JIB AND JIGGER, JIB AND JIGGER NOW WE KNOW YOU
26 April 2010 | Underway from Mexico to Marquesas
Day 10 ANZAC DAY
We have passed the point of one thousand nautical miles from our start point in Bahia de Banderras, Mexico. That means that on a passage of a touch under three thousand miles, we have a third of it behind us. Remember though the two thousand miles that are ahead include the doldrums, a belt of light and variable winds that lie between the two biggest wind systems on the planet, the Pacific Northeast Trades and the Pacific Southeast Trades. This band of thunderstorms, rain and calms barred the way for the early sailing ships, before the time of engines, and still is a problem for us "Pacific Puddle Jumpers" - the scatter of boats heading for the Marquesas - because we can't carry large amounts of diesel fuel.
Using fuel - on days 2,3,4 and 5 - to get out to the wind which we now gratefully have, and keeping some in hand for landfall and for helping others out in an emergency, leaves us a calculated amount for crossing the Intertropical Convergence Zone, or ITCZ, as the doldrums are now known. The ITCZ can be 240 miles wide or more, sometimes twice that. To cross it you go due South. Our friend Sea Flyer received a gift of fuel in the middle of the night from a Cuban tanker - "I tried to tie alongside the ship, it was dark and the ship was painted black! Couldn't see it!" Said Gary. "The captain ended up dumping 12 jerrycans in the sea, with a light attached. He wouldn't leave until I had it onboard" - is cautiously motoring in the ITCZ right now at 3 or 4 knots. He will need to sail part of the 1,000 miles he has to go to Hiva Oa, and sail it with a jury rig.
Today we tried out a new sail combination - genoa and mizzen, or "jib and jigger" as sailors call it. I was hoping it would save us from the slow speed and painful rolling we have had since we took the wind on the quarter, changing course yesterday for the waypoint 6 degrees North, 130 degrees West (where the boat turns left to cross the ITCZ). Also we had torn the mainsail and the genoa wouldn't stay full, the waves rolling us - often violently - knocking the wind out of the sail. Sail cracked like a whip. Really hard on the sail and on us, hanging on! The spare mainsail needs a little work before raising it (it's on the dining table) so we raised the mizzen and - WOW! The difference was obvious - we were going faster and, as I tuned the angle to the wind and waves, the boat got in the groove! The motion changed from heavy rolling to riding on rails! It took a while to adjust the wind- vane self-steering to get it to hold a course. But, jib and jigger -I love you!
Last night Adrienne could not cook dinner, it was too dangerous to put pots and pans on a rolling stove. Oh yes! Last night too while she was on watch a flying fish came right down the hatch behind her as she typed emails at the chart table! Got him back in the water before he knew what was happening.
PS It being Anzac day, as I was reminded by fellow Aussie on the yacht Piewacket, I pulled out my battered horn, the top bit of an old cornet, tightened the mouthpiece, and played the Last Post. Badly. Lest we forget - to have a beer. Mate!