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Issuma
Squall
Richard
Thu Apr 9 10:20:00 EDT 2009

The rain (the dark area underneath part of the cloud in the picture) ahead has a squall (sudden increase in wind speed and often direction) with it. When this is coming for you, you get down some sails to be prepared for the much higher wind that you expect the squall to have. After a few minutes, it is generally over, and you tend to have the same wind speed and direction as you did before the squall.

There is an old sailor's rhyme about dealing with squalls: When rain comes before the wind, topsail sheets and halyards mind When wind comes before the rain, hoist your topsails up again

Yesterday the wind varied from Force 0 to Force 7, as it was mostly a squally day requiring lots of sail changes. The wind direction was favorable, though, so that was nice.

Sunset
Richard
Tue Apr 7 20:50:00 EDT 2009

Have had a lot of light winds, mostly from ahead, so far this trip. While that has resulted in really slow progress, it also makes for a lot of pretty sunsets.

Wed Apr 8 9:28:43 EDT 2009 | george Ray
Would like to read some commentary about sailing north up the coast as you are. Prevailing winds, time of year, commonly done or not, availability of harbors of refuge etc.
Fair Winds,
George
Thu Apr 16 16:38:32 EDT 2009 | Richard Hudson
Thanks for the suggestion, I've added some information on the route to the latest entry.
The Fisherman
Richard
Tue Apr 7 10:00:00 EDT 2009

The fisherman sail is a four-cornered sail that sets high up, between the masts of a schooner. The name fisherman comes from the use of schooners for fishing off the east coast of North America, where fisherman would hang their nets to dry between the masts. Later, sails put up in their place were called fisherman sails.

The fisherman sail is one of the nice things about the schooner rig, as it is not quite as difficult a sail to handle as a spinnaker (the multicolored balloon-like sails generally set poled out), and gets sail area up high, where there is more wind.

Originally, the fisherman on this boat was set from a roller-furling rig on the aft side of the foremast. That never worked well, as the roller-furling rig didn't entirely fit the sail, and setting the sail involved climbing 12m up the mast to pull the sail out of the furler. Instead of using the roller-furling rig, I had slides put on the luff (leading edge of the sail), so the fisherman is slid up and down the foremast for raising and lowering the sail. Keeping the luff attached to the foremast makes it much easier to raise and lower the fisherman by oneself.

Because I was not using the original furling mechanism, I started setting the fisherman upside-down from how it had been set before (it fit the space now available better that way). This resulted in different parts of the sail chafing against the wires of the rigging. So I had more chafe patches put on the sail to prevent the chafe from damaging it.

In Argentina, I asked a sailmaker to change the shape of the top, so that it fit the space even better. I wanted a panel added to the top, so the whole sail would be bigger, as well as one top corner cut down so it would be possible to raise it to the top of both masts. The sailmaker pointed out it would be easy to cut down one corner, but difficult to add to the sail. So the corner was cut down and the sail made slightly smaller.

I'm experimenting with how high I want the sail now (highest for getting the sail where there is the most wind, but the higher it is the harder it is to raise it without anything getting caught), which is why it isn't quite at the top of the masts in this picture. Raising it up is also going to change where the sail chafes against the rigging wires, so will involve some new chafe patches. The dark line in the sail is where the sail has rubbed against the rigging wires. After sailing with this for a while, I'll have a new line in the sail to look at to see where to put the chafe patches.

Sunset
Richard
Mon Apr 6 10:00:00 EDT 2009

Sunset over Isla Gorritti, Punta del Este. The sun is being framed by the windvane self-steering gear platform.

This picture was taken about 785 miles back (click on map for current location).

Genoa modification
Richard
Sun Apr 5 10:00:00 EDT 2009

I mentioned getting the genoa made smaller yesterday. This sunrise picture shows the problem with waves hitting the foot (lower edge of the sail). The seas are not at all rough in the picture, the wind is light, but when the bow cuts into the waves, water is forced up and some of it still catches the foot of the genoa, which strains the sail and the furler it is attached to. Waves are not high enough in this picture to require reefing the genoa, but when they get a little higher, the genoa will need to be reefed (and the boat will go slower). Now that the genoa has been made smaller (cloth was taken out of it), waves hitting it are less of a problem than they used to be.

Ship crossing
Richard
Sat Apr 4 10:00:00 EDT 2009

Ship crossing ahead. The genoa (the forward-most sail) was reduced in size in Argentina to make it easier to use. The foot is now higher and doesn't catch as many waves (also doesn't block visibility ahead so much).

Sunrise
Richard
Fri Apr 3 10:00:00 EDT 2009

A nice thing about getting up early is watching the sun rise.

Fri Apr 3 22:23:40 EDT 2009 | George Conk
Good time of year to be heading north. It would be great to Issuma in New York in May.
Thu Apr 16 16:37:45 EDT 2009 | Richard Hudson
Sorry for the delayed reply, I don't have access to the comments on the blog when at sea.

Think it will be at least June before Issuma gets to New York (after all, have been sort of heading there since last May, so a little longer doesn't make much difference at this point :) ).
Mostly light winds so far
Richard
Thu Apr 2 10:00:00 EDT 2009

So far, the wind has mostly been light, and sometimes calm, so speed has been low. There was a great tailwind yesterday (the picture is from a few days ago), but it is lightening up now.

Workng on the mainsail
Richard
Tue Mar 31 18:00:00 EDT 2009

The wind finally went behind us (it has been pretty much light headwinds and some calms so far this trip), so the mainsail could come down (the other sails stayed set) for some minor work. The slides that attach the sail to the sail track in the mast were originally attached with toy plastic shackles--too weak for the job, but designed to fail so that damage to the sail itself was prevented. Since the shackles all failed so frequently, they have been slowly replaced by either thin rope (which works, but doesn't stretch much to absorb shocks), or shock cord (which is what I'm sewing on in the picture).

Ships
Richard
Mon Mar 30 10:00:00 EDT 2009

Along the east coast of Uruguay and southern Brazil there are quite a few ships heading to and from Rio de la Plata. It is really nice having the AIS (Automated Identification System) when traffic is near, as you get a display of the ship's position, course, speed and name. Knowing the name of the ship makes it much easier to call them on the VHF to confirm which side they are passing or overtaking on if they look to be coming close. I called a Brazilian freighter the other night to confirm how what side they would overtake us on (and to confirm that they had seen Issuma on their radar). The freighter's crew had already computed our course and speed (their radar likely does most of this for them), and, while overtaking closer than I'd have preferred at 20 knots (a few hundred metres), there was no danger.

Clicking on the map on the right side of this page should show the most recently updated position.

Tue Mar 31 8:34:37 EDT 2009 | george Ray
So your hopping north up the coast instead of taking a big circle around the the S. Atlantic high to get back to N. America? Will make for a lot of great blogging and interesting reading for us armchair sailors.
Keep up the good work!

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