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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Two Bad Days ...

.. in a row.

It all started off yesterday morning. We'd been in the doldrums for three days and things were starting to look up a little. Friday night we had a wonderful breeze from the South. Not the greatest direction for us, but it worked well as it allowed us to sail just a little South of East, in order to keep that all important Easting.

Saturday morning dawned with a new wind from the South East, Ahh the trades at last! But what's this? First the wind is from the South South East (too far South for us to actually sail directly South) and it was building (too strong for the light weight jib we put up for the doldrums). I decided to wait a while and see what would happen, and what happened was that by noon it was way too windy for that big sail. We had to change.

Now, taking down a sail and putting up a new one is a lot of work to begin with. But couple it with a 20 knot winds and it gets pretty hard. It took both Linda and I to lower the big jib, fold it and get it into its bag. Then it was time to raise the working jib. I carried it out on deck, got it all ready to hoist and asked Linda to pull the halyard a little (the rope that raises the sail). I guess I didn't have the snap shackle on securely because the next thing I knew the halyard was blowing around in the wind half way up the mast! My first thought was that I was going to have to climb the mast to retrieve the halyard, but then I remembered a trick we'd used while at the dock to retrieve a halyard. I had Linda get out my fishing tackle box and give me a large treble hook. I attached this onto a small line, and then tied the small line onto one of our spinnaker halyards. Linda pulled the spinnaker halyard up while I held the small line tight and when it got close to the wayward jib halyard I pulled it back down. Fish On! The hook grabbed the jib halyard and I pulled it back down to the deck.

That little interlude over we put our minds back to hoisting the working jib which we did without further incident. The only thing was, we were both just about exhausted. We got the boat sailing and tried to relax. However, there were a couple other minor activities throughout the afternoon that kept us from recovering completely; tacking onto starboard tack for a few hours only to determine that being on port tack is better so we tacked back. That may not sound like a lot but when you're already exhausted it's a whole lot of work.

Then, just when I thought we were safe, Linda woke me up at 0430 this morning (I had just gone to bed at 0400) to tell me that nothing was happening when she turned the wheel. When I tried turning it myself the sound of the drive chain dropping into the lazarette confirmed that the steering cable had broken. 'No problem', I said. We are prepared for this failure. I got out the 50 ft piece of 1/4" high tech rope (low stretch and stronger then stainless steel) that I got just in case this happened. We took out the old broken cable, measured it, made a replacement using the high tech rope and installed it. We now have wheel steering again (the boat sailed the entire time on the autopilot which attaches directly to the rudder). But, it took almost five hours after a day/night in which I only got about an hour's sleep.

On the bright side, the wind is lighter today and we're making good speed if not good progress (we're 30 degrees below our destination in the Marquesas, so it looks like there's more upwind sailing in our future).

If anyone has a spare wish, you could send us an East wind. It would be much appreciated.

John and Linda