Two Thirds done and closing... but we have a Henry emergency!
jT - calm and sunny, waves finally less rolly, but wind also dropping
04/30/2009, Day 16 - Pacific Crossing to the Marquesas - 880 miles to go!
So you might have noticed we have been a tad quiet the last few days... turns out we have finally hit our Sailmail quota, and the radio server started rejecting our connections! As we are in the middle of nowhere, it takes a long time to connect to the radio modems, and then they have been VERY slow, so add all that up and you hit your weekly usage quota... so if you don't hear too much from us over the next few days, that's prob why... we will try to sneak in position reports as frequently as we can send (hopefully daily).
So what's been going on with Nemesis?... so far we have had a few critical things break during this passage... but we have tools and a good supply of spares so all has been mostly ok, or i've had to "McGuiver" it!
It started 300 miles from Galapagos, when our main halyard (the big rope that holds up the mainsail) broke with a crack! The sail tumbled merrily down, but with a spare block (read that pulley) we hoisted in the morning on are starboard spinnaker halyard (right rope to top of mast that can hold up our big, pretty sail for downwind use - we also have a port, left, spinnaker halyard). That lasted for 1700 miles, but last night it finally separated and came crashing down. So once again we were sailing under our jib, front sail, only. Still we were moving ok, at about 5 knots, losing about 1.5-2 knots without the mainsail up. So problem is, we only have four halyards that go all of the way up to the top of the mast, and with the 9 foot seas, i haven't even thought about going up onto the top to re-rig the broken halyards. So here is our delima, we have now broken two halyards, and only have the jib halyard and port spinnaker halyard left (to safely climb the mast, i require at least two halyards for a primary and then a safety). So we can't use either of the remaining halyards to jury- rig something to hoist the main on...
So that was the state of things last night. I lay in bed thinking about it, and figured out a way to try to hoist a small line all the way to our top, third, spreader and then use it to pull the broken spinnaker halyard up to run off the spreader. It could work i thought... so fast forward to this late morning, and picture Kirsty and I up on the foredeck, small lines, big halyards, three dive weights all suspended 50 feet up on the mast, swinging, banging and twisting itself around EVERYTHING in site... we even had it flip back with one wave and twist around the backstay!.... It looked like we weren't going to pull it off... and if that happened, my safety halyard would have been caught at the top of the mast... but with some fancy line pulling, we did manage to get the weights and all down... then it was just a matter of pulling the proper ropes up and getting the block set up... within hours we had our main hoisted and all was well, again! (we have left the "mousing" line tied over the third spreader, so if the halyard breaks again before the Marquesas it will be a quick and easy fix! So that has been the drama associated with the rigging.
A few days earlier we felt "Robbie", our autopilot totally lose the course.... no matter what we tried he wouldn't take back over steering... this was at 7am, mind you... just when Kirsty is getting pretty tired from her watch and I was still in sleeping mode on mine... well, all that changes when something critical breaks.... several hours later, I had found that the main bolt attaching the autopilot to the steering quadrant had broke... and with some black magic, I managed to re-use some existing bolts to get it back working.. until we can find and have made a new one.... it was a nice 7 hour fire-drill :)
So, all and all we have been pretty lucky... but that all came to an end on Tuesday afternoon!... the bogger broke! (read that toilet!)... So it was, when your 1500 miles from nowhere and only have one toilet! So we dug thru spares.... pulled apart the old one.... poked, prodded, cussed at, flushed at, and generally tryed all the tricks.... and failed.... out came the bucket! Granted, people have been using nightbowls and the outdoors since time began for us humans... but you don't have to like it, Kirsty screamed! hehehehehhe.... yeah, we went thru the bucket jokes, pooh humor, it was all going on.... but at the same time we sorted it down to the sewage line being blocked somewhere after the toilet and before the seacock.... ugly as it would be, the entire v-berth and all of our stored supplies would have to be moved in the morning to access and find the blockage.... NOT looking forward to either of those jobs.... but, as luck (and frequent, frantic pumping) prevailed.... at the watch-change around 3am, the blockage pushed thru!!!! the bucket o' Henry was not going to have to be!
Ahhh... and who says we get bored on a 22 day, 3000 mile passage ..
update ya'll soon,
j "Not my Henry" T
Passing the Half Way Mark
KB - Sunny, raining, windy, rolly and always hot and humid
04/26/2009, Day 12 - Pacific Crossing to the Marquesas - 1350 miles to go
We passed through the half way mark yesterday - a big achievement - almost exactly 11 days to the minute since we pulled up our anchor and sailed out of the Santa Cruz harbour, it seems like such a long time ago. We are making good time, averaging around 7kts per hour for the past 4-5 days. We had our quickest day so far yesterday at 180.1 miles. That quick sail came with a huge storm front that rolled across us for the better part of the morning, lots of rain, squalls and weird wind patterns. You get used to the wind coming from the same direction at about the same speed so when a storm comes through and mixes it up its a bit of a shock! Without a doubt the hardest thing to deal with out here are the waves, some of them are huge and they are coming in from the south to our beam, so we are getting moved around a lot. It makes for interesting times since we have to do everything on a 15% heel with a rolly motion just to keep us on our toes - its everything you can do to keep your dinner in one spot, we havent eaten from a plate for quite a while, bowls all round. There is not much else to report at this point, we are both doing well and havent gone stir crazy yet. The days tend to be focused around watch, sleep, eating and reading - nothing too interesting in that, but amazingly enough the time passes by very quickly!
We are updating our position report daily when we remember so you can follow our progress on the map - I'm manually charting our progress on our big Pacific map on board, its the best part of the day to see how much extra distance we have knocked off since yesterday. We have about 1350 miles, which should be about 9 days left to go and we are counting down... by miles, by days and anything else we can think of!
Here come the trade winds
KB - hot and sunny with big thunderheads crossing over with storms regularly
04/22/2009, Day 8 - Pacific Crossing to the Marquesas - 2200 miles to go
With our pet fish Dilly the Dorado days behind us we are now almost 1 week out of the Galapagos. As we move into Day 8 of the passage we have made good time to this point, we always expected the first week out to be our slowest while we got down to a southerly latitude low enough for the trades to really be cranking. We averaged around 5 knots or 110 miles a day for the first 6 days and yesterday morning after making our way through a strong storm system from the north for a couple of hours and getting drenched in the process we reached 4 degrees south and there they were just waiting for us.
I had spent the best part of the past 2 days repairing our large headsail (135% jib). I had to resew the majority of the foot by hand, about 20 feet worth and whack on about half a role of sail repair tape where we have had some sun damage. Perfect timing, just as the trade winds kicked in the big jib was ready to be put back into action. We had been running with our small, heavy jib for the past few days and it had done remarkably well in the light winds - not even flogging itself to death too much, but we get all our pace out of the big sail and with the winds now blowing consistently at 10-15 knots from the SW it was time for the big guy to get back to work. The change in our speed was immediate we went from an average of 5 knots to 7 knots instantly, with the speed on the GPS regularly kicking in the 8 and sometimes 9 knot range - not bad at all. The jump up in pace will definitely bring down our ETA date if we keep it up. Right now we are on the rhumb line (that means we are heading in a straight line directly for the anchorage at Hiva Oa) on a beam reach - a dream sail right now, even with the 15% heel and occasional rocking that we are getting from the big 10 feet rollers coming in from SE we couldn't ask for better conditions. Of course the occasional squall comes through and get us drenched just to keep us honest, there is a surprisingly large amount of storm activity in the area, supposedly it calms down as we move further west, we will find out soon enough.
As we expected there really is nothing out here, we saw a couple of birds two days ago and it was a major wildlife spotting moment. The only life we see are the small flying fish and baby squid that launch themselves onto the foredeck overnight. We have to do a morning tour and clean them off each day - they might get a little stinky out here in the sun. Its damn hot when it comes out and the cabin is a sauna during the day. The best place to be right now is in the cockpit with the sunshade up, a good book and a cool trade wind blowing!
Learning Patience and How to Be a Mini McGiver
KB - hot, humid, sunny, overcast, squalls, wind, no wind - a little bit of everything
04/19/2009, Day 5 - Pacific Crossing to Marquesas, About 400 west of the Galapagos
It looks like I'm going to need patience in vast quantities on this trip over and also some McGiver manouvers - actually I'll leave those up to Jeff, if I started jerry building things we would really be in trouble. We are tracking pretty well at the moment, we have come 500 miles since we left, 2550 to go (not that I'm counting down or anything). We are continuing to hold our course higher than the other boats doing the same trek, pretty much everyone else has gone straight down to around 5 degrees south to pick up the trades. We are tracking along around 3 degrees south and will very slowly head south and as we move west for the next 2000 miles. We decided to take this track because we didnt want to get caught out in some of the very heavy and confused seas down south and heavy winds, our sails are old and we are just not sure they can take a heavy beating for such a long trip.
Was this the right decision... depends when you ask me! I'm not the most patient person in the world so a fast sail over would be a good sail, but on the flip side 3000 miles of heavy weather sailing might not be that much fun. And I change my mind about this every couple of hours depending on if we have wind and what else is going on. Yesterday (day 4) was a bit of test for us. We were in light and variable wind and the sails were twisting and flogging and generally driving us crazy - its also not great for them to flog around too much. We had just dropped our spinnaker and were getting ready to drop the main when we hear an almighty crash, the main has decided to drop itself. Not good. Both Jeff and I looked at each other wondering if the other one had accidently tripped the clutch on the main and it had come down.. no such luck, the main halyard had broken. Excellent, we are now in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with no main. I immediately assume we are going to have to turn back and fix it in the Galapagos.. Jeff is not interested in that as a first option at all, he thinks there must be some way to fix it at sea without going up the mast to reattach it... its very rolly out here and neither of us thought it was a good idea for Jeff to be hanging off the top of the mast while it sways 20 feet from side to side. So after a little reading up from our little onboard boat maintenance book library and some ferreting though the spares he had rigged up a solution with one of the spinnaker halyards that will work until we get to the Marquesas. Go Jeff!
So the wind had still not picked up while all this was going on and we decided to hove to and both us get some sleep. There is nothing else around out here so there is very little chance we are going to get run over while we sleep. I managed to make it to 4.30am before I got up and got us moving again, during the time we had been hove to we had moved forward 16 miles, the boat sailing itself. The batteries needed charging so we did some motor sailing, I headed us south to find some wind and by about 7am we ran into some decent wind. Time to wake Jeff up (he had been asleep since 9pm, taking full advantage of not having to be on night watch). We got the spinnaker up and really started moving along, betwen 6 and 7 knots. We were having a great sail, blue skies all is good and then it closes in, turns grey, oh oh looks like we are in for a squall. We had already been through a couple with the spinnaker up, its not much fun but as long as you run downwind they only seem to last for a few minutes. We had rounded up a couple of times the day before, which basically means that you have too much sail up for the amount of wind and the boat wants to put its head to wind wether you like it or not. We had recovered OK the day before and were starting to see the signs of when the squalls were approaching and getting ready for them. We went through one squall very well, no problems, the second one coming through was a bit nastier because the direction we had to head to keep downwind put us with the waves coming at us from directly behind. A huge wave come through and next thing you know we are rounded up with our spinnaker ripped in half. Bugger, bugger, bugger. All is OK we got the boat back under control and pulled the spinnaker down, thankfully its a pretty easy fix, the tape came apart and we have plenty of spare sail repair tape on board for just this type of thing so I guess thats what I will be doing tomorrow. After that squall the wind once again died out, another minute and we would have been fine, but thats sailing.
So based on the couple of things we have had gone a little less according to plan than we would have liked, it looks like we have made the right decision to keep out of the really rough stuff - its meant to ease off the further west you go. The next day or two will be spent fixing the sails (our main jib also needs some stitching and sail tape - I wasnt joking when I said our sails were old) and by then we will have reached our next waypoint, which is where we start moving slowly south. At that point we will decide how far south we go, how quickly based on the wind we have at the time, but we are happy to take an extra couple of days getting there to save ourselves a lot more breakages. Still it doesnt stop me for wishing for just a little more consistent wind :)
Day 2 - Fish School
jT - Sunny and mild
04/16/2009, The Pacific Passage to the French Marquesas
With the wind shifting behind us, we finally set our big spinnaker (big colorful sail used for downwind sailing, also called a kite). It was very light wind, 2 -3 knots, so we set the kite and lowered our mainsail. In light winds, the waves will rock the boat from side to side, and the heavy mainsail and jib will rock back and forth with a slapping noise. This is called slatting, and after several days it either drives you crazy, or you stop hearing it :) With the spinnaker up, we just drop our mainsail to keep it from slatting and get propelled by the kite. It was working like a charm... 4 to 5 knots in 3 knots of breeze! We also assume there is some current helping us as well, but as our log (paddle wheel beneath the boat that reads speed onto a digital display) is in the USA getting repaired, we can only know how fast the GPS tells us we are going over the ground. With the log, you would take the speed it gives moving through the water and subtract out from the total speed on the GPS to give you speed of the current. No prob, we'll just guess!
As we are setting up the spinnaker pole on the foredeck, Kirsty sees some fish swimming with us! (Kirsty is the wildlife spotter in most cases, she has a knack for seeing things and finding cool animals. So these were yellow-fin tuna of medium size, two to three feet long, and some others that might have been Albacore Tuna. The Albacore had a blue horizontal line down the body, and then three stripes behind the dorsal fin that were purple in color; these strips started on the sides and joined over the tail in three concentric rings. If you recognize this for certain, drop us a comment. We checked our fish book and it has all the fins and finlets of a tuna, just can't confirm the exact type.
So it turns out that we have a school of these tuna swimming with us. They are on both sides of the boat, and keeping up quite effortlessly at 5 knots. Darting from side to side, all ganging up when another makes a splash feeding on something. This goes on for hours! Nothing like free entertainment while in the middle of the Pacific Ocean... we'll have to call it Tunny TV, all Tuna, all the Time . At times, there must be small bait fish that flee from the approaching sailboat, (we are like the fishes mother ship.. they were using us to spook prey, and also they would suck up close when some bigger fish got near!) as they would be jumping out of the water in pursuit. Nothing like a tuna flying free of the water in a perfect arc.
After a few hours, I noticed a green shape hanging around on the port side of the boat. This fish was larger and hanging back from the rest of the pack. It was the deep glowing green that I recognize from hauling a few of them in! DORADO! She was hovering near Nemesis, but would dart off to feed or investigate. Always she would return to the port beam, just in front of the wake. Hours went by, I tossed in a few lures, which she would dart over to, but ignore! Ah, nothing like a fish for a pet in the open ocean... Eight hours later, the tuna had gone, but still with us was our faithful pet Dorado. Kirsty even decided to name it, Dilbert the Dorado... or Dilly for short. With a graceful flick of the tail, fins streamlined, she kept pace at 7 knots without fail. After I made fresh tuna sandwich for lunch, I even fed her the scraps of tuna... she was pretty consistent.... 100% if you dropped it in front of her, but she wouldn't turn too much to get a piece that fell to her side. Just like a shadow, Dilly kept near
After dark we were sure she would have left, we speculated wether a fish could or would follow a boat all the way across the ocean.... hmmm i guess time will tell. The moon hadn't risen yet, and in the glowing phosphorescence at the side, was our able Dorado - Dilly. So fun to watch in the glowing trails, back and forth, like a spectral being, ghosting along. So ended the second night of passage, the question remained if Dilly would see us through to dawn's early light?