Baking Bread…? Part 1

Not much fresh food left. I decided to start a batch of bread. I had the thought that I might do the baking during my night watch, between 2300 and 0300. That way I wouldn’t interfere with the cook preparing dinner, and I’d be heating the galley at the coolest part of the day, and it would provide a diversion for me on what seemed, at sunset, like it might be a rather boring time.

At 2300 when I replace Bill on watch, I am in my usual just-woke-up-after-too-little-sleep fog. Bill asks if I want to shake out the reef in the mainsail, since the wind has gone very light. Also he points out an unusual vibration/sound that he can’t identify. I go into the galley in search of the source of the sound, and find water on the floor. A quick check below the floorboards shows water there, but not a lot, so the water is coming from above, not below. Setting the water question aside, I check the fridge and freezer as potential noise sources. Nope. Venturing into Tim’s sleeping area, I find it. He’s got his wall-mounted fan running on high speed. Mystery #1 solved.

I taste the water on the galley floor — it is fresh, not salt. And I notice that our filtered drinking water spigot has a small but constant stream running from it. Yikes! A check of the starboard water tank shows that it is nearly empty. The port one is full. The stream of water explains the empty starboard tank. But the stream runs into the sink, so why there is fresh water on the floor remains a mystery to be investigated in the morning.

What about shaking out the reef? Bill is still waiting before going below. It starts to rain. Oh well, yes, the wind is very light; let’s do it now while two of us are awake. We do it, and Bill heads to bed. The noise of the winches plus our deck light has woken Tim. He asks if the starboard rudder is okay — a new concern he came up with earlier to explain water in our engine room. Assured that there is nothing going on with the rudder, he goes back to sleep.

The rain stops and the wind comes back. We’re moving along very nicely now. Eight and a half knots through the water, but only 6.5 over the ground. Two knots of current against us? That seems like too much for out here. It seems like we always have current against us. Is that real, or is it that our through-the-water boat speed is over-reading? (We know that it over-reads, and we compensate for that; but maybe we’re not compensating enough?) Maybe both are factors.

Our navigation system shows three ships nearby. One is already clear of us, headed north. The other two are overtaking us, one on each side. This requires my attention, to be sure we are clear of both of them. By the time the second one has safely passed, there is a new “blip” headed our way from the south.

The wind is now blowing 20 knots. Maybe the reef should go back in the mainsail. Or is this just a passing cloud with a little wind of its own? I’ll wait, and watch both the wind and the approaching ship.

I decide the bread can wait until morning.

More Answers to Questions from Team Rock!

Greetings from 17 degrees North latitude, 83 degrees West Longitude!

More Answers to Questions 6-10…

6. What kinds of personal conflicts have you experienced onboard?
The three of us have gotten along remarkably well. As Bill suggests, we have a “common enemy” (engine problems, etc.) that brings us together. But I don’t think we need a common enemy to get along well. It can be challenging to live in a small space, with little sleep (when at sea), and still be considerate of others, but so far, so good..

7. Have you seen any sea animals yet?
Very few. Many people saw manatees when we were in Key West, but I always seemed to come along just after they swam away. One dolphin paid a visit this morning. We have flying fish now, which are fun to watch. Sometimes they seem to glide endlessly, just above water. We caught two fish that were mackerel-like, but bigger than what I’ve seen in Maine.

8. How old were you when you first went sailing, bought “No Regrets,” and decided to sail around the world?
I learned to sail when I was 13, when I joined the Sea Explorer Scouts (related to the Boy Scouts). My father had been a sailor, and he was very supportive of my sailing (he bought boats that I could use!). When I was in college I crewed on a boat crossing the Atlantic. Later Hallie and I bought our own cruising boat, left our jobs, sold our cars, sold our condo, and for a year we sailed across the Atlantic and back. I thought maybe that would be enough to satisfy my urge to cross oceans, but the idea of sailing around the world has always hung around. I was 59 when Hallie made a comment about my getting too old to do a circumnavigation. That spurred me into action, and my partners and I bought “No Regrets” a few months later (nearly two years ago now), and signed up for the Blue Planet Odyssey.

9. What places do you look forward to visiting most?
I tend to get more excited about the passages (between places) than about the places themselves. I think that is rather unusual; for many sailors the boat is the means of visiting cool places more than a means of crossing an ocean. But I find the Panama Canal intriguing, and the idea that we will cross from one ocean to another via a man-made “ditch” definitely has my interest. The Galapagos Islands are high on my list, due to their abundant and varied wildlife. French Polynesia is up there due to its classically beautiful, romantic allure. Australia has always seemed like a cool place. I’ve been there, but only on a business trip, so I saw the sights of Sydney only.

10. Is the saying, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky in morning, sailors take warning” true?
Hmm. It is true enough that the saying sticks around and sailors notice the red skies. But like most weather predictions, it is often wrong. At sea we get weather forecasts via the SSB (single sideband) radio, along with our email (that I’m using now to send these answers to Hallie, so she can post them. The forecasts include both a textual description of the general weather patterns, and charts that show the predicted wind direction and strength. These, too, are often wrong, but they are probably more useful than relying on sayings.

THANKS for the thoughtful questions! Keep them coming!

Answers to some Questions from Team Rock…

Here are answers to some questions sent to me by Team Rock, seventh graders at Lewiston, Maine Middle School:

1. So many problems with the boat; why not sell it and get a new one?
Several reasons…The first is cost. We bought a 15 year old boat because that’s what we could afford. A new boat of a similar type would cost 2 to 3 times as much, and be beyond our means. Also, remember that we thought we had taken care of our major problems last summer. By the time we discovered that was not the case, it was too late to switch boats even if we could afford to do so. It takes time to equip a boat with all the right gear, and “get to know it.”

2. Have an of the boats had a lot of problems?
As far as I know, the other boats have not had the kinds of problems that we have. (But we haven’t spoken with the boats coming from Martinique yet. They will rendezvous with us in the San Blas Islands off of Panama.) The boat “Gusto,” also from Maine, had problems with their electronics, possibly due to a lightning strike. They turned back to Key West for repairs. We’re hoping to see them restarted soon, but according to the daily position report we get over the radio, they are still in port. One boat had to withdraw due to health concerns. One boat is indefinitely delayed due to crew problems. Another is indefinitely delayed due to a shortage of money. So there are many kinds of problems that can arise. Ours appear to be manageable (though we were in doubt about that for a while!).

3. What kind of weather are you expecting on the 800 mile tour?
This is a major topic of conversation on board right now. When we cleared the western tip of Cuba, we thought that we would be able to sail a direct course to San Blas. The winds along the way commonly blow from the northeast, but we’ve had southeast winds. As you probably know, a sailboat cannot sail much closer to the wind than 45 degrees. Catamarans, ours included, cannot even sail that close unless the water is smooth. We’ve been doing a lot of bouncing around, sometimes with spray blowing over the bows, and we’re feeling pretty uncomfortable. Not much desire to cook, or eat. We’re hoping for a wind shift soon. Wind aside, it is mostly sunny and warm.

4. How far away from you will other boats be at any given time?
The three boats ahead of us that left from Key West have been staying close together — probably within sight of each other. But we are 400 miles behind them. We saw one sailboat as we rounded Cuba; it was headed west to Mexico. We’ve seen perhaps a dozen ships since we left Cuba. We have to pay attention to them — where they are and where they are headed, so we can be sure to avoid them. Once we catch up with the other boats, I expect we will commonly be within a few miles of one or more, except for the long ocean passages, where the boats will likely spread apart.

5. Did you go through the Bermuda Triangle?
Nope. Maybe on the way home…

See next post for answers to questions 6-10!