This blog is about planning and preparation for a circumnavigation of the world in a 39-foot sail boat followed, hopefully, by a diary of the actual circumnavigation. You can track the progress of Pachuca by visiting http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VNW5980
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
The wind speed kept increasing and I managed to stave off putting in the second reef by rolling in headsail, but an hour later I was still not happy with the situation and decided to put in the second reef. The job went remarkably well considering that I was working in dark moonless conditions using my last working head torch. The deck light was not working (more on that later).
I then tried to get some sleep but I couldn't settle down because of banging noises that came from the bow whenever the boat dipped into a wave. I dressed up and went to the foredeck and surveyed the situation while clinging to the inner forestay. The plow anchor was still on the roller. I had missed a golden opportunity to move it from the roller and lash it next to the mast during the first quiet day of sailing. On the second day I discovered my error and lashed the anchor to the stem with two ropes to ensure that the anchor would not jump off the roller. I also used the gypsy to tighten the chain, drawing the flukes firmly back on the roller. What was happening now was that when the boat dipped the flukes would be pushed up enough to cause the stock to pivot and slam against the chain locker cover. There was no danger of structural damage, but there might be some scarring on the teak. I then glanced at the whisker pole lashed along the starboard rails and it did not seem to be moving. I then stood there for a few seconds thinking of how my poor preparation now had me far out in the foredeck in a howling wind on a pitch black night, more than 100 miles of the coast, with the top of the occasional wave sweeping over my feet. There was no point in kicking myself because reality was making a very good job of doing it for me.
I then got into the bunk but still could not settle down. We were pounding into a rough sea making 4.5 knots, with the constant noises of the hull slamming into waves and the anchor thumping away. Just before midnight I had had enough and decided to heave to, so I put on my wet weather gear again and went topside. Heaving to was easy because the mainsail was already set with a double reef. I rolled in the rest of the headsail (an extremely difficult job in strong winds), disconnected Jeff, and lashed the wheel to weather. That worked just fine, with the boat quiet other than when the occasional wave hit the hull. At the chart plotter I saw that though our heading was to the north we were drifting to the SE at about 1 kt. I didn't care. It was a small price to pay for safety and peace.
I then switched on the radar, found no targets, then switched it off again. Nor were there AIS targets. I set the timer for 3 hours, took two Ibuprofens to calm myself down, then went to sleep. Three hours later I was up again and found no radar or AIS targets. I decided not to set the timer again because I the likelihood of encountering a fishing boat off the continental shelf was very low, the AIS system would alert me of any ships approaching too close, and besides, I was only drifting.
I was up just before dawn and over coffee and toast thought about what I knew had to be done, which was to get the anchor off the stem roller. I may as well do it now, while we were hove to. I would have to take the chain off the gypsy and pull out 4 or 5 ft of chain from the locker. Then I would remove the ropes holding the anchor to the roller, reach around the forestay and do a one-handed lift of the 45 lb anchor, get it through the gap between the headstay and the pulpit, then work it back slowly across the curved and slippery foredeck. I got dressed and went forward with 3 sections of rope and did the job as planned. I lay the anchor with the flukes forward, touching the ring at the base of the mast where the turning blocks are fitted. I placed the end of the stock against the U-bolt on the forward deck winch platform. I then spent 30 minutes lashing everything firmly with redundant lines. That anchor would not move. I then stretched the chain and wound it around one of the anchoring bollards. The teak, by the way, had barely a dent in it. Teak never ceases to amaze me.
I then visited the whisker pole and although its aft was firmly clipped on to a deck fitting made for the job, and its middle lashed with shock cord to the toe rail, the forward lashing was gone and the front of the pole could move up off the deck about 6 inches, which would have been another source of banging sounds in the rough seas. I soon rectified that.
Then it was time to start sailing. I freed the wheel, rolled out some jib, moved the mainsheet to the leeward side of the traveler, and off we went, doing over 5 kt into an apparent wind in the low 20's. I was very pleased and relieved to see that the wind had backed overnight and we were making good a course almost directly north. This would give scope for easing the sails and sailing off the wind a bit.
The deck light is a sad story. I went to replace it with something better before departing from Fremantle in 2008, but all that I could find was the identical replacement unit. It looked flimsy, burned an incandescent globe rather than an LED, and amazingly, had no plastic or glass lens protecting the globe and reflector from water. I sailed with that replacement and have trouble with it on and off (literally) along the way. The latest problem was that I could not get well fitting replacement globes (close, but not exact) in La Paz. I was more fortunate with the masthead light. I mounted a German-made tricolor with the LED light rated at 50,000 hours. It cost me $600 but is has been completely reliable so far. Anyway, I'll see if I can find a better deck light when I visit the USA.
At 9.30 AM our position was 34S46, 051W07. We were 365 miles from MdP, giving us a 24 hour distance of only 60 miles, and we were 730 miles from Ilha Bella, meaning that we had moved only 45 miles toward our objective. The wind had proven to be much stronger than what had been reported by the various weather sources over the previous weeks. So far this passage had been mostly a hard beat to weather.
At about 10 AM I eased the boat off the wind and reduced headsail, dropping our speed to below 5 kt. This gave a more comfortable ride. An hour later I spotted a ship approaching me from behind. It was the Glory One, bound for Gibraltar at 11 knots. AIS computed at times that we would pass within 200 ft of each other. By watching the numbers as they jumped around I saw that he would pass in front of me and whenever the boat yawed to the right our closest distance would increase. I adjusted our course to put us on a beam reach which opened up our CPA (Closest Point of Approach) to more than 2 miles. The ship was still 90 minutes away, so I would have to keep a wary eye for a wind shift that might take me back onto the path of the ship. I knew that I could always hail the ship on VHF and that ships had always been very accommodating about adjusting their course for a sailboat, but I preferred to avoid the issue on my own. (The ship eventually passed 2.7 miles away.)
At 2.45 PM I started the engine in order to charge the batteries. I took the opportunity to roll in the headsail, point the boat into the wind, and drop the mainsail far enough to free the starboard lazy jack where it had become fouled at the end of a batten. I then raised the sail back to its second reef, and soon was on my way on a broad reach with the engine helping.
It was a different kind of sailing. The day's cloudy sky told me that I was probably under the influence of another low passing to the south. As the low moved to the east the wind would continue backing for another day or so. I figured that the previous evening I had been caught in the high winds of a squeeze zone between a high to the north and the low to the south. This is largely conjecture because for some reason Argentina does not provide a radio weather fax service and I have not been able to raise Brazil's service. So the boat now had a sea following off the port quarter, with the occasional wave breaking from behind and spreading white water around the hull and pushing the boat along. Our heading was slightly to the east of north and if the conditions didn't change I was looking forward to good overnight progress in closing in on Ilha Bella.
At 5 PM we were at position 34S11, 050W55, making 6 knots on course 005T. I had dithered regarding whether or not to drop the mainsail for the night and allow the jib to pull us along. Although we were sailing very well my instincts told me to play it safe. It would be much easier to control the headsail and an accidental gybe would not be serious. It's just as well as I did because after the sail change when I tried to re engage the Monitor a pin broke in the locking mechanism and I had to improvise fast. The side pin that spirals down the slot was gone so I took out the spring that exerts back pressure, reducing the system to just a large pin that fits through the two holes to lock the steering with the wheel. To hold the pin in I used cord which I passed through a hole at the handle part of the pin and wound around the wheel weaving in and out of the spokes to ensure that the cord would not interfere with the control lines. This jury rig seemed to work fine and should see me through the night. In the morning I would see if there is a replacement in the marvelous Monitor spares kit that had served me so well. Our boat speed had dropped from just above 6 kt to 4.5 kt, but the drop in speed was worth the peace of mind going into the night.
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- Official Clearance into Angra
- At Enseada de Sitio Forte
- At Marina Bracui 22S57.010, 044W23.687
- Ilha de Paqueta (2S59.586, 044W24.465)
- At Ilha Da Gipoia, 23S03.809, 044W21.321
- Another Night at Enseada de Sitio Forte
- A Day at Praia de Proveta
- At Ilha Grande
- Departure for Angra
- Last Day at Ilha Bella
- More Preparations
- Mercury Outboard Running
- Trapped On Board
- Clearance Into Brazil Done
- First day at Ilha Bella
- Safe on Mooring
- Final Run to the Anchorge
- Fair Wind and Following Sea
- Quieter Night, Great Day, Reasonable Progress
- Another Tough Night with Good Progress
- Half Way, and Storm Trysail
- Rough Night, Good Progress
- Hard Night
- Tracking for Pachuca - by Stephen
- Variable Wind, Fighting Current
- Difficult Night but Good Progress
- Sailing Well
- On the Way
- One More Night
- Cleared to Go
- Clearance Blues
- Fridge Follies and Boat Ready
- Firm Departure Time
- Settled Marina Account
- Wine Supply
- Progress with Refrigerator
- Saved My Bacon
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