Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Your Questions Answered

In finishing up our passage from the Galapagos Islands to French Polynesia I asked my family if they had any questions for us. They came up with some great ones. My answers are in blue, and Bob's are in green. I hope you enjoy the answers, and please feel free to ask any of your own queries in the comments.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Sighting land at dawn.

About 3:00 am. Morning of day 20, graveyard watch as usual. Sarah mentioned seeing skimming birds feeding at dusk last night when we were just under 100 nm. from land. Birds are always our last send off and first greeters on passage. Also, as is usual since leaving Panama, a red footed booby has chosen our bow rail to rest for the night. We marvel at the flexibility and unwavering tenacity their webbed feet display in gripping slimy, salted 1” stainless steel pipe bouncing about for hour upon hour.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Land Ho!

After 20 days at sea,
over 3000 nautical miles,
5 trips by Bob into the back lazerette to fix the autopilot
One broken halyard
One Code Zero sail retrieved from the water
3 days of on and off hand steering
A Refrigerator and freezer with decidedly more room and less food than 20 days ago
Several rounds of picking up things that were not properly secured,
Numerous bumps and bruises, also known as boat bites, as the boat lurches one way and then the other, reacting to the wind and the waves,
and one entire box of Chocolopagos chocolate turtles
land has been spotted!

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

It always breaks at 5 AM

Four nights ago, while on the 2 to 7 am. watch, I heard a new, but faint, clicking sound I couldn't place. Over the next hour went from intermittent to occasional, and then it increased in repetitions and volume until I finally tracked it down as something connected to the steering. After a preliminary investigation by flashlight I found a wiggle in the bolt that connects the autopilot arm to the steering quadrant that was causing one to rub on the other...but only when a larger wave from the aft port quarter shoved our stern strongly to starboard. So waking Sarah from her favorite deep sleep session, (not happy, but ready to help), we emptied the aft port lazerette. This storage area is 5' deep and holds all our extra diesel and gas jerry cans so we don't have to store them on deck. We have knotted lines tied to the handles to help raise and lower the heavy cans when full as they are now, but in the dip and roll of 2 meter seas it can still be a challenge to empty the area safely. Finally, after collecting necessary tools, shims, and spacers, I got decent lighting set up and climbed down into the aft bowels of our boat, and stuffed myself into a seriously contorted position to access the quadrant. With Sarah hand steering and the autopilot off, I finagled a way to manipulate wrenches top and bottom, removed the nearly immovable nuts, and got the bolt released. After adding an additional spacer for just enough clearance, I had to time the reassembly with Sarah's turning us into the wind far enough so as to slip things back together as we fell off the wind, but quickly. I was truly relieved when all was tightened back down, the autopilot engaged, and no more rubbing cast steel on soft aluminum. But the final relief was getting my brittle old self out of that hole. After cleanup and repacking the lazarette, Sarah went back to bed, and I went looking for an ice pack. Just another chapter in the continuing saga of fixing your boat in the dark in exotic places.

Footnote: I've been down in that hole twice more since first writing this. Once to replace the same bolt broke in half, and once to retighten the nuts I had already installed as tight as I possibly can. Both times very near 5:00 am. I need more suitable hardware.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Morning Light

5 AM, somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the sky is changing.

Bob usually has the 2 am. to dawn shift, so I don't observe the sun coming up very often. Every once in a while we change shifts for a variety of reasons: one person is more tired from lack of sleep on their last time off, or feeling less than up to par, or perhaps the other person just does not feel sleepy at the appropriate time. Tonight was one of those nights, and I took the second shift.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Communication at Sea

Being in the middle of the world's largest ocean makes communication both difficult and necessary. In the days of yore sailors could go months without any news from the outside world. Now in our world of modern connectivity there is the expectation of instant communication, even 1000's of miles at sea. We now use a variation of a satellite phone called the Iridium Go. The Iridium Go is a small, digital, black box attached to an external antenna and we communicate with it through our tablets. It is through this setup that we get regular weather updates (very important) and communicate with the world.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Code Zero Saga

Hearing a loud sound on a sailboat is rarely a good thing, and this time was no exception. The winds have been inconsistent, and causing the sails to "flog" or whip back and forth against themselves making a loud "thwapping" noise (particularly annoying during a night watch). The sound we heard was louder than the normal thwap. Bob looked up and our large Code Zero sail was no longer flying proud. Had it gone overboard? Was it wrapped around anything? Had it broken free? It didn't take long to see it trailing alongside Rhapsody, fully in the water.