The Fish Net
06 May 2012
I've never blogged before, nor crossed an ocean, so sometimes what to write isn't clear. I realize that my family is home reading this and praying for our safety. So when things haven't been exactly right they have been left out or rosyfied. That was the deal with the fouling of our starboard propeller. I haven't been able to sleep nearly at all for the last two nights worrying about what the hell was on it. This morning after my watch was over and we were all on deck, I resolved to fix it.
Elaina got a scuba diving camera for Christmas that takes video. We rigged that to the boat hook, a pole about 6' long, and used it to see what was down there. It turned out to be a fish net with a small buoy attached. It wasn't coming off on its own, and it had to be removed or it could get caught in our rudder, which is directly behind the propeller. Once the problem was identified, how to fix it became the issue. Skinny stated flatly that no one was going in the water. We agreed, the waves are too rough still and the boat won't stay in one place.
I took the camera off the boat hook and wire tied a rigging knife to the end of it. Rigging knives have serrated blades that basically slice through anything. Stosh grabbed a section of the net with the fish gaff and I started to saw away at it as Dave held the boat steady into the wind and waves. After about 15 minutes of attacking the net it came free. We then used the camera again to verify we hadn't missed any parts of it. Then we ran the motor and checked the drive. Perfect. To celebrate we had our first full beer of the trip. Stosh and I had split one when we caught the Mahi.
Pretty much every day so far has presented some challenge for us. I'll hold off on listing them until we reach the Azores but can say that our crew works so well together to resolve them it's kind of crazy. We have had a boat motto since the first day at sea. It's "Ever Vigilant". Along those lines, we do bilge checks at every watch change, rigging checks each day, and discuss any concerns between the three of us. We have found that we (I) are (am) more comfortable sailing less aggressively. The difference in arriving one day early or not at all seems to be an easy decision to make. We have other sayings we use also. Stosh's is "Plan the hunt and hunt the plan". Skinny's is the "Six P's" - "Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance". Mine is "Keep the water on the outside, the sailors on the inside, and the stick in the air".
Today marks our seventh day of the passage and at exactly noon we crossed the halfway point. When we started from St. Maarten the distance to Horta was 2,195 nautical miles and it is 1096 right now. We have traveled further as you don't take the direct route, but we are happy with the progress. Our next day looks very nice. Were under full sail doing 6.5 knots on a heading of 70 degree's magnetic. Two days from now will bring slightly more challenging weather as two days of 30 knot winds are predicted. This isn't horrible and we are not too concerned, especially now that the propeller is cleared. We are applying Skinny's motto this afternoon and moving the diesel jerry can's off the rails and into the cockpit, doing laundry, making bread, water, and I'm going to get some sleep.