Day 201, Year 1: Sailing Wing and Wing–Day 15
Date: Saturday, May 6, 2006
Weather: No Change-Beautiful Blue Skies Dotted with Puffy White Clouds
Air Temperature: 80 degrees F, minus a degree or two at night
Water Surface Temperature: 79.5 degrees F
Latitude: 08 degrees 01 minutes S
Longitude: 123 degrees 33 minutes W
Location: Passage from Galapagos to the Marquesas, Day 15
Miles to Go: 915(~134 miles last 24 hours)
Miles to Date: 2043

During the night we dipped under 1,000 miles to go. Wow! It’s beginning to feel like we are almost there and yet we have more than 900 miles to go. That was the distance from Panama to the Galapagos and I know it will pass quickly. Problem. We were supposed to learn basic French while on this passage. We are, after all, going to French Polynesia. But I don’t think nine days will be nearly enough time. I’m not sure nine years would be enough time for me to learn French. But we will dig in tomorrow and begin an intensive short course. But we also have to practice pronouncing all of the Polynesian names by learning a whole new vowel structure.

‘A’ says the short sound of ‘o’ in the English language-the sound you make when a doctor puts a tongue depressor in your mouth to look down your throat.
‘E’ says the long sound of ‘a’ in the English language.
‘I’ says the long sound of ‘e’ in the English language.
‘O’ says the short sound of ‘uh’, like the ‘u’ sound in umbrella.
‘U’ says the sound you hear in the word ‘too’.

But it is not that clear cut. Just as in the English language, the sounds change sometimes when at the end of a word or in certain combinations. So Fiji sounds like ‘Fee-jee’. Fatu Hiva is pronounced ‘Fah-two-hee-vuh’. Hiva Oa is pronounced ‘Hee-vuh-O-uh’. Just practicing the names of the five islands in the Marquesas is challenging, but then when you get to the Tuamotus (Too-uh-mow-twos), it is REALLY challenging. There are lots of vowels in every word and you say the sound of every vowel. Try the names of these places in the Tuamotus: Fakarava, Tikehau, and Kauehi with the Arikitamiro and Tearavero passes into the lagoon. Or how about Rangiroa with the villages of Tiputa and Avatoru? Remember-say every vowel separately. Mark lived in American Samoa for a couple of years in the 1960’s and he has a handle on how to pronounce these names, but it takes me awhile to practice.

We have been sailing wing and wing since the middle of last night. That means that the headsail is poled out to one side of the boat and the mainsail is out to the other. Usually both sails are out to the same side, but the wind has taken a turn and is coming directly from the east when we want to go directly to the west. So it is dead behind us. We have continued to make good time, but we have really been rockin’ and rollin’. We have been able to head a little north of west and tonight we will go back to a normal sail configuration and sail southwest again. The ride will be much smoother.

Not much else to report today. Mark talked to a doctor with the World Clinic again this morning about his knees. We are still not sure what it is but he is better and that is good. We’ll just have to keep a careful watch to figure this one out. The burn on my thigh is beginning to heal although I still have what looks like a very large birth mark just above my knee. Otherwise, things here are great.

Day 202, Year 1: End of Windbird’s Wind Bubble--Day 16
Day 200, Year 1: Thoughts About Email Communication--Day 14