Monday, November 24, 2008

Time at sea

We have made very good speed, doing well over 2 degrees of latitude each
day. The wind has been very favorable staying behind the beam but pretty
strong. Speeds climb up to 11 kts on the faces of waves, then drop back to 6
or less as we climb the back of the next wave.

Nights are long, very long. Not so bad for me, but for the crew. Having 5
people, I have taken myself out of the rotation completely, and I am on call
all the time. I do most of the cooking, but I have to say, the others are
big contributors to that effort as well. The crew has really made this
passage easy for me.

The one problem that we have had to overcome is the hot water heater
failure. It started leaking before we left, and was a threat to the trip. We
decided that we did not need any more hot water than we could heat on the
stove. In order to prevent the leak from threatening our water supply, we
did some creative re-plumbing, and set off.

The other challenge/failure was the loss of one of the hatches. We had a
situation where we were having repeated accidental jibes in light to
moderate wind because of sea state, and the main sheet traveler got wrapped
around the hatch over the head. The next jibe resulted in the removal of the
hatch. Oops. We patched it with duct tape (no kidding) and went on, as there
was no strong weather in the forecast. We had plywood and screws for a
better repair, but I did not see the need given the relatively benign

Benign, or not, with each sunset, a certain anxiety sets in with the crew.
The wind tends to pick up a bit and the waves come at you with no warning.
The nights are very noisy and since you don't get much uninterrupted sleep,
they seem very long. If you are one of those good sleepers, you close your
eyes, and an instant later, you open them and it is morning. Our nights are
close to 12 hours long.

Right after we contact Herb, we do a deck inspection. It involves looking
critically at all of the standing rigging for loose cotter pins, clevis
pins, swages getting ready to fail, lashings coming loose, etc. (We run
tight ship!). Last night that opaid off in a big way. The pin that holds the
boom to the mast was properly fastened, but the hard stainless steel cotter
pin was beginning to chew its way through the soft aluminum of the
gooseneck. Left unattended, this could result in a failed joint, and who
knows what else (torn mainsail?). We dug through the used parts box and
found a 1/2 inch bolt that has replaced the pin.

The amount of noise you hear in the boat is amazing, and yet at the same
time, the shelter it provides form the elements is amazing too. You can come
above to find the wind howling and the boat sluicing through the water with
little indication below. But coffee makers, pots, pans, silverware, fishing
gear etc are all rattling about in their lockers; wires are slapping in the
mast, the engine might be droning. It is a lot of noise.