Final prep… Went aloft to check rigging, and tightened a creaking nut/bolt that attaches the lower shrouds to the mast. Tightened the one for the running back stays, too. Noticed that the sheave at the masthead for the main halyard moves around a lot, probably worn where the pin goes through it. Don’t think this is an immediate issue, but something to add to the list for repair.
Dove to do a last scraping of barnacles, and noticed that we have a chunk missing from the bottom of one daggerboard. Not sure how/where/when that happened. Another item for future repair. Bought our expensive diesel. Filled a propane tank (also expensive). Got our fresh produce (not really fresh, since it is flown in from Australia; also expensive). Watched a movie with dinner the night before. Got our last Internet licks.
Day 1 – A twinge of sadness about leaving beautiful Cocos, and a little reluctance to leave the smooth anchorage for the open Indian Ocean…but…underway at 8am. Instead of Goodbye, they tend to say, “See you next time around!” We are setting our course due west, which is north of the direct path, because the wind predictions show a calm area ahead to the south. That area is expected to fill in after a few days; then we can adjust course to the south.
It was only one hour underway when our first casualty occurred. Our computer died. The most important function of the computer, at least at sea, is to control the modem that allows us to send email via the radio. Luckily, Tim had his spare laptop, and had loaded it with the software. So we can still communicate (and send this text to Hallie to post to the blog).
It has been a good first day. Winds mostly about 16 knots on our quarter. Relatively small seas; relatively small swell coming up from the Southern Ocean. It’s great to have a peaceful day for adjustment to the motion of the sea.
Day 2 – Near perfect sailing. Wind about 14 knots on the quarter. Flew our spinnaker most of the day, thought we brought it down for the night. We are very, very lucky to have these mild conditions up front. Lots of birds; lots of flying fish.
Day 3 – We had a bird (shearwater?) land on our bow last evening, and during the night she moved back toward the cockpit, about six feet from where we sit. She preened for hours, then tucker her head under a wing and snoozed. In the morning she flew off for ten minutes, then landed on the bow again. Until we put up the spinnaker, and had to run a line near her — then she left.
We had some major spinnaker excitement. We were setting our asymmetrical, and the sock was difficult to raise. We had all our attention on the situation aloft, and didn’t notice the wind starting to fill the sail with a wrap in it. We couldn’t get the wrap out; the sheets were twisted together so we couldn’t ease either; we couldn’t get the sock down; so we had a mess. We lowered the halyard and managed to pull the sail aboard before it dragged into the sea. The hoop at the bottom of the sock was broken. Don’t know for sure if that was a cause or an effect of our struggles.
So we stowed that spinnaker and broke out the old Parasailor (which is no longer a Parasailor since we repaired its latest tear by removing the wing and filling in the slot with solid fabric). This time the sock control lines got twisted/jammed/fouled. The spinnaker was flying okay, but the sock was not right, and one of the control lines was yanked from my hands and swinging up out of reach. We managed to grab it with the boat hook, and pull the sail down, half socked. Then we raised it in its sock again, and sorted everything out as it went up. The sail worked beautifully — if anything being more stable and more effective than it was when it had the Parasailor wing!
It’s been another beautiful sailing day, and we were tempted to leave the spinnaker up tonight. But after the reminders of how things can go wrong with spinnakers, we decided to switch to the screecher. This change reduces our speed by a knot or slightly more, but we are keeping apace with Maggie (we are about 15 miles ahead of them), so no need for speed.
Day 4 – Beautiful day, but not enough wind. Our noon-to-noon distance runs so far have been pretty feeble: 138, 142 and 132 (nautical miles between actual noon positions). But late this afternoon we got a nice breeze from the south, and the sailing is good for now.
We received an email around mid-day from Chris, the singlehander aboard Tom Tom. He reported that his forestay had parted, and although his mast was still standing he was in rough seas and had concerns about it. He had rigged several lines to provide support to the mast, but everything was tenuous in the rough conditions. We let him know we are headed in his direction, but we are 575 miles behind him. He appreciated our being “there” even if “there” is four days away. This evening I got on our SSB radio net (a loose association of boats crossing the Indian Ocean and checking in on the radio daily), and spoke with Alicia aboard On Verra. They are only 25 miles from Tom Tom. But they don’t have email at sea. So they offered to alter course toward Chris, and try him on the VHF radio as they get closer. Chris is still sailing, with greatly reduced sail, and he is not asking for assistance at this time. Hopefully he will be able to sail slowly into Rodrigues, but we will try to “have his back.”