April 16, 2011

Sail to the South Pacific-Day 7: 1000+ miles...

Dawn was dreary. We haven't had a single spectacular sunset or sunrise since leaving--and certainly no green flash. And we've seen so little sun that our battery banks didn't have enough juice in them yesterday for Maia to participate in the kid's SSB net unless we charged them with the engine. So Evan tried to start the main engine.
Switched to the starting battery. More nothing.
We are a sailboat but our engine is pretty vital. It moves us, gives us power and adds a measure of safety. Having it not work is a bit of a worry. We have a secondary motor--but the outboard really is just for maneuvering. It has a really small alternator and it's pretty vulnerable in big seas. But we started it anyway--in the hope it would charge the batteries enough that we could start the main engine.
Meanwhile Evan started diagnosing the diesel. I stood ready--throttling up and down, starting and stopping while he did black magic stuff in the engine compartment. While he called out instructions I watched our progress--noticing the way the grey waves lifted us toward the grey sky, and the way they peaked to a brilliant, gleaming glacial-blue right before bubbling into snowy froth. I marvelled how we slipped down their face--at times disturbing huge flocks of iridescent flying fish into unlikely seeming flight. Then I would crank the engine again.
Eventually the engine caught--stayed caught--seemed all better--until alarms started to ring. It's been a few days since alarms rang. So we had to hunt down the source.
Oil pressure.
Evan had looked for water in the engine and hadn't seen signs, but now they were obvious. It must have come in through the exhaust during the rough first day. I switched off the engine and back into the engine compartment he went. Changing the oil, once then twice, with a third planned soon. Then we had the smooth rumble of a motor and together with the brief sun we charged our batteries.
We've turned south. The NE trades are too far west and we need to start toward the equator. The Genoa is poled out to one side. The main is prevented on the other. It's called wing-on-wing. If you were astern of us we'd look like an ungainly bird--hurtling down steep waves. Relying on our wide base to keep us straight. For four hours we averaged over 9 knots.
It's a comfortable motion--somewhere between a child's roller-coaster and a hilly country road. It sounds of surf. Spray soaks our decks.
We've come over 1000 miles and we're about as far from land as we'll ever get. It feels like I can go anywhere I've ever wanted to and I guess really, I am. I was five when I saw a boat that had recently arrived in Comox from Hawaii and I realized that little sailboats could cross oceans. I made a pledge then that someday I would cross an ocean of my own.

It's as magical as I ever dreamed.
N 11 35 W 120 22

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1 comment:

S/V Endurance said...

Sounds like a stressful moment you had today! It was good reading your post... it's making me wonder what we could have done! Good luck in the rest of the voyage!