Monday, Aug 11, 5:00PM PDT – Day 5

We have sailed into the heart of the Pacific High. Well, perhaps not *the* High, but it will do for now. The High is actually pretty diffuse at the moment, smeared out over a wide east-west swath. There is no practical way for us to sail around the moderate winds of the western edge, so instead we motor-sail due north through a 100-mile band of extremely light air. We have had the diesel running for seven hours now, starting just after sunrise.
Last night was a great one for stargazing. The sky was mostly clear, and after the moon set the stars shone brightly and with an abundance not seen in the always-lit skies of the city. All night we were treated to meteors, sometimes with two fiery trails overhead at once. The winds were mostly in the 10-knot range, but there were patches of much lighter breeze, and the general trend was towards diminishing windspeed.
At daybreak, Aaron and Paul E were on deck discussing philosophy, morality, humanity, and other such weighty issues when Aaron spotted a pod of perhaps a dozen dolphins swimming and leaping towards the rising sun. They didn’t seem too interested in our boat, but as they passed several would leap from the water in unison – quite a sight!
Shortly after sunrise the wind fell so low that the sails began slatting as the small swells rocked the boat. Time to fire up the engine.
We soon put two lines in the water, and within an hour we had our first fish, a medium Mahi-Mahi (Paul C. found a chewed-off leader when he reeled in his line last night, but we have no idea what type of creature took his bait). Paul C. and Aaron filleted our catch, saving the meat for lunch.
The seas became smoother and smoother, with the occasional wind ripples only accentuating the stillness and the mirror-smooth surface. Every so often, long four-foot swells from far off would sweep under VALIS. Out to the horizon, the calm sea was virtually covered with “By The Wind Sailors” (small jellyfish), and sometimes a school of flying fish would be disturbed by our passage, flying off in all directions.
We also continue to see garbage. Nothing like a floating island, but several times an hour we see a fishing float (plastic), a water bottle, a clump of net or rope, and other unidentifiable junk. We spotted an unusual dark floating object early in the day, so we made a brief detour to investigate. It turned out to be a floating tire. We didn’t get too close, for fear of snagging a net or line that might have been attached. Minutes later we passed another tire.
Just after local noon,the two Pauls prepared Mahi tacos for lunch. We baked the fish with a little garlic and lemon-pepper, heated the corn tortillas, chopped some lettuce and sweet Maui onions, and mixed up the secret ingredient: a sauce whose closely-guarded recipe was handed down from Rich Jones to Paul E. during the Pacific Cup race (mayonnaise, lemon juice, and sweet chili sauce).
We now have another line in the water, hoping to catch dinner, and we continue to motorsail north with the hatches open, letting the fresh air sweep through the cabin. Very nice, but we are eager for some wind. Perhaps tomorrow…
-Paul Elliott

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