Tales from the Pacific Day 12

Water over the side decks
Overnight we found ourselves under the cloud we’d watch build south and west of Temptress all the previous day. The wind built to F3-4 SE’ly by the early hours of Wednesday 23 March requiring all hands on deck for the first reef to be dropped in at 2am. Not without a bit of fiddling as the snapshackle that holds down the tack had somehow capsized itself to starboard under the other gubbins at the top of the gooseneck (the hinge-like fitting that joins the boom to the mast).

It was one of those topological problems that if you could get the boom at the right angle and the rings that guide the tacklines for the higher reefs just so the securing shackle would slip around back to being the top item; it was not to be, eventually the skipper undid the offending article with the pliers whilst the first mate held the sail out of the way. Why does stuff like this happen in the middle of the night? At least the almost full moon was bright enough to read a book by!

The rest of the night Temptress bowled along some how missing the rain showers. How we long for rain, we’ve seen none since Shelter Bay and everything except the deck which we poured saltwater over in Las Perlas is still covered in a fine coating of dark brown dust. Overnight the boat log that measures distance (and speed) through the water tipped over 999nm and this morning read 17.8 – more maths! The naviguesser needs to add 1000 to every entry in the written ships log. And too we covered 92nm over the ground on a heading of 230 degrees AND the wind is holding – far more than the forecast at F3-4 ESE. Both genoa and main are reefed.

Suddenly life has got busy and time flies quickly, it is noon already. After breakfast I wrote up the previous batch of these electronic meanderings, precis’ of my little red book jottings and got ready some position updates for the website map.When I’d done Kevin sent an email to mailasail.com requesting an updated forecast then uploaded the stuff I’d written whilst waiting for the forecast to come back.

We both poured over the new forecast our only incoming communication from the outside world part from the sporadic SSB reception some mornings. Our interest is not simply the weather at our current position but also further down the track. I put in a series of marks at 50 or 100nm representing progress during the duration of the forecast then we run through it. The question is always do we head more west than south or more south than west? Our destination lies at a latitude of eight degrees south on a bearing around 250 degrees. The trades are below us ie south of us some where.

We shook out the reef put in before breakfast then Kevin fixed a locker catch in the sleeping cabin. On our port tack it won’t stay shut spilling wrapped up packages of rice and beans over the sea berth – interesting sleeping companions for the off watch!

The last of the beetroot has been cooked and kidney beans are soaking; the skipper plans a chilli for supper. Meanwhile we furled up the gennie a bit again having been lured by a short lull into letting some more out. And then it is noon, time to record our 24 hour progress and afterwards flog the clocks to UT-7.

The current plan is to sail 230 degrees until we reach 5 degrees south (approximately two days sailing) then bear away more west towards Hiva Oa. Our speed around noon was 8 knots over the ground but will it last?

Sorry State
Going forward to ‘skirt’ the genoa in the night (ie pull the lower edge in over the guardwire as the sail is sheeted in, our big genoa is a deck sweeper to maximise sail area and despite rollers on the top guardwire it doesn’t always go from outside to inside without a helping hand to lift its lower edge) I noticed that my usually firm hand hold of the forward dinghy strap as I slip down from the windward to leeward rail on the foredeck was a bit loose. Closer examination by moonlight on the way back revealed that one of the aft tubes has deflated. Now is not the sea conditions to examine the problem. Effectively our ‘car’ has a flat tyre; essential for getting ashore to complete formalities of entering French Polynesia when we reach Hiva Oa we can only hope that the problem is fixable by us. For now the straps have been tightened and we are ignoring the issue as far as possible though it is there not ten feet from the cockpit every time we look forward.

Noon to Noon: Through the water 109nm Over the ground 145nm Noon position: 02 31.01S 99 00.45W