Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Onward! to the Marquesas Islands....

The Marquesas Islands. You know contrary to experience, we read up on places we'd like to visit. We talk to people who've been there, to get their take on the place and then we go...and we inevitably find it to be radically different to our expectations. Its quite amazing the difference. So we've read up on these islands..a lot..we've been told that the snorkeling and diving is exceptional...loads of fish varieties...but not many corals....the water is wonderfully clear with great visibility....the islanders are friendly and will barter food for things....its been hard to find out what things..but we've stocked up with stuff for the children and some vanity stuff for young ladies. It will be interesting to see all of this for ourselves. That's all part of the fun of traveling.
Sunset Day 1
I could give you a day by day blow of what we did but I wonder if that might get boring. So I'll tell the interesting bits ...Day 1 ..we managed to do a lot of sailing, but were heading into the wind and so progress is slow..even on a cat...the wind kept moving around..and I mean moving around. It blew from the south then a few minutes later it moved west then north then east then south and then west then north....and from 0 knots to 20 knots. All in one night...David put in one reef at sundown, then he shook it out a few hours later...a comment in the log book “Our route plot looks like a 2 year old's attempt to join the dots “...I struggled to keep the boat on a reasonable course during my watch...forever tacking this way and that, Eventually David took over at 2am and he had the same fun..putting in reefs and then having to shake them out again...we were both exhausted and we were going nowhere fast..or even slowly.!Oh yes we also had rain, and lightening, and more rain and then some more rain....So eventually David hove-to...ahh peace and quiet. We might as well try and get some rest until the wind makes it's mind up as to what it's going to do :-) Our goal was to sail SW so any direction in the S to W quadrant was acceptable, but sometimes we were headed WNW and others ESE as our angle between tacks was about 120 deg with the current factored in (it was against us).
With all this going on, David saw that one of the sail's battens was working its way he re- positioned it and tightened it up...then he had to repair the topping lift had chafed through and he had to tie another rope to it, to get it working again. So the dawn hours found us sailing under genoa only whilst repairs were done.
As you can see a very frustrating time...:-p
Our 24hour distance covered...a mere 61 nautical miles.. ;-( A SURPRISE...David called 'Good News' on the VHF and they responded.. whoo hoo, we swapped positions and found that we were about 13 miles away from them...we chatted about the conditions and they were pleased to hear that we'd also decided to hove-to. Then we lost radio contact and that was that... sigh... we sailed on slowly. By the time it was my watch again we were racing along at 2.7 knots :-P the ocean was almost a mirror, hardly a breath of wind. We'd decided to take a break and have a sundowner cost us a mile..we drifted backwards.....and by the end of my watch..6 hours later I was so frustrated with trying to keep the boat moving... I wanted to scream..I was more than happy to hand over to David at 2 am...It was starting to drizzle...boy was I ever happy to be climbing into my bunk.
Rain Clouds, everywhere we looked.
David got a bit of wind so at least the boat was moving..about 4 knots....and in the right direction too...and so during the day we pottered on...slowly...we only run the engine when we need to charge the batteries..for about 2 hours a day if there has been no sun, for the solar panels.
The GPS was having some fun too..note the lines off to the side..we did not actually do that.
And so it comes around to me watch on the Monday night...30th wind again. I sat at the helm willing the boat forward...and accomplished an astounding 2 nautical miles in 6 hours...yeah I thought I'd been frustrated yesterday...Boy! Tonight really took the cake! I was in a really bad mood when I went to bed...of course by the time I woke up the wind had risen to a roaring 4 knots....and we were once again racing along... comment in the log book... We have done an amazing 3 ¾ miles ( as the crow flies) in the last 12 hours and probably twice that over ground in tack changes and wind shifts.”
When was this going to end....please please give us a decent breeze. We'd even whistled for the wind during no avail.
By mid morning we were finally moving at 5.7 knots...a much more respectable speed. Then at 15:04 ...we heard “ crack! Shuck shuck shuck.clack clack” what the heck....???? we both realised at the same time..the main halyard has broken the main sail is down! Heck …..we just get moving and now this! David took our topping lift....the rope that holds up the end of the boom and tied it to the Main...."Okay" he said "we'll do without a topping lift...sail like this and when the wind dies again I'll go up the mast and sort it out"......did the wind die again..heck no!!

Okay so that was on Day 4. The wind stayed at between 5 and 15 knots with very choppy in a top loader washing machine., so it's been impossible for David to go up to the top of the mast as yet. We've had loads of rain and had to constantly drape ourselves over the transom to bail Limo, our tender, as her bailer holes seemed to be blocked with something...we found out later that it was blocked with onion skins. Also there seemed to be a lot of water getting into the Puddytat via an outside locker. In really rough seas we are used to going down and pumping the shower well out every now and then, but this was ridiculous..every third wave that broke over us I knew I'd have to go down and pump...Why?
The first time I realised that there was a problem the shower was totally awash with water slopping into the cabin area..what a mess. I had to bail into the basin whilst David cleaned out the filter for the pump. There was broken bits of shell and hair clogging it. Still, why was Puddytat taking on so much water? David watched the movement of the boat and it seemed as if the port bow was struggling to lift out of the waves, what was making it so heavy? He went forward to investigate. In the very pointy section of the bow is a locker that we keep our fenders in. The lid locks down, its not water proof so water gets in, but there is a drain for the water to escape through. The ropes from the fenders had somehow worked their way down and out through the drain, blocking it rather effectively. So the locker filled with water, the fenders were pushing against the locker lid and nearly escaped entirely when David opened it up. Now when we put the fenders into that locker..we tie all the ropes together. This seems to have done the job of stopping them from blocking the drain. The bow, filled with water, was having a hard time lifting up after it had plunged down into waves. Once David cleared the drain hole everything returned to normal. Since then we've had hardly any water into the shower well.

You may be asking, why does water get into the boat via an outside locker...well for some strange reason, when the fuel tanks were installed into those lockers, some clever soul drilled a nice big hole from there into the inner works of Puddytat, at the lowest level of the locker, to put hoses through. So now water sometimes finds its way through that hole and into the shower. Thank heavens its into the shower and not into any other part of the yacht...Just another job on David's list of things to change to our liking.

Anyway so Day 5 slipped by, we're pretty exhausted. This section of the trip is sure taxing my sailing prowess, goodness knows what a woman who's sailing with her husband 'because he wants to', feels. I'm totally bushed, she'd be ' hey there , beam me up Scotty, I've had enough'...I actually said to David ..'Okay, stop the boat I wanna get off'...kinda jokingly just to let him know that I was feeling rather stretched... In times like this you can decide to hove-to. Its wonderfully calming and restful. You can get a good few hours of relaxed sleep that will fortify you and off you go again. We didn't, we're seasoned sailors don't cha know..ha ha Oh yes I forgot to tell you, Remember we'd spent that time in the Las Perlas islands cleaning the bottom of the boat? Well later that day I discovered yet another tiny crab hiding out in one of my ears! I kid you not! This is the 4th time its happened, damned annoying. Anyway I don't know why but this time I got here we are sailing along with all this stuff happening and I've got earache..which then infects one of my teeth, so I get tooth ache...sheesh! I treated the earache with a mixture of half water half vinegar squirted into my ear 2 or three times a day, plus two Iboprufen just before bed so that I could get some sleep.
It worked....eventually.

During the night the wind decided to strengthen to 28 knots so we put a second reef in the main. Puddytat sailed better and we didn't really slow down that much. Also saw 4 ships during my watch.
Day 6 was entirely uneventful. It slid by, strong winds and lots of rain, but peaceful..thanks.

The same could not be said of Day 7...I woke up and on going above to greet David and the day, I was informed that we would have to hove-to to fix the Port trampoline. Ho hum. It had been bashed by the water so much that the stitching that was probably rather UV damaged just gave out, so it was half dangling in the water. Also Flea, our other dinghy, was tied down to it, so we had to come up with a plan. Another thing was the roller furler rope for the genoa sail, it had chafed through and needed to be replaced... so two jobs to be done and I hadn't had breakkies yet...pooh
The front pole on the trampoline broke..and then everything just fell apart..
When we hove-to and went forward we realised that the roller furler job would be easy but that we couldn't repair the trampoline, we'd have to remove it, but that would leave a huge open space there. So we came up with a great idea. We wove ropes back and forth as best we could. You couldn't walk on it but if you slipped and fell you wouldn't fall through it. Good Ja! ...Ja! :-) Those two jobs took four hours and during that we'd drifted 4 miles backwards. But the job was done!
Our new trampoline.. :-D
We cut the line and tied it off...
I forgot there was one other job to be done before we set sail......We'd run over yet another long line and it had caught on something under the boat... David had cut it but it was still under us. He tied it to one of the stanchion poles, and now he had to go swimming to cut it away from under the boat...he thought maybe it was tangled around the props....
While he was doing that I had some much needed toast and pate to eat. Toast, you ask, do you have a toaster on board?...we do, but not like you'd recognise. :-) In the UK you can buy these great little fold up flat toasters that you can set on a camp fire, we wanted one but in the States you can only buy those stand up Coleman toasters for the fire...we don't like them. So we had to improvise...we looked everywhere for something that was made of mesh and that would lie flat on our gas (propane) stove. We were walking through Office Mart and I saw an envelope holder..the type you put on your side table at home to hold the post. I stopped, picked one up turned it on it's back and looked at David. He smiled and bought two. It's perfect for toasting the bread that David bakes...well for any bread really. ;-)
Our Toaster ! :-D
Suddenly I heard a yell..Oh heck I thought, there is a 2 knot current running, he had strung a rope to the boat with a fender at the end of it so that he could grab onto it if the current pulled him away from the boat, had he missed it, did I have to go and rescue him? Fortunately that wasn't the problem, or maybe unfortunately, because David had been stung rather badly by a blue bottle, he had welts all over him...out came the vinegar again..Its great at neutralizing the sting. He did, however, clear the props of line before he got out, so we were soon on our way again.
The sting marks stayed with David for about a day.
Day 8. David's suffering from sunburn from yesterday and he lost a filling that he'd had done up in Mexico. In the late afternoon David spotted a sail, behind us, and over time watched it get closer. We were doing 7.5 knots with one reef in the main and this other yacht was slowly catching us up. He called them and they answered. The boat is called Rapparee, Don and Sally are delivering her to New Zealand. She's a 60 foot yacht, and she has her main and jib out fully and is doing 8 knots. That's why she's catching us.. ha ha We watch them sail by, it takes them about 3 hours to finally overtake us. They're heading for the Galapagos Islands for a day or two to do some repairs..we tell them that we're not going but they give us some info about the best place to drop anchor if we decide we need to go there.
Day 9. We've used rather a lot of fuel and David's filling up the log book with calculations of estimates to see if we can last till the Marquesas or if we should stop at the Galapagos islands for a top up. We discuss it and decide that if we need to conserve fuel, we'll cook all the food in the freezer and store it into the fridge then switch the freezer off. We're only using 3 gallons of water a day at the moment, but maybe we could economise some saving using the water maker..also we can run the engines at lower revs when we charge the batteries...Okay so no worries we'll just carry on.
During the afternoon the boat kept on veering off at a tangent...why? We sail with the autopilot on 'wind'. Are there big wind changes going on? David looks up at the top of the mast. Our wind direction instrument has been knocked sideways, maybe by a bird. He switches the auto pilot to compass heading...Add it to the list. Every evening at six thirty we put a symbol of a Martini glass on our track, then we look back to see how far we've traveled since the last one. Its kinda fun. I also take a photo of the sunset, if its not clouded over and raining. Today we've sailed 181 miles since cocktail hour yesterday. :-)

As usual I take over and start my night watch at 8 pm..20h00. We're traveling at 9.3 knots ..this is great. Don't know what the wind speed is but it feels much the same as it has been for the last day or so.
Then at 20h50, …..DISASTER!!! The topping lift that we had moved to become a main halyard snapped. The main came sliding down the mast. I yelled for David and went to center the boom so that it wouldn't smash the solar panels. Fortunately it missed them. But now we had no way to get the main back up. We're sailing with the genoa only. What the heck is chafing the ropes through all of a sudden. We've done heaps of sailing all the way from Hawaii to Canada and down the west coast of the USA, Mexico for 2 years, down the Americas...with no problems..AND we've replaced these lines {ropes} with new, so it's not as if they are old and worn out.

We're a day away from the Galapagos seems that we are fated to stop there. David is not happy about this. We envisage huge costs, for the privilege of anchoring there to do our repairs. Fortunately we'd got that info from Don and Sally the other day, it was going to come in handy.

The x's are where we've been and the cocktail glasses are our course we've traveled on this leg, the 'x' in front of us is our way point to sail to.
Day 10. We have an uneventful sail, didn't have to tack again, the wind was kind and we sailed right to Wreck Bay on St Crystobal Island in the Galapagos, dropping anchor at 8pm... 20h00....
The sun going down as we head into port....

Wonder what tomorrow will bring...and how the heck is David going to get up that mast with no ropes to pull him up?

See ya. :-)

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