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Saturday, December 4, 2010

11/25/2010 - Day 4 Underway

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, although, by the time this gets posted, Thanksgiving will have been long over. This would have to go down in the books as the most unusual Thanksgiving we've ever had so far.

It's mostly cloudy at 0800 (N27*05.23' W144*44.75') and the air temperature is 62 degrees. The seas are still choppy but maybe a little less so? Or maybe we're just getting used to it. We're still sailing nearly dead downwind on a partially furled jib.

When I came on watch this morning I heard an unfamiliar clunking sound. I tracked it to the A/P. Every time the pilot tried to push or pull the tiller, the body of the A/P would first slide one way or the other on the rod that attaches it to it's mount. That didn't seem like a good thing. Seemed like a good way to wear something out. Not sure what was up, and not wanting to take the A/P out of service long enough to find out, I rigged a tourniquet of sorts. I ran a strap around the pin and over the inboard shoulder of the A/P and then cinched it tight. This kept the pin hard against the stop and stopped the clunking.

(NOTE: since then I've had opportunity to investigate further. The pin is hinged and sits in a slot on the underside of the autopilot. This allows it to work even if the A/P isn't sitting perfectly level to the tiller:

Turns out that the tiny little hinge pin broke, allowing the pin to slide back and forth in its oval slot.

My tourniquet had just forced the pin up against the forward end of the slot. Works fine when the tiller is mounted. I'll make a real repair when we get to La Paz. And, in the meantime, we still have our spare.)

Lulu's trying something new on the mal de mer front. After her initial dose of Bonine on day 1, she hasn't taken anymore. She's wearing the Quease-Away wrist bands (acupressure) and that's it. She says she's doing at least as well as with the Bonine. I can attest to the fact that she spends a lot more time down below than I want to but doesn't seem any the worse for wear because of it. She's not all chipper but she's doing fine. I'm not so brave. My first scopolamine patch should have run out of juice this morning. I haven't applied another but I have it in my pocket just in case.

Noon (N26*52.60' W114*28.15'): The water is very blue and the sky is mostly blue, just a few clouds. Air temp is 64 degrees.

It's amazing how much physical effort it takes to ride along on a little boat in the big ocean. One is constantly shifting weight, bracing, balancing. Muscles are flexing and relaxing all the time. Both of us have complained of sore this or that. We finally decided it's mostly due to this constant flexing. It's also hard to believe just how strong the motion of the boat is. You simply cannot fight it. You have to learn to go along. When either of us comes topside to assume the watch, almost invariably we end up being plunked down on the seat whether we wanted to or not. The boat simply puts you where it wants you and you go along either willingly or not.

By 1500 (N26*44.35' W114*16.22') the seas had started to calm down a little. Lulu decided that we needed something for our Thanksgiving "dinner" so she whipped up some crackers, three kinds of Mexican cheeses, smoked marlin and a couple of beers to snack on in the cockpit.

In honor of the holiday, she served this up on our best china. The reason her hand is on the beers is to keep them from rolling away which they would surely do as soon as she lets go.

So, Happy Thanksgiving to you all from Lulu:

And from me:

By 1600 the wind had dropped but was still useable for sailing. The seas were much calmer and the sky was mostly clear. However, by 1700, the wind had dropped way off. The jib was slatting back and forth, boat speed was down to 2 or 3 knots and the A/P was having a tough time keeping us on course. If this was a trans-oceanic passage, we'd just have to sit it out. But it's not and so, after 51 hours of continuous sailing, we grudgingly doused the jib and fired up the engine.

However, by 1740 I changed my mind. We were motoring forward at 4-5 knots but our Mexican courtesy flag was still showing we had a decent tailwind. So, unfurled the jib again and secured the engine. Continued on at about 4 knots and a much smoother ride. Guess I should have been more patient.

Long about the time the moon came up at 2051 (N26*29.53 W113*59.08), things started to get a bit interesting. The wind was piping up so I rolled up part of the jib. As the wind piped up, so did the seas. We had a very rough and wet ride the rest of the night. We took lots of water over the sides. Even had the occasional splash up over the solar panels (behind me in the picture above). One of these went over the panel on the port side of the cockpit and landed right in my lap on the starboard side. We didn't have fun that night. But, almost exactly at dawn, the wind and the seas both just dropped. It was like they were playing with us all night but, come the light of day, they didn't want to be caught at it. Whatever the cause, I'm glad the conditions didn't continue.

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