April 2006 The Puddle Jump
April 8th we finally left Puerto Vallarta.  Next stop the Marquesas Islands.  We were treated to quite a send off with a dolphin show that "Sea World" could not have produced.  Factor in that immediatly after the show, the fishing reel started to whine and Phoebe called it, fish on!  We had snaged a 65 pound marlin.  Phoebe had been requesting one our entire time in Mexico and here it is. 
Normally we would not keep a marlin but we had a minor mishap with our freezer. We defrosted the freezer prior to reloading it with weeks of prepared and frozen food.  The problem was that we forgot to turn the thermostat back up.  Thus Emma and her Mom's week of provisioning, preparation and pre-hard freezing went to waste.  Thus the marlin was pure luck and we enjoyed every bite.
A couple days later near the Socoro Islands, we were visited by the Mexican Navy.  The Captain requested to send a boarding party over to examine our "papers"  upon my respose that our papers are ready for his inspection, he kindly declined and wished us a pleasent voyage.  On our crossing we only saw two other ships.  One was a Chinese tanker coming from New Orleans via the Panama Canal on to Korea.  The other was a Chinese container ship coming from Austraila bound for Mexico. There were also a couple of Japanese long liner ships out for tuna, but the fear factor of a war ship or huge tanker/container ship vs. a fishing vessel is astronomical.
After the dolphin show and the Mexican Navy the Pacific Ocean did a strange thing.  It turned into a placid lake.  We were becalmed for nearly 6 days.  The picture on the left is a boobie resting atop a sea turtle.  Below is a picture of Peterdog.  You could see fathoms down the water was so stll and clear.  We were enjoying our blue water sailing but we were kinda looking forward to seeing the Marquesas before June.  The next day the wind began to build and it did not shut down until we dropped anchor in Hiva Oa.
We averaged about 120 nautical miles per 24 hour period.  Emma, Peter and I broke up our watch schedual into 4 hour periods.  After home school & boat projects we usually had our daily backgammon tourneyment.  It was unbelievable that Peter won nearly every game.  It go so rediculous that in order for Peter to win he would have to roll a double 6 or he would lose.  He rolled a double 6.  I told him he must have sold his soul, because it was unreal.  The last time I had such a losing streak was with Emma's Mom in Nepal.  There we played gin rummy and I lost every game.
Underway, we were always harnessed in and clipped to the jack line.  Drake had the same unform the whole trip, boxer shorts, and Phoebe wore her jammies everyday.  It was nice not having to worry about what to wear.  The kids did amazing, they never complained and were great.  If they were bored, they would watch a DVD or play their gameboys.  They slept in the back bedroom with Emma and I slept on the couch or V-berth.  No on ever became sea sick.  Emma was very creative with preparing canned meals, and we never had a bad one.  
Thursday, April 27, 2006, we all became shell backs.  The children drew pictures and made crowns for King Neptune and the adults opened a bottle of Dom Perignon for the celebration.  Of course we offered King Neptune some libations, in hopes for a safe passage.  Below is a picture of us crossing the equator and to the right Mr. G documenting this ocassion. 
After crossing the equator we wrote a message with our boat card and put it in the bottle and Phoebe threw it overboard.  It will be interesting if it is every found and we get a reply. 

Before and after the equator we sailed into the surreal ITCZ (Intertropic convergence zone).   This place is unreal.  We did not have a moon at night and it was very dark, you could not see the squalls coming, other than knowing there were no stars in the sky.  Unlike on land, you could not smell the rain.  All of a sudden you would be hit by 30+ knots of wind from the wrong direction and the seas turned into a washing machine.  Waves would be coming from all directions.  During the day we would have our genoa, stasyl and mizzen up, and at night we would have a reefed main, stasyl and mizzen.  For the ITCZ we might just have a reefed main.
To the right is a picture of an approaching squall.   We quickly learned that there you can not out run them.  Our first experience was in the middle of the night and scared the !#$%^& out of us.  After that we enjoyed the opportunity to wash the boat and ourselves.
Land Ho!
Phoebe made the call and we were all happy to hear those words.  The Island of Hiva Oa directly ahead.  After 27 days at sea (three without beer) it was a welcomed site.  With land in site Peterdog finally lost his winning streak of backgammon.