Set Sail and Go!

After putting the repaired mainsail back on, retrieving the outboard from the shop and buying the final fresh food and other provisions for the trip, we were finally ready for the new group of guest crew to join us on Sunday. 
And what a motley crew they are…Sailing with us to Palmyra Atoll and back we have Tim, Jay, Dickie, Jeff, Rich, Martin and Kim. 
As usual, the first couple days are a lot of briefs on domestic stuff and most importantly, safety. This time, I had the honor of giving half the below chat, and lifejackets. On Monday after the safety deck walk around from Maggie, we had a visitor from the US Fish and Wildlife Service who look after Palmyra. Stefan handed out an up-to-date map of the Atoll, and told us what we can and can’t do within the reserve. Apart from the WWII American war base built there, it is an untouched gem in the Pacific, and boats wanting to visit need special permission to enter. This is a very special trip as Sea Dragon will be the first boat to visit since 2019. 


After clearing customs early Tuesday morning, we slipped the lines and set off south…
We’ve been steering 180 on the compass since day dot. South is the goal, and south we re going. 

Jay here! Mo kindly asked for my thoughts on the voyage so far, so to steal a word from her – Awesome!


Tuesday morning we left Oahu and headed south for Palmyra Atoll! The sound of the engine shutting off, and the boat underway with fun sails is an amazing moment.
We quickly settled into our watch routines. There are many mundane moments; cleaning the decks, doing the dishes etc, then there are amazing times – helming the boat in 2m-3m waves, trimming the sails, watching the flying fish and boobies (the bird…not body part!) landing on the pull pit.
Then there are the stars. I’ll never forget the first time I came on deck to clear night sky. It really can’t be described. The Milky Way stretched across the sky from north to south, and the stars were uncountable. It is literally breathtaking.


One of my concerns coming on this trip was dealing with 9 complete strangers. What if someone rubbed me up the wrong way? Being tethered to the boat means you can’t just shove them overboard…Turns out I was worried about nothing. Anna, Maggie, and Mo are not only true professionals, they are good people.
I’ve enjoyed getting to know my fellow crew. Dickie, Jeff and Rich have spent a fair amount of time with their heads in buckets, but they all seem to be turning the corner. Its so good to see them smiling!
Everyone is super chill. We are sharing a remarkable voyage together and I cannot wait to see what the coming days bring!

Wednesday

We’ve been steering 180 degrees on the compass since day dot. South is the goal, and south we’re going. 
First couple days were rough – we had a couple of seasick casualties but they’ve all gotten over it now and are enjoying the glorious sunshine and flying fish! Winds are consistently from the East, averaging about 25 knots which is perfect for a beam reach! We’ve already hit 15.5 knots, but as we get further south the winds are dying slowly. 
No dolphins or whales have graced us with their presents, but the Boobies and Flying Fish have certainly made up for it! Every day, at least 5 boobies land on the bow and hitch a ride for most of the day. The setting and furling of the yankee doesn’t seem to phase them, but the hundred of flying fish scooting along the surface of the 2m waves does! All of a sudden, the boobies will take off at once and circle Sea Dragon and dive into the blue ocean to catch their dinner. It’s a sight to see. 

Thursday 

You’re all probably bored about hearing how spectacular the stars are…but none of us onboard can get over the show that is put on every night. Rich, one of the guest crew, has informed us that the Perseid meteor shower started at the end of July, and peaks August 13th… and already all night watches have seen more than their fair share of shooting stars passing over head. 
We caught our first fish today! Maggie put the rod out this morning, and within about 3 hours a beautiful Bonito took hold of our brand new lure, the “TORMENTOR.” Dinner was already planned, so we’re going to save it for fishcakes tomorrow. 
Jeff is now the onboard story teller – he has many a story of his time in the navy, and has a way of telling them that engages all onboard (even those sleeping). Ghost stories have been told by myself, and have spooked out the watches at 2am…with many more ghosts to haunt us on the way to Palmyra Atoll where a famous murder took place…

Friday

Another beautiful sunny day on board Sea Dragon. With everyone over their seasickness, moral is high and fishcakes for lunch is a perfect way to enjoy bonito. The seas are still big, and the wind still 20 knots from the East, but that didn’t stop Tim and Martin getting out the sextant and learning about taking a sight. Skipper Anna coached them through how to use it, and will be doing the maths after a good nap (to mentally prepare for the amount of maths needing done).
2 more bites on the line today! The first another Bonito, but too small for us so we gave it back to the ocean. The second, we think a Mahi Mahi bit on, but alas, we weren’t quite quick enough before it got free and joined its mate for life again. 
Thank you to Martin and Jay for dinner it was lovely, and here’s hoping we get a full on sunset tonight!!