Leg 2, Day 7 – June 3

Data at 8 AM…Engine hours: 4085.9

Fuel consumed yesterday: 100 gal., total leg fuel consumed: 551 gal.

Miles traveled yesterday: 172 nm, total leg miles traveled: 970 nm  

Weather: SW wind 5 – 10 kts., mostly clear, temp ~74 degrees

Seas: wind wave negligible, SW swell 3 – 5 ft.

Water temperature: 69.8 F

Half-way report

About 0100, we passed the half-way point for this leg.  I did not arise from my bunk to celebrate.  Shar was on watch and reported minimal fireworks.  The half-way point for the entire Palm Beach to Gibraltar crossing is/was another 50 miles and 7 hours further along.  Being light by that time, fireworks would be pointless, so Bob orchestrated a singularly unique celebration: the four of us convened in the cockpit to toast with cans of Moxie diet soda…and after declaring our individual level of disgust, ranging from “vile” to “not too bad”, we dumped it into the sea, along with an orange Moxie baseball cap.

But speaking of fireworks, Bernie wants us all to fire off some expired emergency flares so that we can see how ineffective they are.  That happens tonight.  Stay tuned.

Those of you noticing the absence of a fishing report, and particularly those who have observed how obsessed we are in that regard, will conclude, correctly, that we are bereft, both spiritually and physically.  Hope springs eternal, though, so the lines remain out and ready to deliver another perfect 39″ dorado.  I can’t say we’re desperate for food, in that we haven’t quite finished off the last one.  Still…

I am fortunate to be paired with three other crew members who are fish crazy, too.  That way, nobody gets accused of being (pun intended) overboard.  If we troll the entire ocean, minus hours of darkness, that’s a good thing.  Additionally, we’re all fortunate that this is the simplest fishing technique possible: just drag something behind at hull speed.  Prior to the trip, I was concerned that I wouldn’t know the nuances of this fishery.  Lesson learned: there are none!

We just saw our first pod of whales; not a large pod, not large whales.  There were at least three, spotted abeam, about 200 meters to starboard.  At that distance, we could see nothing more than small spouts, and one tail when the individual sounded.  No species ID was obtained.

At 1150, local time, Angela reported the landing of their first fish, another identical dorado.  Congratulations to them!  And a ‘harrah’ for evidence of something to catch.

The fleet fractures

Daily at 1200, Bernie calls us to attention for our routine briefing.  Today, an included topic was the emergency flare fest procedure, scheduled for 2145.  At, “Are there any questions?” one was voiced about setting off a smoke signal during daylight.  It turns out Bob has an expired one, which he offered to let rip.  So, according to proper procedure, we announced ‘This is only a drill’ to the world on VHF, and proceeded to pull the cord and toss the canister into the water.  Only, much to our surprise, someone heard our announcement.

That someone was aboard the catamaran sailboat, Meka, 10 miles to the south.  They hailed us on the VHF and stated that they were dangerously low on diesel fuel to complete their run to Horta.  After much Q&A, where the decisive answer was, “It is an emergency” it was decided that Moxie and Angela would break away to see to their aid.  Now, there are legitimate questions that might arise, about what constitutes a diesel emergency for a sailboat, etc., etc., but I’ll leave you to ponder them on your own.  We set off on the rescue, abandoning the fleet and taking its adult supervision along with.

During the hour or so to arrive on the scene, we discussed the possibility of an ambush.  This situation didn’t add properly. But again, I’ll leave the pondering to y’all.  Between the two fleet boats, on an obscure VHF channel, we devised a plan to assist but not expose ourselves to unwarranted risk.  Meka must launch their dinghy and bring jerry cans to Moxie, then stand off as they are filled.  Bob was filler in the engine room, Jason “the muscle” was armed (flare gun) watch, Shar was at the helm and I was official photographer and backup watchman.  Angela’s imposing presence was just that and cheerful cover for our presumed paranoia.

Meka’s captain turned out to be a professional delivery skipper, with 39 crossings under his toes.  Angela did most of the radio chatter while we executed the task, so I’m short on details.  We ended up giving them 20 gallons and a weather forecast.  When told of good winds coming, pushing them on a rhumb line to Horta, the captain seemed to back off his ’emergency’ declaration.

By the conclusion of this little side adventure, the fleet was nearly 15 miles down range of us.  We set an intercept course, cranked up some higher-than-normal RPMs and headed for the family.  ETA is 0-dark hundred, tomorrow.

BTW, the flare fest is delayed and I have no data from the orange flare drill, as far as the other boats were concerned.  From Moxie’s perspective, on a clear day with light winds, the orange smoke was easily visible, but did not rise much above the ocean’s surface.  Although I did not time it, the emission of smoke lasted 4 – 5 minutes, tops.

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