Yacht Aditi

Boomerang (Day 6)

At about 9am a swell appeared which has to an extent broken our ‘in a marina without shorepower’ type feel to our world and we started a little rolling and yawing. 11am pulled in a bit of wind 8-10kn SW and we set full sail. During this time we decided to check out the clew, tighten the line fastening the sail to the aft of the boom roller, and as it was a touch frayed, work in a second 10mm line. The 10kn wind gave us about 5kn SOG for 5 hours then died again. At least we got a bit of snailing in! Sighted 1 tanker today.

It’s now 0015hrs and radar suggests that we are passing a yacht that is snailing along at about 3.5kn in 9kn wind two miles to starboard. The rig must be banging in the swell. No AIS unfortunately, at least we think that’s the case, but sometimes it just appears that way when nothing shows for several days at a time. The unit does have good onboard diagnostics but we have to shut down programs and play with computer ports to access it.

DTG 1435nm
Galley – yesterday’s Nasi Goreng. No takers for dinner.
Barometer 1019

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Day 5; Ocean Snailing & Never seen so much of nuffin!

Clearly we need to start an Ocean Snailing Club as wind remains 3 to 6 knots and we crawl along under power making about 100nm a day. Could be there’s a little wind for 12 hours or so on Saturday but that’s about it.

The sky has been crystal clear and panning 360 degrees on a searingly hot deck one can stare straight at the razor sharp edges of the horizon in any direction. No haze, no squalls, none of the fade out to a white blur. Just a sharp blue line. And I’ve never seen so many miles, mile after mile, of nuffin! Not a tiny cocktail stick on the horizon, no small white block, no black silhouette of a tanker, no AIS blip, no radar ping, no nothing! For a while you don’t notice but then after hours of isolation you search hard across probably more than the square area of Lichtenstein but there’s just more and more of complete nuffin!

Today’s ocean highlights include being down two hydraulic winches on the starboard side as the return feed must be blocked. Never mind. Had a scrap with the engine bilge for a couple of hours leading up to noon as the alarm went off and the electric pump seemed unable to cope with the inflow of water, Frantic checking of prop shaft through hull, raw water strainers, raw water pumps and hoses, exhaust outlets, silencer collection boxes….no visible issues. Turns out that the bilge sensor had dropped deeper into the bilge so much more water had to be extracted than one might think reasonable in order to shut it off. A quick check on the night shift.

Afternoon delight included loss of AIS, GPS and NMEA data on the nav computer which is a mini-Mac. This was running at 59 deg C plus and maybe protested with a partial shutdown. Another 1 hour scrap with more kit followed. And as the swell kicked in the rig started banging so down came the main and the halyard was re-routed through our new thimble and large shackle version of a block. Tonight’s night sky is more staggering than all previously amazing viewings. It’s so dark and so clear. So many stars are visible right down to the horizon 360 degrees around the boat. And the stars are bright, the colours intense. Then there is the Milky Way directly above.

DTG 1557nm (at 1 litre diesel/mile!)
Galley: Nasi Goreng with indonesian Sambal Manis/Ketjap Manis and a fried egg on top. Nobody wanted anything else for the rest of the day.
Barometer 1018

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Log out, or leave it?

Seemed our log was running slowly and we have passed many clumps of weed so putting two and two together some strands must be caught round the impellor? Do you take the speed log out of the hull to have a look when you are several hundred miles offshore? I pondered this a while and then decided that the log was important as it’s speed readings determine auto-pilot response rates, sail trim and still forms a useful cross check on progress. So out came the log from it’s through-hull fitting and I could see the bright green water rushing by under the hull at 4 knots. In it rushed before the blank bung went in and all was sort of dry again. The impellor? Totally clean so we have been getting some favourable local current. So the exercise was reversed and back through the hull it went. Beautiful weather, great sea, and hopefully a couple of pictures that will make it through.

Another horse, Cap’n?

Aye Aye Jim…and so it is hundreds of years later. No change. We are out of the trade winds and into The Variables, The Horse Latitudes, so named because the galleons full of livestock would be running out of water in the calms and to save on consumption would throw another horse over the rail. Sharks trailed the galleons and eventually a law was passed requiring that the horse be shot first before being flung to the feeding frenzy below.

Wind currently South circa 5-7kn and at 11 pm we were making under 0.5kn so we are back on the motor. Using about 4 litres of diesel/hour just ticking over at 1400 rpm giving us 5 knots.

Our excitement peaked today when, as we started motoring, we came upon our first yacht, called YSE. He was sailing solo and was over a week out of Guadaloupe. We were his first contact; Parlez Francais? Un peu….and now we are best ocean buddies united by a randomly knotted string of broken Franglais. He was travelling north at 2 knots to head up to the depression that is due in 3 days time. Looking ahead there isn’t any wind until Sat or Sun but we are staying south of the Bermuda-Azores line to try and glide the 12kn breeze.

DTG 1683 NM
Galley: Italian hot sausage & mash, Canadian bacon & egg sarnies
Barometer 1018

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Day 4 Bolt Out of the Blue

Heading 020/030 at about 5kn in a flat sea; another beautiful day gliding along although hardly closing the Azores. Suddenly I noticed a piece of plastic by the mid-ship cleat. Picking it up it looked like a piece of sheave so out came the binoculars to pan round the mast head. Can’t see anything amiss. Puzzling, what did fall out of the sky 3 days ago?

Minutes later….and there it was. A bolt, one of four, fastening the vang to the boom had sheared and it was the bolt head that had fallen on the doghouse window. Looks like an M10 so a bit surprised it has sheared. I carry lots of stud extraction gear but realistically the chances of removing the stud underway are remote.

So what about the sheave? Turns out it’s the main halyard block Lewmar No. 3 that’s been shredded. Quick trip to the chandlery (a walk round deck to see what we can re-deploy) and the only short-term answer was to use a thimble lashed to the toe rail (note to self never buy a yacht that doesn’t have a solid perforated toe rail! And buy more thimbles). We may have to declare our systems slightly bruised and sail softly to nurse the main halyard and avoid loading the thimble which I think has a 2 tonne working load. Running a soft foot at tack and clew to avoid any sail tension loading.

One sail change this morning to avoid a squall which promptly evaporated about a mile ahead after reefing.

DTG 1810nm (about 2 more days to clear the insurers hurricane exclusion zone)
Barometer 1019
Galley: Turkey Club Sandwich and Italian hot sausage with mash

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The Dog’s Leg

To sum up day’s 1,2 and 3 we have been navigating to wind on a close reach resulting in courses of 020, 040 and more recently 000. With so much north in our course we close the Azores by about 15 or 20 miles a day. The boat loves close reaching. Initially we were in the trades and stonking along at 7.5kn but more recently we have been gliding at about 3.5 to 6kn on a flat blue sea under clear skies in about 10kn wind with a small swell.

Below deck it’s 34 deg C during the day but cooler at nights; and the stars are amazing with a clear view of the Milky Way. We have changed sails just 3 times for squalls over the 3 days but the most they have delivered is 15kn wind so it’s nothing like the dreadful ARC experience of 40+ kns every night. Life aboard was a bit hard initially as the anchor locker drains to our central bilge. It’s a long story but the anchor chain cover on the foredeck got ripped off in Portugal so we were taking water through the anchor chain hawser as we bashed to windward and the bilge alarm was going off every hour. So we lift floorboards and switch on the pump but it woke up anyone sleeping. (On our second bilge pump as the new Jabsco Par-Max4 we fitted in Cadiz gave up after about 2 hours duty!). The new pump is a Jabsco (aaaaaagh monopolists!) but is a gulper. Have now replaced the cover with cable ties and jammed the pipe with plastic bags around the chain as a seal.

Life is currently very comfortable. Generator stopped leaking oil for first time in 3 years (rocker gasket), got headsail furling, and the watermaker can fill a swimming pool so we are splashing away…..

DTG 1910 Miles
Galley; Penne pasta bolognese, Turkey & Cranberry wraps, Shepherds Pie, Thai Beef Yellow Curry.
Barometer 1018Mb

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Oh no, the sea!

Left St Martin on the 08030 bridge somehow! Things were thrown in lockers, lashed to tables and what didn’t find a home ended up inside the washing machine for re-discovery sometime in the future.

At the bridge the news regarding Cheeki Rafiki was acknowledged and it’s hit the sailing community hard. We offer our condolences to all family and friends. Queueing at the bridge was amusing. A large Swan wanted to rush out to get to a race start a few miles away and asked if he could slot in ahead of us; as if the minutes mattered to our 3 week crossing so we waved him through. Up went the bridge, we’re off, no going back.

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Rounding St Martin we headed off on a course of 020. There was a race of some kind going on to port that had attracted some very large yachts and we were followed by a couple of superyachts which may have turned to St Barts so the sea wasn’t quite empty. Hoping for a boring passage things got far too exciting off Anguila in 50m depth when we found ourselves trapped inside a tuna net. Just as we had discovered this menace there was a loud ‘crack’ on our front windshield and something rattled across the deck. Whilst dealing with the net we were also frantically scanning the deck for evidence, searching skyward for anything amiss, and checking the rigging, boom fittings and so on. Eventually concluded that it was from outer-space and nothing to do with us! (further on that turned out to be wishful thinking).

We were making 7-7.5 knots and for two miles kept coming up against the string of white floats supporting the net so we were going close reach, broad reach…etc trying to find a gap, trying to understand whether the buoys were tied at sea level or deeper down. Suddenly the net curved in front of us. There looked to be a gap and just as we reached it with no possible out we saw a few dirty coloured buoys dead ahead, then abeam, and there was the thick rope joining the string at the surface. This was looking like a nightmare and I thought we had a protruding bulb keel so we were netted for good. A shout from Sophie we are dragging the string. Under full sail at 7.5 knots how is this going to unravel? Then it was gone. We didn’t feel a thing. How is that possible with a forward bulb keel? Then it occurred to me that was our last boat and this one has a keel like a ski-slope. Note to self; never buy a forward protruding bulbed keel! And we’re off!

The Dog’s Leg

To sum up day’s 1,2 and 3 we have been navigating to wind on a close reach resulting in courses of 020, 040 and more recently 000. With so much north in our course we close the Azores by about 15 or 20 miles a day. The boat loves close reaching.

Initially we were in the trades and stonking along at 7.5kn but more recently we have been gliding at about 3.5 to 6kn on a flat blue sea under clear skies in about 10kn wind with a small swell. Below it’s 34 deg C in the day but cooler at nights; and the stars are amazing with a clear view of the Milky Way.

We have changed sails just 3 times for squalls over the 3 days but the most they have delivered is 15kn wind so it’s nothing like the dreadful ARC experience of 40+ kns every night.

Life aboard was a bit hard initially as the anchor locker drains to our central bilge. It’s a long story but the anchor chain cover on the foredeck got ripped off in Portugal so we were taking water through the anchor chain hawser as we bashed to windward and the bilge alarm was going off every hour. So we lift floorboards and switch on the pump but the alarm wakes up anyone who may be sleeping. (We are already on our second bilge pump as the new Jabsco Par-Max4 we fitted in Cadiz gave up after about 2 hours duty!). The new pump is another Jabsco (aaaaaagh monopolists!) but is a gulper. Have now replaced the anchor chain cover with cable ties and jammed the hawser pipe with plastic bags around the chain as a kind of deck seal.

Life is currently very comfortable. Generator stopped leaking oil for first time in 3 years (rocker gasket), got headsail furling, and the watermaker can fill a swimming pool so we are splashing away…..we leave you with a view of the past few days sunsets during which we always have happy hour. A nice cold softdrink which is much appreciated as these are rationed together with a snack. We have some devilishly hot Mexican salsa from St Martin which is fantastic.

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DTG 1910 Miles
Galley; Penne pasta bolognese, Turkey & Cranberry wraps, Shepherds Pie, Thai Beef Yellow Curry.
Barometer 1018Mb

Passage Update from the First Mate

Well I don’t know what’s happened to the blog meister. Too much sleep I think! So, for the avid blog readers out there I thought I’d share what I wrote to our shore support crew for day 2.

We had another good day, better than the first. The sea has smoothed and the wind keeps getting some south into it so we are bending towards the Azores beautifully. Just call the boat ‘Bend it like Beckham’! The report we send in to Pangolin includes the speed and course plus wind direction and speed etc if you are interested.

We had a mild panic earlier when trying to play music (we had lost the wonderful local radio station but I’m not sure why we were in silence) and everything was fuzzy through our radio system. The thought of 2000 miles without music was a bit dire!

We have eventually got it working so big ‘phew’.

We saw one tanker today at a distance but now there is nothing on AIS or radar. So in out little circle of 12 miles there is just us.

Sophie now does a night shift on her own so we are all getting 6 hours off watch in a block. What a difference! Paul and I snatched 2 hours sleep here and there on the ARC but now we are getting at least 5 hours and then a snooze later. I am even dreaming, which didn’t happen until the last week on the ARC and then they were very disturbed. Tonight’s was memorable because we (5 people) had ordered at a restaurant and for the dessert course I had ordered a tissue. Well it was on the menu! I guess in my dreams I am on a diet and would rather blow my nose.

For lunch we had turkey salad pita pockets and dinner was cottage pie. Yum.

No vegetable disasters to report. We didn’t put any in nets this time and all carrots are safely in the fridge with no foil on them!

Lizards delay departure

It’s Friday and we should be gone. Large lizards, bigger than the ship’s cat are in the way. Well, we blame the lizards. But perhaps the fact that the last morning out-bridge was at 10.30am and we have yet to get fuel, had to check out of customs and do a bit more provisioning may have had a bearing on the departure plan.

Last thing to do is get about 350 litres of fuel to take it up to our full 2 tonne capacity. Booked in at 3pm but it’s gusting up to F6 pinning us to the dock. We are on a semi-length starboard finger and cannot go back, can hardly go forward, but need to go sideways. Spring off you cry! Well it may not be so simple as there is little room to move fore/aft once we have moved through say 45 degs on a spring. So we are waiting for a lull which you can be sure will never arrive! Fuel $1.23 US a litre is not bad.

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Now departing for the Azores 0830 bridge, Saturday 24 May.