Cocos to Rodriguez, Part 2

Day 5 – Beautiful sailing all day. A respectable 160 miles noon to noon.

On Verra was already west of Tom Tom, and 35 miles away, so they did not connect by VHF radio. But Tom Tom was on the radio net tonight. His wind has decreased to 20 knots, and he is continuing to sail slowly on. He sounded the same as always — upbeat! It was nice to chat with him a little, and pretty clear that he appreciated the contact.

This is a particularly empty ocean. For five days I have not seen a boat or a light or an airplane. Just water and waves, sky and clouds, and occasionally birds and fish.

Day 6 – Today was a frustrating sailing day, with not quite enough wind. But worse, the wind was constantly shifting to the east (begging for the spinnaker) and then the south (requiring that the spinnaker come down). But at sunset the breeze freshened and came south, and has stayed there. We are happily sailing with mainsail and screecher at nearly 8 knots. Hope these conditions hold for my watch in 4 hours! Our 24 hour run was 150 nautical miles.

The update from Tom Tom tonight is that he is doing okay, but he has winds 25 – 30 knots. All the other boats on the net report 20 knots or less. Chris is taking quite a pounding!

Day 7 – A mix of great sailing and (now) flailing in the waves with wind too far astern to steady the sails, making for uncomfortable and noisy going. 160 miles run.

Day 8 – 162 miles run. Completed first week of the passage, and crossed the half way point. Baked bread to celebrate.

Weather deteriorated during the day, with heavy rain at times, and wind gusting to 30 knots. Twice we went out to reef, and both times as soon as we were outside both the wind and rain seemed to increase. Oh well. Glad to have two reefs in for the night, not so much that we need it right now, but probably we will at some point before morning. A problem now is the jib collapsing and filling, with a crash that is preventing Tim from getting to sleep. There was also a period earlier when we lost our wind instrument data (which would make the night sailing in the gyrating seas very difficult). But a reboot of the electronics brought it back. Dolphins visited today. Lost a (another) fishing lure.

Very wet on board now, especially in the pilothouse, but also working its way toward our sleeping quarters. Boats ahead also report rough conditions and overcast, but at least not pouring rain. Hopefully we get a chance to dry out soon.

Day 9 – Frustrating day. Started out dry, but got wet. Wind up and down, backing and veering, so we always seemed to have the wrong sail combination set. Our track looks like we were drunk, wobbling north and south in the wind shifts. We flew our small spinnaker for a while. Then the wind decreased to about 14 knots and stayed there for a couple hours, leaving us underpowered. So we put up the big spinnaker (old Parasailor). Within minutes the wind was blowing over 20 knots, and we were screaming down waves, sometimes hitting 15 knots (while I tried to prepare lunch!). We talked about getting the sail down, but thought we would wait for a break in the rain…and then the wind eased to maybe we would keep it up…and then despite the lighter wind it suddenly blew out — major tears all along the foot and up one leech! This is the third time we have torn this sail, and I doubt we will bother repairing it yet again.

A ship passed us only a mile away, but we couldn’t see it in the rain. Eerie.

For the night we are trying a single reefed main and slightly reefed jib, the latter to try to keep it from collapsing and banging around when the wind shifts aft. Pretty nice going at the moment, though very bumpy. This ocean is not a comfortable one!

Day 10 – When I came on watch last night, TC and I put in a second reef. When Tim came on watch four hours later, he and I put in a third. Very rough; difficult to sleep in the crashing and banging. But today was a pretty day. The wind was far around to the south, so we are broadside to the waves. Spray in the cockpit means we’ve been inside the pilothouse all day. And it looks like we will be inside for the remainder of the crossing, as the wind predictions have it increasing in the days ahead. 550 miles to go. 185 noon-to-noon run. If we can keep our speed up (without breaking anything important) we can get to Rodrigues in three days. But the increasing wind is a wild card. If it kicks up a violent sea we may have to slow down. TBD…