Trade Winds at Last!

Finally we seem to have the expected trade winds. For the past 24 hours they’ve been blowing 13 knots. We’d prefer another five knots, but we’re happy to be sailing once again. We have just the spinnaker up, which makes for very easy going. Just set it and forget it, so to speak.

In fact, this is the first day that I’ve felt rather bored. Last night a line that controls our hydro generator broke, and I thought I might be repairing that this morning. But Bill had already fixed it during his watch. (Pretty impressive, hanging off the back of the boat alone at night…) This morning we had a problem with our electronics, where some of the wind and speed information wasn’t getting displayed. But a “reboot” of the system set that right. There’s not much route planning/strategizing to be done, assuming the trade winds will continue. I wasn’t planning to do any cooking/baking today. So not much on the agenda.

We entertained ourselves for a while with ideas about getting more sail flying, since our spinnaker isn’t terribly big, and we could use more power. We drop the mainsail when we fly the spinnaker, because the main blocks the spinnaker’s wind, and we go just as fast with it down. But there’s a big gap between the bottom of the spinnaker and the deck — could we come up with a way to capture the wind that must escape there…? First we put up our storm jib. We knew it wouldn’t be very big, but we’d never flown it before, so this was a chance to learn something. It was good to go through the exercise of rigging it, in case we ever actually need it, but it’s so tiny it didn’t make any discernible difference in our speed. So we brought that down and tried flying our small spinnaker “under” the bigger one. This didn’t seem to catch much wind, and it interfered a little with the big spinnaker; we judged the net difference to be zero. Then we tried pulling the small spinnaker aft, close to the mast, inside the furled jibs, and off to one side. This actually seemed to work. That is, it increased our speed by half a knot. Not pretty, since it was rubbing up against the headstay and the big spinnaker sheet and sometimes other things, and had the potential for getting fouled and making a mess. We brought it down for the night. I doubt it will go back up unless we get back into the racing mind-set, which we lost when everyone started motoring (and the boats ahead of us motor faster than we do).

I had a dozen or so books on my iPad that I wanted to read, but my iPad got a salt water shower the day before we left Galapagos, and it died. So I’ve been reading the PAPER books that we have on board. I’m on the last of the three novels. Next I’ll have to decide whether to start reading reference manuals or switch to electronic books that Tim has on his extra laptop.

One thousand miles to go to Hiva Oa.

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