Day 6 9/12/09
Each of us take (2) two hour shifts captaining Alguita each day. Mine run from 0400-0600 and again from1600 to 1800 hours. I’m not a morning person but I look forward to my 4-6 am shift to watch the sunrise from the captain’s chair. Above it is a hatch that we poke our heads through to watch the weather and check the sails (if they’re up) as well as look for any on-coming traffic or debris. We haven’t seen another boat or heard (or seen) any air traffic in five days. We are completely alone out here on the 159th parallel. The only things showing up on the radar are some thunderheads. I pop out the hatch to make sure then feel the rain on my face. The chance of running into debris is much higher. On the last leg, Alguita had two mishaps with derelict nets that got stuck in the props. Because this debris, called Ghost Nets, float close to the surface, but don’t always break it, they are difficult to see even when standing looking over the bow. In the dark it’s even more of a challenge. None the less, standing on the captain’s chair and watching the sun come up to greet moon is a pretty rare sight - in my world anyway.
For the past couple of days we traveled over the Musicians Sea Mountains - without even changing altitude! One of them we passed over named, Brahms Mountain, is over two miles high and we still cleared it by a mile. So the sea floor was actually three miles below us. Others in this mountain range are called Schubert, Handel, and Mozart to name a few.
With Jeff still sleeping, the Captain decided to put up some sails. That meant I was going to have to step-up to the plate to help put up the Stay Sail and the Main. Not having any sailing experience I’ve been the weak link and am confident if we were a reality show I would have been voted off the boat the second day. But Lindsey, Bill, the captain and I put it up like pros. Shortly after, I was standing by the captain’s chair and the Captain bent down to pick up a red plastic handle to a drawer that was mysteriously on the floor. He handed it to me and made a comment that it was the Handle Award because I’m finally getting a handle on how to sail! No one knows where the handle came from but I had to admit it was fitting. I am starting to get it finally. And we are now traveling at about 6 knots on free fuel.
We had a lot of rain most of the day today with a sea state of four. Water rushed over the bow as Alguita made its way up one wave and down another. Waves slammed under the haul with a loud boom. Scuba Drew calls them water bombs, I call them speed bumps - coming from Wilmington, NC the speed bump capital of the world I know what they sound like on the bottom of a car.
Bad weather doesn’t stop a young salt like Jeff. He put a couple of fishing lines out and within a few minutes caught a 27 standard length Mahi Mahi. It was too small to eat (really?) so Gwen had to prepare it for sampling in her lab later. Off to see if we caught any more fish.