Temperamental Winds--Day 23
05 May 2012 | 250 miles NE of Hiva Oa
The winds down below the equator definitely are more temperamental than their northern counter-parts. We have experienced long hours of calms, then a lightning filled squall pushes the wind gauge to over thirty knots, and we quick;y race on deck to shorten sail before anything breaks or worse, we get knocked down or blow a sail out. These squalls generally don't last more than 20-30 minutes, but last night it seemed the we traveled in it for a couple of hours. I think we were both just heading the same direction at the same pace.
The calms seem to be consistent, right around 2-3 in the afternoon, wind lightens down to below 5 knots, which makes it difficult to keep wind in the sail and Passpartout complains it is so low he can't feel it over the deck to make any adjustments. We would normally motor, but with the raw water pump leaking at the seal, I would rather save our motoring for around the island. We have already ordered a replacement pump and should arrive shortly after we arrive in Hiva Oa, ahhh! email technology and fedex, well and Christina and Jason (my mechanic) helped also--thanks!!
We have not been immune to other breakage. On my dog watch, with a full moon, I watched as the spinnaker halyard snapped at the top of the sail, sending the code zero helplessly into the water, dragged at the bow. We quickly got her back on the boat and lashed on the deck. We'll go aloft when we get to the islands to re-run the halyard through the block at the top of the mast. Paul has volunteered to go up the stick, we'll wait until we are in a safe, smooth anchorage.
We have been getting our share of chafe on the running rigging. On a long passage like this, the consistent motion of of lines, going through blocks or rubbing against stuff, slowly starts to fray. You need to be diligent and keep an eye on things.
During the morning watch after the squalls, with a near full moon overhead, we were escorted by a pod of dolphins, that seemed to stay with us for about an hour, showing us the way. Must be a good sign we are nearing our first landfall.