WWR- WWW Update #23
26 October 2018 | Ebeye, Kwajalein Atoll, RMI
Karen / WInd- NW 10-12, Sunny, a few clouds
Hello Good People,
FIrst, as a preamble to what might be a rather long and perhaps, chaptered update, I have decided to talk about the sailing from MY point of view. The WWR stands for “ What Went Right” and therefore you can figure out the corollary for the second part of the title. To explain a bit about the sailing culture, radio net talk starts with boat identification, people onboard, position in lat and long on the earth, wind velocity, direction, sea state, compass heading, boat velocity, distance to objective ( anchorage), and/or nautical miles to go. If all that is heard you are lucky, it is then given back to you in “your read back” from the net controller. The usual ending is “ all well onboard”. If nothing else is heard, your identification and the “ all well onboard” take you off their possible concern list until the next day , at the “ same time, same station” when the volunteer net control person incharge on that day,does a repeat of the day before checking in any vessels underway , or wanting to get under way and have the luxury os someone watching them who might be able to give a helping hand should it be needed. These nets are often local as in the one we check into or our little passages between the atolls of the Marshall Islands or vastly organized networks of people around the globe covering huge territories. AN example of this would be the Pacific Seafarers Net which meets daily 365 days a year at 0300 Zulu. We used that net to cross from Mexico to Polynesia. The reassuarance that they are always there, cannot be uderstated. Currently, for example we listen in on an irregular basis to hear where our friend Jeanne Socrates is currently located. Google Jeanne and sv Nereida if you want to read about a female sailor in her mid- seventies circumnavigating, non- stop for the third time. She has a blog as well that may well stimulate some heavy duty night time reading for you.
Well, that being said, getting the “ all is well onboard” out of your mouth on the net does not tell the story of what is going on at any time in terms of life on your boat.The perverbial shit can be hitting the fan but come hell or high water, you check in to let everyone know that really, at the end of it, when the salt water settles, you and your crew are alive and well. Until that is not the case, no one wants to hear your whining and complaining. That’s sailing. Perhaps there is a life comparison here in a broad sense. Perhaps that is why, there is ofen little talk of actual problems that arise and how they are dealt with, both in sailing and in general. Why would we want to (a) open ourselves up to criticism and pehaps feel stupid when we already are self lambasting anyway? Or (b) it worked out fine so I’ll just put that in my own memory bank and pull it out if I ever need it again and it really wasn’t a bg deal”. If you ever get together with sailing folk, the men usually sit in groups and talk boat parts, the women sit and talk whatever, to get their minds off boat parts. Okay, I am generalizing- a lot. Often the boat part converstaions are well worth listening to and after awhile you realize there are many opinions on what the right thing to put on, take off, increase, decrease and what may well be just another person who like to hear themselves talk when they don’t know any more than the next guy. We have all been there at some point in some walk of life. The people lookng for someone stupid enough to listen to their drivel.I know , cuz I have been that person ( talking drivel). This likely fits right in there. I make a joke, no I don’t , now I have you guessing. The psychology of why people act the way they do, what they are looking for in that interaction, from you or from others, well, it makes the world tick. Like a bomb, sometimes it explodes. Sometimes, the pieces can be put back together with a glue but will not likely ever be the same. But then sameness is over rated. Perhaps, when the “bomb” goes off, something better will come of it.
So back to the sailing.WWR: we got underway from Likiep atol about 9:00 am under main sail only. WE followed our track in on, so a reversal, on Open CPN, meaning we did not have to wait for the perfect light to get started. We were expecting ( and received) a North East wind of between 15 and 20 knots right on our tail on our track to Kwajalein Atoll ( RMI). OUr destination was Ebeye, near the US base of Kwajalein. Google that if you want some info on that and its importnace in the strategy of the influence in the Pacific. This atoll is known for its amazing wreck diving in which we plan to partake. Back to the sailing. We figure we would average 4 knots in predicted winds with mainsail only and arrive to go through the pass at a good time the next morning. Our distance was 105 NM. We did not want to go too fast so we decided to continue main alone. All went well. The winds increased and at dusk we put in the first reef on the main to give us more options whould we need them and to slow down a bit as we were averaging 5.6NM/hr.in a 3 hour period. We had few squalls during the night. Oh yeah, about 4:30, I was napping when I heard an unusual sound. Those sounds can wake you out of a dead sleep. A boat is a creaky , groaning almost breathing machine. It has its own noises that you know in the back of your brain. Whn that varies, you wake and are on alert whether you are sleeping or not. I followed the noise aft and I knew it was the auto pilot s soon as I reached the cabin door , which is always open. I went up to give Chuck the news. He was in the back making some adjustments to the dinghy strapping. We always remove the outboard for any passage but on short passages like this one, we super lash the dinghy to the davits instead of putting it on the foredeck. We had changed our lashing lines as we had found a few wearing parts, so Chuck was doing some adjustments. Remember, folks, I am using the “Royal We “here as more often than not, it is hHuck who is doing the innovation, the construction and fabrication of the many, many changes, adjustments etc. Okay, so he is back, there, has heard the noise but then it stops. It stopped because I have turned the auopilot to standby and am hand steering. So, no noise ... He comes back , I tell him, we decde on our watches which will likely be 1 hr.long to begin but then lengthen to 1.5 hours so two of us can be up when it is time to do the 3 hour recording of position ( everything that we say on the radio - so we know where we are if all hell breaks loose and we lose- EVERYTHING). That was a dramatic sentence but that is the purpose and after you have done that for close to 11,000 nm since Sept. 2016, you start to realize it is important if not mundane at times. So, changing on the 1.5 hr.s . I pull the mattress off its platform, and get out the tools Chuck requests and go back to the steering position, he goes back, takes the chain off the autopilot which is hot hot hot. Bolts the autopliot back into its place as that is the safest place for it. He takes over the steering, I get the supper ready ( the frozen spaghetti and meat sauce has almost thawed and it is ready in 5 min. We eat one at a time and then sit around telling ourselves its no big deal, we have done this before ( many times) and cogratulate ourselves that we have the reef in, the autoppilot defined, the supper cooked and eaten, dishes done and it is still 6:30 and therefore not dark. YEAH! We start our hourly shifts which will go to 1.5 at 9:00. We sail along in 17-20 knts. The night passes uneventully, at 4:00 I wake to hear the sail changing and realize we have gybed. At 4:45, it happens again and we are comfortably hove too in rolly seas, the slick that is created by this boat position makes your time one of relative calm. I go back to sleep. I get up and we start looking at weather, the winds have increased and the squalls are happening often. We sit, watch, eat, do the Local Yokwe net at 7:45 , button down the bimini, button up between squalls and decide to put a 2nd reef in the mainsail in case its gets dirty going through the pass. We have decided we will attempt the pass ( motor through but always have the main up in case something happens to your engine). The pass is supposed to be an easy one. WE have our Chart plotter ( it cut out once but came back on and has been behaving), we also have Open CPN on CHuck’s computer. Open CPN is Google Earth with satellite pictures of the atolls. SO cool.
So, we have decided that if we get to the pass and we do not like the look of it, we can abort , go back and hove too again but we will have to sail out a long way as we are on a lee shore ( that means the wind can blow you towards/onto the atoll which is not a position of choice-ever. We get to the pass, commit and the squall which I have estimated to be 1/2 an hour away comes up and hits over 25 knots. We get through following the waypoints, I come back from bow watch into the cockpit. CHuck tells me to take his computer below that has the Open CPN as it is getting wet. He is of course hand steering and can’t leave the cockpit. I do that, dry off the computer , say a silent prayer ( always go to god when feeling vulnerable-this is habit and I don’t know what to call it but that is another topic). Then it is back to the wheel, Chuck goes forward and starts looking for the markers that he has put in on the chart plotter that someone who has been here before us was kind enough to share. In that time, the boat has turned 180 degrees so I have no idea there are actually weigh points on the chart plotter too. Thank goodness for forsight- extra care by Captain CHuck. I have no idea where I am. It gets righted. I steer, Chuck stays forward in the driving rain and I head up towards the first waypoint. We get there and there is a balmie beside it. I am thankful for time of day as it is so overcasat, it would be hard to pick out if the sun was not overhead. Time for travel in atolls is between 10 and 2:00. We try to stick to this safety first precaution , especially in atolls where we have no track that either we or someone else has made. So we are following waypoints, no pre-track BUT sun obverhead in low skies. Then the 30 knots driving squall begins and Chuck comes back to the cockpit momentarily to turn on the Fog Horn- one long blast every 30 seconds ( I believe) to alert anyone else who has to be out in this torrent that we are there. Running and steaming lights are on, reefed 2nd main is centred. We continue, we follow the waypoints and identify each one. This atoll has few balmies because the US navy has swept most of them away- I think by dragging big chains between two boats, but I could be wrong ). We get to the last one, turn in towards the Ebeye town site and look for the recommended anchorage. There is apparently one sailboat that is always on a mooring. There are several empty moorings but, you can’t just take one as they usually belong to someone. We then try seeking a spot. The recommended spot seems too close for the depth of chain we would need for our boat. There is a huge freighter at the dock that we do not want to interfere with- always come out in a loss situation if you tangle with those big boys. We look for a spot in the inclement rainy weather. It is grey, we are having trouble seeing the bottom and defining what is there. We come up to what we think might be a good spot, dropping the anchor and laying out the appropriate chain- RATS- too close to the other boat- up comes the chain and anchor, move on. The windlass gets worked more than we want it to in this situation. It is just not holding. Finally, after twiddling around several more times, it comes to rest, we are happy with the back- up revs to set it and we shut it down- us and the boat. Put the main away (which we dropped on the way in as we turned into the wind on the last leg to Ebeye). Leave most everything the way it was as it is still raining but all is secure. We sit, check one last time on the anchor, put on the snubbing line ( takes the pressure off the windlass when the boat is dragging on the anchor and chain). I heat up the remnants of the spaghetti, we draw a beer and eat the last cookie that the kind acting Mayor’s wife gave us in Likiep ( our last atoll we visited). Chuck lays down and is instantly asleep, I send our GPS position to Gregory and Larissa along with a short email, play Lumosity and then my Ukulele and when I have got myself into my happy place, my lights go out. This little story is not about anything but what we would consider a relatively normal day of sailing so, the term adrenalin junky does not really apply, especially if you are born on the water. But , being a farm girl, it can still make me want to wind down a wee bit before I hit the hay.
So when we chat the passage over, we think we had a good outcome, we did a lot right, dealt with the things that could have been more of an issue quite well and came up with some plans to do some things better. There is ALWAYS room for improvement. We hate doing stupid mistakes more than once. Once a mistake, twice - an idiot. Three times- there’s a pattern emerging. HAHAHA- been there too many times. I guess that may be why I pray when the do-do hits the fan. Forgiveness and moving forward begins by owning up to being an idiot.
For those wondering, we do have a 2nd autopilot that CHuck will install. It is the original on the boat, and it gave up when we were on passage from Mexico. It was used in that situation ( maybe you read that update as well), also broke down but has been reparied. Now we get to try it out. WE will use it with discretion- no big seas or heavy winds where it has to work too hard. We will try it out in the Lagoon of course before we use it on passage.
Ebeye promises to be different than the other atolls( they are all different in their way). We will look for proprane ( we are now on the BBQ tank propane. We have heard there is none here save for the tiny bottles so we may be boat camping), reprovision, try to get access to regular internet and vist the acting mayor, clean up the jib lines , jack lines, this line and that line, drop the dinghy, put on the outboard. Etc etc. Life on the Katie G- NEVER A DULL MOMENT.
Peace - OUT
Sv Katie G