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Thursday, December 2, 2010

11/23/2010 - Day 2 underway

I was having trouble sleeping during my off-watch because I kept thinking about that broken A/P mount. So, as soon as it was light enough to see, I started in on the repair. All this consisted of was removing the one remaining bolt, knocking out the pieces of the broken bolts, finding three new bolts of the right size and bolting the fixture onto it's mounting plate. On land or on a boat on a calm sea, this would be a maybe 10-minute job. However, under the rough conditions we were experiencing, it took an hour to get it done. Once done, though, we were able to put the A/P back into service and unhand the tiller for the first time in almost 12 hours.

However, turns out it wasn't quite that easy. What ever is? With only the main up, the boat was giving the A/P fits. The wind pressure on the main wanted to constantly push the bow to port and the A/P had to compensate by trying to push it back to starboard. This is what we experienced while hand-steering as well but, since we can push the tiller further than the A/P can, we were able to maintain our course. The A/P could not. And so, since we both needed a break and the batteries needed charging, we made the decision to start the engine for the first time since we left Ensenada yesterday, some 20 hours ago.

Of course, this meant that we needed to douse the main which meant we needed to head up into the wind. Once again, when facing the weather, we found out just how bad the conditions were. However, unlike last night, this time I had to be up forward by the mast pulling the sail down while the bow was alternately reaching for the sky and then slamming down in to the trough. We hit the troughs hard enough occasionally that the force sat me right down on top of the life raft. All this while trying to battle yards and yards of stiff fabric. Oh, by the way Mom, and others, you'll be happy to know that I had my life vest and harness on and was firmly tethered to the boat at all times.

Finally got the main wrestled down and furled and turned back onto our course. Much calmer going downwind. Now, while motoring along with the A/P at the helm, we were both able to get some rest.

By 1345 (N30*09.00' W116*16.87') we'd both had naps and the batteries were charged. Since we still had a decent tailwind. it was time to hoist some sail(s) again. We now knew that going dead downwind with just the main wasn't a good idea if we hoped to use the A/P. And, since we didn't have a downwind pole to hold the jib out away from the boat, we couldn't balance the boat by sailing wing-and-wing. Our best bet seemed to be to follow the advice of some more experienced sailors and just hoist the jib, fall slightly off the wind and let her pull us along like a mule. And that is what we did. At 1400 the engine was off and we were sailing again. And with just the jib, we were exceeding our previous motoring speed. We were tooling along at 5-6 knots. The jib flapped occasionally when the wind got behind it but we adjusted course accordingly.

The sun goes down way too early in the winter. By 1730 (N29*50.45' W116*11.00') it was pretty much dark and we had been doing a steady 6 knots for awhile. Occasionally saw speeds of 7 and 8 knots as well. This seemed a little much for the nighttime when only one person at a time would be on deck, so I rolled up part of the jib. The reduced sail area calmed the ride down a bit but we only lost about 1/2 knot of speed. The bumpy seas caused the jib to spill her wind now and again but mostly she stayed full.

On through the night we sailed. The seas were rough but the sky was beautiful. Lots and lots of stars until the moon came up.

Speaking of stars: Up north I never had any trouble locating the Big Dipper. Down here, we never see it until the wee hours of the morning, it having been hidden under the horizon until then. And, speaking of the moon: Up north, as the moon wanes, the dark side is on the right and gradually moves to the left. Down here, it starts on the top and moves down. Just an observation.

The rest of the night was uneventful although very bouncy. Lulu kept smacking her head into stuff and worrying about all the "bumps" she kept hear throughout the boat. We'd get one thing figured out and secured (or not if it wasn't causing any damage and securing it meant going out on the foredeck) when another would pop up. It was never-ending and bothered Lulu a lot more than it bothered me. I knew she didn't feel too good and wasn't getting a lot of rest so I offered to alter course and put in to Bahia Tortuga to rest up, but, trooper that she is, she declined. Figured that this was all part of the learning experience we were hoping to get by doing a multi-day passage. What a gal!


1 comment:

pj said...

THAT'S for sure, what a gal!