A Numbers Game (Day 10)
04 April 2011
John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: http://travel.reservationkey.com Latitude: 11.40837 Longitude: -121.89375
If things really do happen in threes, then we should be all settled up for a while. Over the last three days we have had three fairly major equipment issues. First, our holding tank would not drain so we spent an afternoon on fixing that. Late yesterday afternoon our jib sail would not furl due to an override with the furling line inside the furling drum. As the wind was predicted to increase to around 22 knots after dark, we decided to reef early, a few hours before sunset. Good thing we decided to reef then since we found the problem before dark. Fixing it meant lowering the sail onto the deck, not exactly an easy task in stiff winds. As we turned into the wind in order to slacken the sail, the waves started pounding over our bowsprit onto the deck. I was sitting on deck, with my feet in the anchor locker, wishing I was wearing a swim mask getting pounded by the waves while loosening the shackle between the furling drum and the sail. With Bruce and Francois and myself helping, however, we were able to get the sail on board without too much trouble. As we brought the last part of the sail on deck we were shocked to see that the shackle holding the top of the sail to the halyard had become almost completely unscrewed. If it has opened while the jib was raised there would have been no way to pull the halyard down and re-raise the jib. The only option would have been a trip up the mast to retrieve the halyard. So, finding this when we did was a real stroke of luck. Next we had to figure out how to untangle the furling line from the drum. I thought we would have to take the furler apart, so I loosened a few screws, but that caused the entire sail track to slide down about ten inches, further into the drum. Reposition the track required attaching hose clamps to the track and then hoisting it back up with the halyard. It was a dumb move on my part to loosen the screws without a really good plan of what to do. But, it turned out ok as we were able to put it back together without losing any parts or breaking anything. By this time I was soaking wet and pretty cold, so Bruce took over and went to work on straightening the furling line. He found that the end stopper knot of the line had slipped out the bottom of the drum and through the housing. This was causing the drum to not spin properly. He was able to pull it up and also straighten the override. I thought we would have to remove the line completely, but luckily we did not need to do so. Raising the sail was much easier than lowering it since we did not need to turn upwind thankfully. We finished this project just as the sun set and the wind started howling even stronger.
As far as things happening in threes, our third incident happened this morning, shortly after breakfast. I was watching an episode of The Wire in my bunk with my big headphones on when I heard a loud commotion in the salon. It turned out that Antoine, in the freezer, using a steak knife to chip out his ice enclosed water bottle gel pack, had accidentally punctured the refrigeration element releasing all of the Freon. Although we have lots of spare parts on board, we do not have a spare refrigerator and a hole in the refrigeration is fatal to a refrigerator. What this means, is that for the duration of our crossing we will no longer have refrigerated food. Refrigeration is not exactly critical for our passage, but it was a nice convenience. We had a nice supply of frozen meat that now we have to use or loose. Our plan is to make a large pot of stew in the pressure cooker and repressurize it after every use. As long as the pot is repressurized, the contents will stay fresh. Since some of the meat is still frozen we can probably stretch our refrigeration about one more day before we have to cook everything. We also might try drying some of the meat in the sun and making beef jerky. This should be easy, since the sun is really hot here. As we get close in on the equator, I am definitely noticing a temperature increase. My cabin now rarely is below 30C, whereas in PV it was often in the low 20's.
Weatherwise, we are still moving along at a decent clip. We saw some of our first squalls today which we were able to easily avoid. We also continue to find lots of flying fish and squid on deck every morning.
While we are now in double digits, at day 10 of our passage, I predict we will soon be back in single digits as far as days remaining go. At our current rate we have approximately 12 days left before we make landfall in the Marquesas. We will be ordering repair parts in advance (so far a new radar unit, and now, items for the refrigerator) and hopefully they will be waiting for us when we arrive. After all, it is said cruising on a small sailboat is all about fixing your boat in exotic locations.