April 20, 2011

Sail to the South Pacific-Day 11: The Family Edition

Well--it looks liked we punched through the ITCZ last night and this morning we're scooting along under a clear sky in the SE trades. The world looks like it's been through a good rain--which it has--and the humidity hasn't built yet so the morning feels fresh and clean.

Yesterday we had two reminders about how vulnerable we are out here. We had a line the holds our lazy jacks and stack pack up break at spreader level (this is the cover that holds our mainsail when we reef it). We were between squalls and it seemed calm enough at deck level so Ev decided to get it fixed and I hoisted him up the mast. Calm at deck level looks very different when you are 35' aloft, and as he tried to tie the broken line back to the assembly he began a free-swing--crashing him against the mast. We got him down with no more than a few bruises (& he managed the repair) but shortly later we heard from Blue Moon that Rob had been badly stung by a Portuguese Man of War jelly fish and had a severe reaction that they had difficulty getting under control. Rob too ended up fine. But these are the moments that can go any which way--and that remind us of the risks we take.

I was thinking you might be getting a bit sick of only hearing from me--so I asked both Maia and Evan to write something to celebrate our halfway day. So here you go:

Hi everybody! Maia here. We're half way there! Whoo hoo! I'm dancing with joy! We're half way across the biggest ocean known to mankind! THE SOUTH PACIFIC! Poseidon favors us. Not a sea monster in sight. Oh darn it all, a sea monster just poked it's big, ugly, head up. All right, all right, settle down, false alarm. I thought I'd take this as a opportunity to tell parents . . . IF YOU'RE DOING THIS, BUY GIFTS FOR YOUR CHILDREN! Buy 1 for your half way mark, 1 for equator and 1 for . . . LANDFALL IN PARADISE! I know, I know, I'm rather excited but . . . WE'RE CROSSING AN OCEAN PEOPLE IT'S A BIG DEAL! I know some of you have had questions about day to day life soooooo . . . . . HERE'S YOUR ANSWERS SO BE QUIET AND DON'T COMPLAIN! Here are some of my daily activities:

Taking a shower, discovering that the water's cold and then screaming.
Dreaming up new plots to get out of school work.
Trying to convince my dad to eat Play Do.
Dancing in the rain.
Now dear reader I think my dear mother is going to take over this blog post so . . . . . so long for now!

Hmm, go for a nap and this is what I wake to... You should see what we get when she gets a math assignment...

Maia's other activities include collecting up the morning's crop of suicidal flying fish and squid (she's returned 49 fish and 7 squid to the deep...)
Chatting on the kid's net first thing in the am...
Helping with chores and cooking—food is a highlight of our days.
Learning French by podcast with her parents
Listening to podcasts (Radiolab, Quirks and Quarks, The Vinyl Cafe and TED talks make for good family discussions)
Doing art

Evan here. Finally I get a chance to write. Here's my list of what broke so far:

- the "dripless" shaft seal leaked water in first 2 days seas. Maybe it needs to be re-broken in after our engine re-alignment. Hasn't leaked for days now however

- autopilot drive unit plastic end cap broke. Vince do you know anything about these? We have 2 spares from other pilots so don't need to fix just yet

- the U-bolt that secures the outboard motor lifting tackle fractured. Fixed with a Spectra lashing to nearby traveler track

- roller furler lower socket head cap screws nearly backed themselves out, even though riggers in SF had taped over them. Got to them in time so no drama.

- the extra long 1/4" bolt that secures the rudder head to the boat sheared off. Replaced with a spare I had just bought in PV :) I'll put in bigger bolts when we are not moving

- there was water in the engine crankcase. Probably from the exhaust system during our first 2 days of rough sailing. Changed the engine oil a few times and I hope no damage. I will have to fit an exhaust system shut off valve in F.Polynesia

- the rudder 'anti-clunk' fiberglass bracket popped off on one side. Other side had recently failed too but was re-glued in La Cruz. Again, it can wait for calm conditions to re-glue it on.

How about some lessons learned?
check weatherfax and saildocs forecasts beforehand when you have a fast internet connection, not at sea
hose test all hatches before leaving
have backups for your autopilot
pre-mark your reefing lines
have earplugs and sleeping mask for off watch
be flexible in your watch schedules if somebody is getting tired

We did all this; except hose testing a hatch which leaked a fair bit of seawater in rough seas (the hatch was under wave splashes a lot)

So yesterdays run was a slow one as well--150 miles with an hour or so of motoring through a calm. Now we're in the SE trades (which are fairly light still) we're making a good 7 knots.
N 03 46 W 124 38 heading 225-230T

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