Sunday, June 30, 2013

News From the Crew

I finally talked to Alex yesterday on the Satellite phone and he sounded good, but tired. I had planned on nagging him about not communicating more and  more often, but he has been so busy keeping up with everything on the boat while not sleeping that I didn't have the heart. 

They have had quite a few minor repairs to do, and the computer onboard is not working, so when not sleeping or sailing, Alex and crew have been working on repairs and keeping everything on board ship shape. 

Cheryl forwarded me an e-mail from Alan that describes very well the pace of things on Nani for the past few days, I've copied it here:

We are keeping 3 hour watches but they rotate each day by the fact that there are 8 watches per day and only 3 crew.  Last night my watch was 1500-1800, 0000-0300 and 0900-1200.  I was on my midnight watch.  David was asleep in the v-berth, Alex had just turned in in the quarter berth and talking in the cabin might disturb sleep - something more precious than a good meal. We rotate bunks depending on the watch. David started the night in the v-berth and me in the quarter.  When my watch started, Alex retired to the quarter bearth.  When I woke David up for his watch, I turned in for more sleep in the v-berth.  Works well enough but since my gear is in a locker in the quarter cabin and Alex's is in the v-berth, you have to plan ahead for what you will need overnight.  We keep our foul weather gear in a large hanging locker and harnesses by the companionway.  Most nights I wear the bottoms and a windbreaker - sometimes a warm shirt underneath. For a while I was wearing a watch cap and gloves but it's getting a little warmer. We usually get a heavy dew at night and everything is damp.  We don't leave the cockpit without being clipped on and usually require someone else to be alert for a splash.

Waves moderated somewhat yesterday and we had a great night and early morning of sailing.  I came on watch at 0000 gmt and was greeted by a sky full of stars and a wake full of bioluminescence.  the moon rose at about 0200 and was straight off the bow making easy steering.  we are hand steering a lot rather than use the autopilot to save battery power.  we are trying to log as many miles as we can - the wind is forecast to drop tonight and we will motorsail if possible.  We are still over 600 miles out and don't have fuel to motor the rest of the way.  I will be scanning the weather charts to see if we are going to get a break but we are sailing into the famed Azores High.

Meals have been going well. For the most part we've been alternating dinner prep and bfst and lunch are catch as catch can.  Alex fixed boiled potatoes with frozen veg mixes in last night, in did the chicken curry the night before.  I prepared the sauce, then divided it, sautéed the chicken and added it to one pot while adding Tuna to David's (as he requested.  (Curried tuna doesn't sound good but he said it was gorgeous - a common expression of his.  I used Uncle Ben's rice to save having to cook rice on the stove top in a pitching sea that made standing a challenge.  I had opened the hatch above the galley for some needed breeze but a wave ended that.  I don't think the curry was too salty as a result.

Our course as you can probably see on the tracker is up and down.  We debate sailing the Great Circle route because it is the shortest vs sailing north or south of the line in hopes of better wind and waves.  Being able to download the weather files to my ipad has been great.  While we can't really alter our position much more than 50 miles or so north or south, it does help us plan where we should be and what to expect.  Traditionally, the wind should be out of the west and we should be broad reaching or running. Once the wind filled in, it has been south or southwest we have been on stbd tack the entire time and either beating or close reaching.  As a result we are living on a heal that obviously varies with wind speed.  There is no way to flatten the boat other than reef.  There is no traveller.  Add in big waves from the beam or forward or aft quarter and you can get some lively motion. In general Nani has great manners, the deck stays relatively dry, pounds rarely, and tracks pretty well unless the seas are quartering and then it's a lively time on the helm.

We have been hand steering a good bit - the auto pilot works well and we use it during meals or when you've got to leave the helm.  It uses a lot of power and combined with the power demands of the refrig, instruments, and radar, we slowly empty the batteries even though they are huge compared to Paragon's.  We are using the tow generator - it can produce 5 amps when we are sailing fast - that's not enough to keep up with the fridge but it slows the "bleed" of power.  It has been a source of some activity - first installing and wiring it while under way, then, when Alex decided it might not be working, and unplugged it to test while it was running - a bad thing, we had to retrieve it (requires either stopping the boat or putting a funnel on to the tow line to block water to the propeller.  The next day we spent time testing and diagnosing the problem.  Another day, we tried using the Honda generator to add power to the batteries - it was noisy, smelly and didn't do much.  When we went to put it away, the plug to the tow generator came loose and overheated - melting the plug and wires - next day - rewire.

There is always a lot to work on.  Yesterday we replaced three slides on the mainsail that had chafed or broken in the pounding seas.  This involved lowering the sail and stitching new slugs on using webbing while sitting on the foredeck in still rough seas.  David kept the boat motoring into the seas and wind to try to lessen the motion.  That was followed by the tow generator rewire.  Alex re did it three times to get it right - all made more difficult by cramped work space and incessant rollling.

As a crew, things are good -we work together well, generally laugh, and have a good time.  We'll see what happens when the beer runs out, though it is rumored that there is a missing case of PBR somewhere in the boat. Nani has tons of storage, we have food and stuff spread out everywhere - sometimes trying to remember where we stored things is the biggest challenge,

I haven't been as studious as I expected.  I have not felt like reading or writing.  I have not taken the sextant out either though I plan to once we start motoring tomorrow - hopefully it will be clear enough for some sights. Part of it is the motion of the boat.  The Stugeron made me a little fuzzy but I haven't taken any in awhile.- we think we are over sea sickness - the fact that I've been typing this email for an hour in the cabin is good testament.  It could also be sleep deprivation.  While we sleep a good bit, our schedules are always changing and the weather, motion, and effort it takes to do something takes a toll.

All in all a good trip.  Lots of time to sit and think, talk, and mostly sit.

and from David via Tricia:

We are into some calmer weather now and the large seas have dissipated. It is not much fun sleeping on the ceiling occasionally. In the V berth I was getting bounced but as you can imagine I still slept well. I am on a good watch pattern today, I am on from 9:00pm to midnight and then can sleep until 6:00am. Last night I was on the 3:00am to 6:00am. We only have 700 miles to got to Horta so we maybe there by the 4th. That would be good.

We had some repairs to do to the mainsail yesterday and the towing generator but otherwise we are all holding up. We ate some of the emergency food during the rough weather and it was not too bad. I may make tuna pasta tonight.

I must get back to the wheel now as we have to hand steer or the autopilot takes to much power and the fridge will not work.

Meanwhile back at the cottage, the rain has cleared out and Eric made a new acquaintance named Manual. You may have met Manual before, his last name is Labor.*
*I'd like to thank my Uncle Ray for a lifetime of bad (I mean good) jokes such as that one.

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