Here’s a good look at the twizzle rig. Normally, you set the twizzle with two poles that are lashed or fastened somewhat loosely together so they can flex and move a little. It can be a bit complicated. In this case, we have just the windward side (to the left) poled out. At this point our wind was pretty good, at least 15 knots, and also a bit on the port quarter, not exactly on the stern, what you could call a very broad reach. Thus the leeward sail, the one on the starboard (right) side would stay full just by the natural action of the wind on the sail and we needed only to hold out the windward sail with the pole. We were forcing the sail to “sail by the lee,” a bit of salty terminology that normally refers to having the mainsail held by the boom on the same side of the boat as the wind. Our setup shown here is effectively the same, just with a jib and a whisker pole instead of the main and boom.

Overall, it was a good and fairly swift passage, if pretty rolly and bouncy much of the way. We saw no foul weather but rather lighter winds than normal for substantial periods. The sea principally sent us fairly small (1.5- to 2.5-meter) swells from the southeast, but with a 3- or 4-second period, not the usual 10 seconds or so one typically sees in the open ocean, and some wind chop and some seas from the south. So even though we modified our course to make the ride as comfortable as possible, much of the time it was rollier than I expected it to be.

Some notes:

Tues 22 March   Departed Puerto Villamil, Isla Isabela, about 0930. Motor sailed more or less due S for a couple of days through less than 5 kts of wind.

Fri 25 March   Found the tradewinds yesterday early morning, at about 5 degrees S latitude. Dis­covered that squalls can sometimes hit you with a burst of wind and sometimes kill your wind completely, sometimes make it come from all different directions.

Sat 26 March   Made 175 miles yesterday, a very respectable number. Note that mileage figures are de­termined with point-to-point measurements and don’t take the inevitable weaving around or zig-zagging that a boat inevitably does. So actual mileages and average speeds are slightly higher than reported.

Sun 27 March   Changed course slightly and are no longer heading toward Pitcairn Island or the Gam­biers (only about 5 deg apart when you’re 2500 miles away) but rather toward Hiva Oa. The goal is to keep the ride as comfortable as possible. So far, the seas have been quite short period, 3 to 5 seconds, none of the big, gliding ocean swells, and a lot of wind chop. So the ride has been pretty bouncy at times.

Tues 29 March   Hooked something big enough to make the reel scream even with the drag fully set, and big enough to snap the hook. Not just bend it – break it off completely. Unfortunately that was on the blue-and-white fly that Jordan tied for me and that attracted a lot of at­tention from our finny friends.

Fri 1 April   Set the twizzle rig this morning. A “twizzle” rig (“twizzle” perhaps a mutant form of “twin headsail”?) is basically two jib-like headsails stitched together at the luff to form one large headsail that sticks out to either side of the boat. It flies from the roller furler on the headstay or from the solent stay, if the boat has one rigged. The twizzle is spe­cifically for sailing downwind.

Sat 2 April   Another slight course change: we’re now aiming at Nuku Hiva, a bit farther to the north. It’s also the principal entry point to the Marquesas for people sailing from the Americas.

Sun 3 April   About 0300 the halyard holding up the twizzle rig parted. Matt and Ryan fished the sails out of the water – no apparent damage; we’ve yet to inspect them in detail. Had to drop the main first, then rig the yankee to windward (the whisker pole was already more or less in place, from previous days’ sail setup). All in all took about an hour to get everything dealt with.

We had been in a great groove for perhaps 12 hours, going fast (6.5-8.5 knots), not too much motion to the boat. With flying the yankee instead of the twizzle we’ve lost only perhaps 1-1.5 knots of speed, so not that bad.

Tues 5 April   Made 175 miles yesterday, 7.2 kt average. This is very good, fast progress.

Wed 6 April   Made 189 miles yesterday, 7.9 kt average. Yee-hah! This is really cookin’ along, for a boat of this size. Averaging 7.9 means that we spent a lot of time sailing in the mid to high 8 kt range. Going too fast to fish. Probably 4 or 5 more days to port.

Fri 8 April   Made 173 miles yesterday and 177 miles on Thurs. Wind lighter today.

Sat 9 April   Hooked a marlin, est. 6 feet long, yesterday. It was jumping and leaping out of the wa­ter. Ryan had to cut the line – no way were we going to get a fish that big close to the boat, let alone on board. It could take line off the reel at will, even with the drag tightened down as far as it would go, just strip line off the spool and make the reel scream. And it could easily have torn the rod right out of Ryan’s hands as well. We lost perhaps 100 or 200 yards of line and, more importantly, the lure. It had been our most successful lure, a hoochee-like squid thing with some sort of rattling device built into it. Oh well.

Sun 10 April   Ran out of wind, which the grib files we downloaded and a weather report we got on the SSB radio suggested would happen. Motor-sailed or just motored under bare poles most of the day. When you’re motoring 7.5 knots downwind, 10-12 knots of breeze on your transom isn’t enough to even hold the sails up.

Mon 11 April   Arrived Taiohae about 0930, exactly 20 days after leaving Puerto Villamil. That’s pretty good time, all things considered. The passage was about 2970 miles, I think, so we av­eraged 148.5 miles a day, or about 6.1 knots overall, including time spent motoring in and out of harbors, dealing with sail changes and other on-deck issues, slowing the boat down to attempt reeling in a fish, stopping in near-flat calm to swim, etc.

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