Day 11 to the Marquisas
18 June 2008 | South Pacific
As expected day 10 ended at noon today and turned in only 150 miles, and we had to burn dinosaurs to make that. Shortly after sunset the weather went bad and we had squalls coming in from all quarters. Most missed us but we took glancing blows from three or four and at least two direct hits. They we not severe and had no more than 25 to 30 knots of wind in them at the edge and then gradually faded back to the obligatory light and variable. Hideko was very happy to have her new cockpit enclosure up.
We motored all night with the main, then the main and jib and then finally in the morning the wind became consistent enough to sail so we killed the Yanmar. After an hour or two working out way west on starboard tack with a little north in the heading the wind quit. We started up the diesel again and motor sailed for a bit, then put away the flogging jib, and finally dropped the flogging main it got so bad.
Normally we would leave the main up and just sheet it in tight to keep it from beating around too much. Unfortunately our rig check today (we do one every day with binoculars) turned up a problem. Our top two battens are broken on the main. At first it was hard to figure because these battens are above all of the shrouds and we've been very careful this trip to ensure the main stays off the shrouds. This hurts our performance of course because we're trying to sail a deep broad reach most of the time.
Of course the battens were broken when the first reef was in. We dropped the main and checked the alignment on the way down and it was a match. I think they may have been mostly broken some time ago and just finally came unhinged. Perhaps the 50 knot bit coming into Bonaire or the all day thrashing on the way to Baraquilla. The top batten is barely noticeable but if you look close when the sail is limp (plenty of opportunity for that today) you can tell it has a break. The second batten down is also hard to see a problem with when the wind is up but there is a tear in the batten pocket forming on the break which you can see and it flogs more noticeably than the top batten in flaky wind. Although something we will fix at first opportunity neither are immediate concerns. We will just be very careful about securing the main when there is not enough wind to keep it set.
This mornings net has had us rethinking our landfall plans. We have friends, Pablo and Louise, coming in to French Polynesia (with our new prop!) the 3rd of July. We need to be somewhere that they can fly to from Papeete and that means Nuku Hiva or Hiva Oa. Fatu Hiva is the closest landfall and a beautiful place from what we hear. Many cruisers have been targeting the Bay of Virgins as their first landfall. We were as well. However we are getting reports on the morning SSB nets that boats there are getting fined if they are not check in. In the past boats would arrive at Fatu Hiva, stay a couple days and then head to Hiva Oa to check in. This is because Fatu Hiva is closest to the Galapagos and also to windward (thus hard to sail back to once passed).
Well it seems the authorities are no longer welcoming this minor bending of the rules. Thus we have decided to revise our track to Nuku Hiva. Nuku Hiva is a beautiful island from all accounts, a check in destination, and complete with a few restaurants and shops as well as an airport. Our current thinking is that we will anchor here and await our friend and new prop. This does add 60 nautical miles or so to the journey (not to mention the poor tracking we've been keeping with the east wind).
While running the motor all day is noisy it does have some advantages. First you have all the power you need. Use computers, watch movies, heat up with the microwave, make espresso, whatever. Second if you are running the motor the seas are flat, nice for a break from the big days in week one. Perhaps best of all, critters come to see what the noise is about. For the first time since the Galapagos we had a big pack of Pacific White Sided dolphins come and play on the bow for an hour or two at sunset. We never get tired of laying on the trampoline watching the dolphins play.
Nobu says: "After our rig check today I realize how important it is to stay in touch with the boat"
Hideko says: "I saw the most amazing shooting stars last night, they were so big and brilliant crashing into the atmosphere they looked like fireworks"
923 nm to go... (less than 1,000, even with the new waypoints!!)