Noon Position: 13 14.94S 126 51.02W
Course/Speed: SSE 6
Wind: E 15 but up and down 10 – 20
Sea: E 6, some rollers to 10…something brewing east.
Sky: Cumulus, some thunderheads
Cabin Temp: 86
Water Temp: 81
Miles last 24-hours: 153
Miles since departure: 3598
“Oh, pardon Senior, then I really must shave,” said Monte, making a shift to go below.
“No, not aboard. I mean, in the neighborhood. There are three AIS targets on the scope and they’re all bunched up together dead ahead.
Monte raised what I now refer to as the “eyebrow of doubt;” dark and bold, its peak pushes so high that it is said to get a dusting of snow on the coldest winters.
I had another look at the scope. “No, five targets. I wonder who’d gather out here?
“It is Pirates, Senior,” said Monte, as if announcing the results of a unanimous vote. “They have set a trap.”
“Pirates? Who would send a fleet of ships to nowheresville to set a trap. There’s nobody here but us.”
“Exactly. We are here; therefore it is a trap. Madre! What will I do with all my gold?”
“I think you mean perfectly circular, Senior.”
“…no, that’s not a compliment! I mean your reasoning makes no sense.”
Pirates or not, it was a curious thing. I had just been remarking to myself that we’d not seen a ship on the scope since getting below Panama, and now … well, now there were ten targets, mysterious targets with numbers but no names, no hailing port, no vessel description, and all moving about this way and that at a knot or less.
I’ve gone through fleets of fishing boats at night off the Washington coast. But here? Peru was 3,000 to the west; Tahiti, 1,500 east.
Soon the AIS alarms sounded. The first target should be just two miles distant, said the scope, and dead ahead. I couldn’t see anything but bounding blue.
I did a quick height-of-eye calculation–square root of my 8 feet off the water times 1.17–I should be able to see the vessel a solid 3.3 miles away–and that assumed it was flat as a pancake. Weird.
And what’s to fish for out here?
Now there were thirteen targets and the closest one should be approaching within a mile.
Suddenly, I saw an orange flash ahead. Faint. Several more waves passed; then again. And within ten minutes we’d passed a buoy topped by an antenna.
And almost immediately, I saw on the horizon to the east what the scope called the Shen Gang Shun 2. Long, squat and gray, making way toward one of the outlier buoys to the north.
Stranger still, it’s 6pm and we just passed another three on the scope. As I type, another pops up ahead.
I set two reefs in the working jib and two in the main after nightfall, not because the average wind speed called for anything like it, but so that Mo could stay on track without my help when the squalls hit. After dinner we got our first biggie dumping rain and pushing winds to 25 knots. Mo rounded about 20 degrees, but then settled in. So, I went to bed.
In the morning, winds were way down, so I popped reefs even before coffee. Within ten minutes, winds were east at 18 knots.