An uneventful night had allowed for a bit of sleep. But not long after shutting my eyes for a nap around 10am, I heard Raiarii call me. I sat up straight to see a double rainbow arching off our stern. I rubbed my eyes, “DOUBLE RAINBOW!?!?!! What does it meaaaaan!!?!…Thanks for waking me up! It’s beautiful!”
“Oui, mais regarde devant…(Yeah, but looks what’s ahead…)” He said.
I turned to face the bow. A sinister line of dark clouds stretched completely across the horizon.
“Oooohwww, so that’s what it means…”
I shortened sail and we soon found ourselves amidst frenzied, white-out rain and gusty winds. The wind shifted to the north-northeast, so we set the sails in heave-to position, figuring it would soon pass and we’d be back on our way…
Unlike normal hit-and-run squalls, it didn’t clear for more than an hour…
“Weird,” I thought.
When it finally cleared, it left behind a ripped up sea and persistent northeasterly wind. Ugh, we were off-course by 15 degrees…Odd, there wasn’t northeast wind in the forecast? I managed to download the most recent weather report and send Swell’s position to my father. The new report showed that the low below us had deepened and shifted more south than predicted, and the new forecast called for mounting ENE winds, strengthening out of the east in a couple days.
Hmmm…we were too far out to turn around, and there were no islands nearby to seek shelter…So we plowed on–preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.
The wind stubbornly stayed ENE longer than forecasted. I decided we should tack off to the southeast, shorten sail, and wait for the wind to turn back into the east. All the forecasts called for east winds in the next few hours, so we bobbled along making reverse progress, but at least firmly holding our easterly position. We waited, waited, waited…but the wind stayed ENE all night!? I didn’t sleep a wink…By morning we’d made a giant figure eight on the chartplotter.
Same as the day prior, we were 15 miles from the ‘Isles of Disappointment’…
“All too fitting…the Disappointing Islands!” I whined. We should have been arriving that day, but there we were barely over halfway and going backwards!
Around midday the wind was still too northerly. Tepoto and Napuka were just a stone’s throw off the bow. We spotted a white house and a tempting white sand beach, but neither island offered any sheltered anchorage—which may have been the origin of the archipelago’s name…?! Despite the taunting tranquility of the palms, we bucked on until deciding to tack back, even if we’d be off course.
Wet and tired of moving away from our destination, we came about, managing to move ahead not too far off course. Finally, the ‘miles-to-go’ started shrinking rather than growing! But by late afternoon, I had another worry–Raiarii was sicker than ever. I started to fear dehydration, as he hadn’t been able to keep a sip of water in his stomach since the day prior. He was prone in the cockpit, weak, and wet from the water that was spraying over the deck. He couldn’t go below to get dry for fear of being sicker. He hadn’t eaten much since our first day’s meal, and nothing I mentioned appealed to him. And I could relate, I wasn’t feeling all that hot myself…
Desperate not to kill my new mate on his first ocean passage, I dug through the medical bag…
“Skin Infection…No……… ‘Diarrhea…No’……….‘Cold/Flu’…No………..‘Stings/Itch’…No… ‘Sea Sickness’….There it is!” I pulled out the Ziploc and began shuffling through its contents…
I thought I’d tried them all. Nothing ever seemed to help me, but amongst the Ginger pills, Dramamine, Bonine and pressure point wrist bands was a little white envelope that read, “Transderm Scop: Contains 1 Patch”. It was one of those scolpolamine patches that you stick behind your ear. Katie had left one aboard Swell in 2008 and I figured he might as well give it a try? He stuck it behind his ear and returned to his wad in the corner.
Three hours later, the greenhorn Tahitian was behind the helm again, steering Swell amongst the rowdy seas!?! The patch worked a miracle!!
“What should we eat for dinner?” He grinned.