Jumping the Puddle- part 3
29 March 2008 | 11? 26'N, 119? 50'W
Day 9 13? 06N, 115? 44'W Last night was ANOTHER rolly night. We seem to be in the trades now, as we have pretty consistent 15-20 knots of wind, generally from the northeast. Since we can't sail dead down wind we'll opt for a westerly course during the day and jibe for a southerly course during the night.
Day 10 11? 46N, 117? 12'W
We've discovered that the southerly course is more rolly than the westerly. Joy. This is because the swell hits us on our beam, rather than from the stern. Needless to say, sleep was not easy for anyone as the boat rolled gunwale to gunwale.
Also the wind piped up in the middle of the night from around 17 knots to 20+. With our full main and headsail up and the swell slamming into our beam we were a bit like a runaway freight train. We were definitely over-canvassed as the boat kept wanting to round up into the wind and "Otto", our electronic auto-pilot, was unable to hold our course. (We weren't using "Monty" our Monitor windvane self-steering because it seems to have trouble with the big swell when sailing downwind. yes, we call our self-steering gear "Otto and Monty". We are not original, nor are we particularly clever.)
So as I stood watch the boat did a couple "Crazy Ivans" where it would round up and Otto would beep at me, essentially saying "I'm giving up, this one's all you". I'd take the wheel and spill some wind off the main to bring it back down, but the sail was practically on the spreaders already so basically we needed to reef. I didn't need to call John to wake him, he heard me cussing topside and knew he was needed.
The downside of our in-boom roller furling main is that in order to bring it down (ie: put a reef in it) you really need to be pointed into the wind. We've been told by the manufacturer that we should be able to bring the sail down off the wind, but in practice that hasn't really worked for us. You need to reef when you've got strong wind and the strong wind puts tremendous pressure on the sail, and we can't get a decent wrap on the furler unless we've completely taken the pressure off the sail by pointing it into the wind. So that means that in order to put a reef in we also need to first take down the head sail because pointing the boat into the wind with it up would cause it to flog wildly and probably shred itself within minutes. So of course we were thrilled to reef the main at 1:30 in the morning. At least it calmed the boat down.
Day 11 11? 46N, 119? 34'W
We spent most of the day moving west at a pretty good clip. We've been pretty lucky with our wind (I won't even talk about that swell) because it's been consistently in the high teens. Tin Soldier who left a day behind us has been frustrated with winds that are generally less than 15 knots. They have a 50,000 pound boat so they need a bit of "pressure" to get it moving above 5 knots.
I've been a bit disappointed in the passage so far- due to the swell of course. I had envisioned getting so much done: learning French on the computer, baking bread and other treats, keeping the boat clean and the most important: school with the girls. With the boat constantly rocking and pitching it's really all I can do to just manage the basics. The girls would probably be able to handle school at this point (I couldn't) but I don't want to take the chance. We certainly don't want to create some nasty association between school and nausea. Oh well, there's plenty of time to catch up once we get to the islands.
Day 12 10? 38N, 121? 07'W
We've finally figured out that the winds and swell really pick up in the middle of the night. This is contrary to what we're used to so it took us awhile to catch on. Now we know that as pleasant as the conditions may be in the evening (and they have been, the sea state has been at it's calmest the last several evenings) we must reef the main before dark so we don't get stuck with our pants down.
In other news: the "Battle of the Boobies" began in earnest today. A little background: Boobies are a type of sea bird that you find 1,000 miles out to sea. They are either flying around, fishing, or floating in the water- except when they see a sailboat and then they figure, "Hey, why am I beating myself up here when I could just take a break on that nice boat over there?"
The first one to land on our stern arch we indulged, thinking "oh, the poor thing must be tired. Let's let her take a little rest." Ten minutes later she'd invited 3 of her closest friends and our back deck was starting to look like the inside of a bird cage. Yuck. So we started shooing them off, And they take a lot of shooing. They're either dumb or stubborn but after the yelling and waving of arms failed, John got the boat hook out and actually made contact a couple of times. They'd just squawk and come back for more. And it's not just us. Listening to the morning net everyone had issues with these things. Kiel on Shambala took a broom to one when it started crapping on his solar panels and got nipped on the hand for his impertinence
So today John brought out the big gun. Well, really the little slingshot. With popping corn as ammo. So far only mildly successful. Stay tuned.