was almost completely rusted, with green algae growing up the hull. The panels that went up to the second deck were almost all rust, so that it looked like the boat was collapsing in the middle. The only signs of identification I could make out were some symbols in Chinese that were painted on the bow. It had no lights (that I could see, although it was day) and I could only tell that it was moving because of the wave at the bow. And in fact it was coming straight at us.
Ok, so it didn't come straight at us. But it passed our stern about 1/2 mile away, which is very, very close out in this big ocean. I kept an eye on it as it slowly started for the horizon, happy to have that thing as far away as possible. Now, while this boat did not actually hurt or threaten us, it still scared the shit out of me. Mom and I decided that they were probably pirates and didn't want to board the boat because it was too rolly and we would have kicked their asses into the water. When I went on watch Mom said, "Make sure the pirates don't come back." Haha. Gulp.
Later, when I asked her if we have any sort of defenses in case of some sort of attack, she stuck out her jaw and stuck up her middle finger.
At 4/1/2011 9:37 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 07°57.88'N 125°22.02'W
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