Limping to Palmerston
25 September 2008 | South Pacific
All things considered we are having a fairly nice, albeit slow, passage. We set out from Maupiti for the 625 nm trip looking forward to smooth sailing and 200 mile days. We plan for 160 nm days but hope for 200. We've been barely making the minimum with the help of the diesel. We sailed our first day and then had the traveler melt down. We motored the first night and then motor sailed the second day until the traveler gave out again, then went into trawler mode. Last night we crossed the fading SPCZ sheer line. It rained almost all night and we had no sky from about two hours before sunset until dawn. This morning early we had a little 20 some knot squall and the seas got really sharp, building into the 3 meter zone, but it passed in an couple of hours.
Today we are back to sailing with the full main and jib up, making five to eight knots in the light air on a deep reach. We can't move the traveler without surgery so we can only sail on a port tack reach anyway. The traveler car is heavily duct taped and a sufficient number of bearings are in place to keep the car on the track, hopefully. Because the port cap is broken the car is only secured on the starboard side and simply jammed on the port side. The light conditions (10-15 knots true from 150 off the port bow) combined with the 4-8 foot swell is really working the rig. Not a good thing while trying to limp into port with a broken traveler.
Today I talked to Independent Freedom (an unstayed Freedom yacht) and Plan B (a Privilege cat) over the SSB and both have experience with this traveler system. Each had some good advice for repairs to the traveler car. It is a Lewmar traveler and is less than 3 years old! In a fairly shocking oversight, bordering on negligence in my book, Lewmar decided to use plastic end caps for the traveler car to capture the Torlon bearings and hold the car on the track. The plastic they picked falls apart when exposed to UV after two seasons. Hmm, let's see, sailboats, tropics, intense sunshine 24/7, yes these things go together. I know Lewmar is from England where they don't see the sun too often but come on. Apparently the new Lewmar cars have aluminum end caps. We will be having a few of these metal caps shipped to Niue if possible. Plan B has also offered to meet us in Niue and they may have some spares to offer that will fit our car. You have to love cruisers, what wonderful folks.
We have to keep an eye on the fuel because we're pretty much out in the middle of no where. Closest possible fuel is Niue a good three nights out. We could motor the whole way there with what we have left (this boat has good tankage) but I prefer to come in with a safe reserve so we're sailing. If has been a near perfect afternoon of it as well. Wind about 130 to port at 11 apparent and a close together but reasonable 6 foot swell on the quarter. We're gliding along at 7 knots into the sunset.
255 nm to Palmerston