A big tidy up and food is back on the menu.
Fully sailing again here! Not only is sailing more fun, less stressful, quieter, rewarding, fulfilling, and better for the boat in so many different ways, it’s also normally much faster, therefore generally better in every way than motoring or motor-sailing. This is why we love sailing.
The start of this trip saw a lot of motoring through the dead calms found up the South American coastline. More recently we have been using the engine at times to improve our angle when trying to make progress against the headwinds that have dogged us the entire way as well. Yesterday afternoon was the first time that it was significantly faster and better progress to sail.
Once the wind and sea state had started to settle down we decided to swap out the storm staysail for our bigger and less orange version. With that bit of the foredeck back to business as usual, we shook out reef 3 and went to what is now our full main, i.e. Reef 2. There was some talk of just hoisting whole main really fast and filming as it exploded with the damaged area fully unveiled to the elements. I obviously vetoed this, and made the point that moments like this were why I was in charge. It’s a bit broken, certainly, but still has lots of usable life left it in after some relatively simple repairs. As we’ll no doubt be the ones repairing it at some point, there’s no point making life harder down the line!
New and reduced full main up, we took the opportunity of a slightly calmer boat and dragged the unbagged Yankee 2 up to be sorted and properly stowed. Unfortunately this too has suffered a small tear, but it’s nothing a little patch won’t sort out. Just not a patch we currently have in our possession. With that now also out of action, up went the Yankee 3, and we were soon sweeping along at a consistent 7kts. Finally.
The boat needed a lot of sorting out after the few days of heavier action. The sail locker was once again upside down, with the ladders that restrain the stacks of sails on either side having sheared their steel bolts in the slamming action we’ve been doing, folded in, and stopped restraining those sails. This took a while to remedy and reorder. In the meantime, the bilges were pumped, as we’d been struggling to keep up with the amount of water coming through the deck so short-handed. It’s incredible on a steel boat with so many structural stringers and supports where water can get to. And even more important in a steel boat to make sure we do indeed get it all out again!
Despite marked improvements in life aboard, it is with a heavy heart that I report on the passing of Ben Lecricket. While officially unconfirmed, it is not believed that Ben made it through the weather of the last few days. We’ve been listening out in vain, even going so far as to get the stethoscope out of the med kit to try and locate him, but even for the worlds most intrepid and experience Panamanian offshore sailing cricket, sometimes the ocean is too much. Lacking a miracle, we have come to terms with the fact the deck is a quieter place at night now, and to be fair, he did bloody well to make it this far living in the LPG locker of a sailing yacht.
By far the biggest result of yesterday was getting the LPG up and running again, and having the best and biggest bowl of pesto pasta ever as celebration. We hadn’t really eaten anything for a couple of days, with none of us yet reaching a level of hunger where eating beans cold out of the tin was a worthwhile option. The exact cause of the gas alarms going off previously is still a mystery. We methodically went through the system, testing each section, and can find no leak, and no alarms went off when used. Possibly an intermittent problem (the worst sort to try and identify) or a fault in the alarm system brought on by heavier weather. For now unexplained, but it’s not something you can take chances with, and we won’t get caught out falsely assuming it’s a fault in the alarm system, as blowing the boat up would be far from ideal, and definitely a longer term problem than ripping the main in half, so our hot food victory could still be short lived. We will eat up while we hav
e the chance.
Pending any new weather information I receive from WRI when uploading this, we are now making best course and speed directly to San Diego. For those that have been following us, even zero knowledge of sailing beforehand, you will no doubt have realised by now that nothing is ‘direct’ or to plan where sailing is involved. It is rather a well-prepared but rarely to plan rollercoaster ride of changes, prioritisation, improvisation, and taking it all as it comes. That said, we’re all very much hoping these last 300nm go to plan, as it would be very nice to have arrived in San Diego in time for all that is waiting for us there. For several of us we literally haven’t spent a night off the boat since December, so a few nights ashore will no doubt do the world of good.
Life to live and a project to prepare for. The sun is out, the coffee is on, the wind is up, and we keep on pushing.
Date: 25th March 2017
Position: 27-27.4N 117-50.8W
Swell: Mod/rough NW 6-8ft
With the support of our partner Weather Routing Inc.