04/13/2011, Out on the ocean
Yesterday evening, we had a bird fest at Zephyrs mast head. Brown Boobies were vying for the space at the top. We ended up with three very determined birds not only on the top of the mast but out along our wind vane that tells us wind speed as well as direction. An important instrument for a sailor. No amount of shaking of the lines that go to the mast nor pounding on the rigging did any good. They were in for the night. By morning, they are gone but we expect another crew out this evening. About 8 birds in all were vying for the top space. None wanted the previous evening birds place on the stern rail. Go figure.
The night was very bouncy with disorganized waves and swells from primarily north but they came in bunches instead of the 10 to 12 second intervals that is the norm. We rocked and rolled all night long with poor Zephyr grunting and groaning all through the night. Tracy came up on watch at midnight and I took her place at 0400. With it being so rocky, she went to bed(if you can call it that) with a headache.
It's not safe to just stand in our boat any more. You have to either hold on to something or sit down to do any thing. That even includes getting dressed or undressed. You slide your shorts on and then sit down. On for the socks and shoes(still sitting). You even put on your shirt while seated. Once you get that far, you judge the speed of the rocking and then stand quickly and fasten and zip your pants. Every movement on board takes forethought. You can't just get up and go. The bruises, cuts and scrapes on my body attest to that-- and never, not ever stand on one of the plexy glass hatches on deck. Those suckers are slick when salt covers them.
With the failure of the bearing at the top of our roller furler, I had planed to go up the mast today to fix it. We dug out the parts from under the stern bunk and then made plans as to what else needed to be taken up with me. Heck, I even did the unmanly thing of actually reading the instruction manual on how to fix it. We played with putting Zephyr in a "heave to" position. This is where you adjust your sails so that the boat no longer has any forward momentum. It simply sits in the water and slowly moves down wind. We'd never done it before. After some adjustments, Zephyr slid right into the heave to position with just a bit of forward momentum. With Tracys help, I put on the bosuns chair and attached lines to it and started up the mast. The winds were lite and the swells were not too bad. As I started up, --up came the winds and out came the waves. They had been hiding all along. After getting bounced around the mast from the back side of it to the front side of it and pushed around the shrouds that support the mast, I decided it was no longer calm enough to allow me to get to the top of the mast. We'll try again tomorrow with the mainsail down so I can use the steps I put on the mast while we were in Paradise Village. I'll have more traction doing it that way.
We got a message from our weather router that we should head more westerly to catch better winds so after all the mast equipment was put away, we hoisted the sails again to the top of the mast and took off. OK, no genoa sail to really give us power, but we are still doing 5+ knots most of the time and I'm happy with that. We'd be in the 7 range with the genoa out. But tomorrow is another day. Most of the other boats that left with us all took a more westerly course while we headed more southwest to hit the ITCZ as soon as we could. Our new course will allow us a bit faster speed as the wind will be on our beam.
The skies are now just partly cloud which is an improvement over yesterday 80% cloud cover. It's a beautiful shade of blue out there. The kids are coming out more and more but if looks could kill, Blue would have us all walking the plank. They're adjusting quite well considering what the weather and seas were the first few days out here.
Tracy's two cents:
Bill really covered yesterday fairly well, so I don't have a lot to add. The seasickness is getting better, I haven't taken meds since last night and I feel okay. When we had to take everything out from under the stern berth, that normally would have put me out for the count and writing this blog would be unthinkable, so I must be getting better!
Oh, about the spare parts box under the berth. We couldn't have put it on the top layer, oh no, it was under EVERYTHING. So out everything came and the parts were retrieved and then all the stuff (great ballast) went back in with my box of cross stitch supplies down in the bottom and the spare parts box at the top along with the medicine box. Trying to think ahead...
Bill is right about the bruises and scrapes. We are really black and blue, some scrapes I don't even remember what happened.
The skies are nice and blue this afternoon after lots of cloud cover, so moods are better. We just finished lunch of smoked gouda, crackers and grapes and an ice cold soft drink. Wow, what heaven. I have a fresh pineapple that we are going to have to eat soon. Things ripen awfully fast , I'm surprised how much I've had to pitch overboard because it had gone over the hill...several oranges, a lemon and an apple as well as a cabbage that was a victim of the overflowing head. Euuuu. Uck.
Last night, about 0245, I saw a LARGE ship on the horizon and tried to raise it on the VHF radio. No response. I tried looking for it on our Nobeltec program that shows the AIS (Automatic Identification system) but it wasn't listed there either. I raised Bill and he tried the same thing and then turned on all the outside lights on Zephyr. Eventually we saw the ship turn to their port and slowly pass us in the night. That's only the second ship we have seen out here other than one or two of the other sail boats headed for the Marquesas. It's quite the deserted ocean out here.
Flying fish/ squid suicide report: 3 flying fish one squid. More in twenty four.
04/12/2011, Out on the ocean
So far this morning, one of the bearings at the top of the roller furling Genoa blew out. Now I get to go up the mast and fix it. Then, the engine refused to start. Bad battery or bad connection. It took some time and a bit of a charge from the Honda Generator that we carry and the engine finally started. The Duogen if doing a great job of keeping the main house batteries charged so I flicked a switch and joined up the start batteries with it so now every one is getting a charge. I plan on starting the engine every morning and evening just to make sure she will start up when we need her. One of the screws that holds our reefing lines to the boom blew out. Glad we found it as most of the screws that are in the boom were loose and needed tightening. I normally check them but missed them this time.
A booby spent the night as a hitchhiker on our stern. I thought it would be all right as he was out over the stern of the boat. Unfortunately, his poop didn't make it past the end of the stern so now we have a big mess to clean up. Glad the kids didn't come out and see him/her. I think it would have scared them to death as he/she is as big as they are.
We have the spinnaker up and are making progress again today. We did 135 miles over the last 24 hours and that's not to bad given the fluky winds we have been having. As of 1300(MDT) we were at 16 50.486N 111 22.052W with a course of 210 degrees true. I'll be quite happy with 135 miles each day. One of our buddy boats did only 74 miles on one of their days out here.
Tracy's blog for Day 3
Routines are starting to show up, I've noticed. Sleep patterns are getting better. Last night for part of my off watch I tried to sleep on the stern bed, but the rolling was different than I'm used to and I couldn't get comfortable, so I ended up on the port settee again and caught a few zzzs. Yesterday was a great sailing day, the wind was cooperating and the waves were tolerable. Meals were easier to prepare. Lunch was our hot meal, I make Arracherra Tacos with sauteed onions and avacado slices. Dinner was grilled cheese sandwiches as the weather was a bit blustery.
The cat's are getting their sea legs to the point that they are coming out to eat and drink then going back to their chosen spots to sleep or continue with their mental lashing at the humans in their lives. Blue just has that look in her eyes..."I hate you, why do I have to be in this stupid boat with you? Don't you know I'm a mountain cat???" Snowshoe cuddles up during the night and purrs and wants chin scratches. Let me tell you, there isn't much room for both of us on a settee that is only 24" wide.
The water today is a beautiful dark blue with a hint of purple in it. The colors are just amazing to me.
Buena Vista, the boat that had engine trouble yesterday, turned back to get it fixed in Puerto Vallarta. I feel so badly for he and his crew.
This morning the wind slowly is shutting down. The ocean still has 6 to 8 foot swells at 20 seconds, but the wind wave action is nearly gone. I've seen Lake Granby in Colorado more turbulent. Bill's getting frustrated with today's broken list, but is taking things in stride, hopefully, no more will go wrong today.
Flying fish/ squid suicides: 4 flying fish, one of which was in the cockpit by the companionway, very stinky. No squid today. One booby that finally left, but won't be forgotten for a while, we still have to clean up after it. The water temp is up to 78 degrees, cabin temp is 84 degrees. Not much radio chatter today so far... We changed our clocks back another hour as sunrise was coming after 0800 and that's a bit late. So now we are on Mountain Daylight time. We'll have a few more time zones to go through before we get to the Marquesas. More in twenty four.
04/11/2011, Out on the ocean
We've made it anther 150 miles again in the last 24 our period. We're now at 17 47.187N 109 20.950W with a good 15 knot wind from the North and a 4 to 6 foot swell which beats the 10-12 footers we had yesterday. We've taken a course of 240 degrees to get us to the ITCZ as quickly as possible at 10 degrees north but 130 degrees west where we will cross the equator.
I slid and fell yesterday while on deck while setting a reef in the mainsail. I took off a good bit of the skin on my right elbow but it's something a large bandaid can cover. I torqued my right wrist while I was at it so it's a bit upset with me.
The kids are settling in coming out of their sleeping spots to take care of personal business and then heading right back in to them. They don't wander around much.
So that's how we are so far--a bit grumpy and a bit groggy due to lack of good sleep but all in all, doing fine.
Day two was another raucus ride. Both Bill and I are seasick as well as the rest of the fleet. Yesterday, the sun was in and out of smudgy puffy clouds. They are all dark on the bottoms, I guess that means lots of moisture being brought up from the convergence zone.
The seas were tempestuous and beautiful at the same time. The colors of blue out here are stunning. It was rough enough that meals, real meals were out of the question. My stomach wouldn't have taken galley time at all, so smoked gouda on saltines for lunch and a small chicken caesar salad for dinner. I think I really made a mistake by not either buying or making most of our meals. Karen off Gigi bought or made 72 meals. Without a generator running, microwaving for us would be out of the question. Surely, someday, my stomach will settle down and life will get back to "normal".
Last night the bioluminesence was stunning. The moon is getting to be half full, we can actually see the sea state. I pulled out my iPod and watched The Queen then listened to music until my watch ended. Bill gave me an extra hour of sleep which was blissful, so I returned the favor. I don't know if he slept the last hour or not, but an extra hour of rest hopefully helped. I know he's not feeling very well after his spill onto the deck. Seeing him land with his throat against the lifeline scared me. We must be mindful off each step we take, it just let's you know how fragile life is.
Squid/flying fish total today: 4 flying fish and 2 squid. 2 Boobies hitch hiking with messes to still be cleaned up Forward head decided to backfill with nasty smelling liquid...tried to clean that up, but still have to disinfect the floor and sump under the floor, trying to ignore that until it calms down at bit. More in twenty four...
04/10/2011, Out on the ocean
We left yesterday afternoon about 1300 and have gone 150 nautical mile in the last 24 hours. The first day was tough. Lots of wind--25 knots and rolly seas that made for a VERY uncomfortable passage so far. We're currently at 19 11.101N 107 17.184W for those of you with google earth. I had to take my first sea sickness meds this morning. We've talked to several boats since we left out here on our radio and all are experiencing the same rough conditions. We took two reefs in the main sail and rolled up all but 30% of the Genoa sail at the bow. We did hoist the small forestaysail witch helped keep our speeds up in the mid 7 knot range so we're making good time. We may be able to talk to the other boats but haven't seen a single one since we took off.
Here's Tracy's post: Okay, I didn't take my super duper seasick meds, I took Gravol that I'd purchased in Canada. They had been working, BUT in the rough seas they pooped out and left me nauseous, really nauseous. I was praying the sea gods would come and shoot me. Both cats were sick and had thrown up. We were just such a happy group yesterday.
The sun poked it's head out and turned the ocean into the most gorgeous color of Colbalt blue. The clouds are low and look wet, but I don't think we'll get any rain out of them.
So far food has been a huge challenge. I feel as though I'm in an earthquake simulator. Nothing stay still.. I put a cup down and away it goes. Unfortunately, the cup had boiling water in it for my morning tea. I did manage to step aside just in time, but the little carpet in galley is soaked. Everything takes twice as long to do. Breakfast should be such an easy task, but making instant oatmeal is a huge production. Lunch was cheese and crackers, Bill is still queasy and I'm borderline.
The winds are great in the 15 to 20 range, just what Zephyr loves. We've been flying low. We hired a weather router at the last minutes because this years weather is so flakey, but so far we have had no problem following his waypoints. We are on a beam reach, that's with the wind on our direct side, but the waves are also on our beam. With 10 foot roller and windwaves on our beam, we are not very comfortable yet. Hopefully, this will change when we reach the Trade Winds in a few day.
So far, so good for us. Buena Vista has water in their oil in their engine, so they have to change out their oil cooler. That's a hard job in bumpy seas. More tomorrow. Fish report: not fishing yet, you think we're nauseous now, the though of cleaning a fish right now is too much to bear. Squid/flying fish report:0 Times soaked by a rogue wave:1 for Tracy and 1 for Snowshoe (he was in my lap)
04/10/2011, Out on the ocean
We finally left yesterday just after 1300 hours. Motored a few miles and then up with the sails. The winds grew--18 to 25 knots as did the waves--10 feet high and very rolly which made for a faster than average journey so far but VERY uncomfortable. For the first time, i took sea sickness meds. Maybe sea sick or just nerves. Better this afternoon. We're at 19 11.101N 107 17.184W heading 252 True and have gone 150 nautical miles in the first 24 hours. Our max speed was 10 knots. We spent most of the night with two reefs in the main plus the Genoa was furled so only about 30% was showing. We had the forestaysail up witch added a good knot of speed to our progress. Every one says the first few days are the roughest and we both agree. The kids are not happy in the least but they will just have to adjust. So, all is well--sort of and the winds are still running about 15 knots. If you will recall, I mentioned in an earlier post about starting out on Friday. Well, three boats did just that. Two returned to the marina later in the day and the third just radioed us that they have engine problems--water in their oil. We had the same thing last year when we were at Catalina Island. Don off Buena Vista radioed me for advise(go figure). I told him to look at his oil cooler unit as there are very few ways to get water in the oil and that's normally the cause. It was with us. I now carry two backups. Sorry this is so short but I have to get back on deck. More tomorrow. By the way, I'm posting this via our SSB radio so there will be no pictures(not much to see out here other than ocean any way)until we get to the Marquesas.
04/08/2011, La Cruz Marina
Well, another day gone with lots of things done to get us ready for tomorrows send off.
We got an email from our friends on Gigi that they needed some help. They left here almost two weeks ago(when we were supposed to go) and need a bit of help. During one particular rolly session, the little propane lighter stick they use to light their stove went flying across the galley and it broke when it hit the floor. They asked us to pick up some more before we left if we could. They had purchased a special one that takes replacement cartridges instead of use it till it doesn't work and throw it away. They have lots of the refill, but only one lighter stick. I took a trip to Walmart in Puerto Vallarta and got them two more that we will pass along when we meet up in Tahiti.
I fired up the water maker again today and found a small leak at one of the connections. I took it apart twice and added several wraps of teflon tape to try and seal it up--all of course to no good. So, since I was already going to Walmart, I just had to make a second stop at Zaragosa Marine store where everything is normally about 70% higher than it would be in the US but when you are just about the only place in town for marine parts, you can get away with it(and they do). Lucky for me, they had the parts I needed so it made for a worthwhile trip(what a surprise).
Back to Zephyr just after 1400 and back to getting the water maker fixed. A few more wraps of teflon tape and just for fun, a small smearing of some silicone caulk and I screwed on the fitting. On with the hoses and the clamps and they job is done. Now I just have to wait till tomorrow to fire it up again and make sure it doesn't leak.
Once that was done, we fired up the engine just so I could inspect all the lines and fittings. Hey, guess what I found? A new leak at the new fuel pump!!!! Now to get at the fuel pump, I have to take off the oil filter assembly. While I have an engine room that most sailer would kill for, there are still some size restrictions. Off came the filter and in with the 1/2" wrench(done it so many times I know the wrench sizes by heart). A quick 1/4 turn and a start of the engine and no more leak. Back on with the oil filter assembly and the job was done. I'll start the engine again tomorrow morning just to double check it one last time. It's better to find it now while it's easy to fix than after we set off. I'm becoming one with my engine.
We've hired a weather router since the weather out there is behaving strangely and we would feel better getting advise from a professional while in transit. We will receive out first report early tomorrow morning before we set off. Hopefully he will give us the green light that it's a good time to take off and not have to stop again for a better window. Tomorrow will tell the tale. I'm not sure we'd stop leaving even if he said we should stay. It may be a bit rolly and windier that we would have liked but we have to get out of here.
Several boats took off today. Now sailor any good sailor knows that you just don't leave on any trip on a Friday. It just isn't done( I have no idea why, but it just isn't done--I should Google it I guess). So far two of the boats that took off have returned. One with engine trouble(gee we know how they feel and the other we have no idea.
We've worked just about every system on Zephyr since we got here. She's as ready as she will ever be.
Tomorrow is the day--almost two years since we set out for Alaska from Port Townsend.