After The Gale

Miles traveled, day 6: 96
Miles traveled total: 646
Miles to Port Angeles: 3,956

We went 96 miles yesterday, but only 31 were made good in the direction of home. It was a long ugly day and we’re both glad it’s over. About 4:00 we noticed we were making ground to weather and the boat wasn’t sitting as comfortably in the waves any longer, so we decided the wind must have eased too much to remain hove to with just the double reefed main and it was time to leave. When we went outside the first thing we noticed was our US flag dragging in the water behind us – the flag halyard had parted sometime earlier. Then I realized the reason we were moving so much was because we had chafed through the reefing line and lost the second reef. The mainsail was laid up against the spreaders and we were sailing.

We both agreed there was still too much wind to shake out the second reef, so we decided to drop the main and hoist the trysail. An exercise that would take maybe 20 minutes in good conditions (when, of course you would never need to do that) took 2 hours. It was just becoming dark when the work was done and we were sailing slowly again. We took our night watches from inside while it poured buckets outside. The wind continued to ease, so the trysail wasn’t giving us enough power to overcome the seas and we were rolling gunnel to gunnel every few minutes. But neither of us wanted to go outside and deal with the jib, so we put up with it until daybreak.

This morning it was another 2 hours to reverse the process and get the trysail back down, the mainsail hoisted and the decks cleaned up. First thing we found when we went to roll out the jib is that the bow pulpit is completely bent up from the dinghy crashing into the lifelines. Luckily we’ve got a couple of inches clearance between the stainless rail and the roller furling unit on the jib and it will still roll in and out.

Repairs that need to be made outside when we both get rested up and the seas flatten out again: 1) re-tie dinghy into correct position; 2) replace bar on bimini support that came out; 3) reinstall bimini; 4) reinstall dodger panel that blew out in 46 knots of wind; 5) repair the reefing line on the mains’l. But that list is nothing compared to the cleaning we need to do inside. The boat absolutely reeks of saltwater infused towels, sheets, cushions, carpets and rain gear. The floors are all covered in salt water, there’s a quart of milk sloshing around the bottom of the refrigerator, and everything that once was on a shelf is now on a bed or the floor. Normally if we were near landfall we would save the cleaning until we were anchored and rested up. That’s not the case with nearly 4,000 miles to go.

There was one really good thing about yesterday, though. We both learned that we make a good team when things get really tough. All the frustration and unhappiness and discomfort never turned in to squabbling or arguing. We work together really well outside on deck, even during the worst of the weather. On one of the weather faxes I downloaded yesterday I saw another low pressure system developing over Japan. While I wait another 6 hours for the next set of forecasts from Hawaii for our area, we’re hoping to find out we don’t have to go through all of that again soon.