The Big Test

Miles traveled Day 19: 147
Miles traveled to date: 2,535
Miles to Hiva Oa: 626

Last night was just a spectacular night to be sailing. The wind was in the 15 knot range, the seas were down, and we had a 2 knot current helping us along. There was no moon, but the stars were out and it was just beautiful. This morning, however, is another story altogether.

As predicted the wind has eased considerably. It’s become a test of both our patience and our sailing skills. The seas have died with the wind, but there is still enough swell to cause the main to slat and bang every minute or two. The only way to push this heavy old girl (no, I mean the boat) in 8-10 knots of wind directly behind us is to use our spinnaker as if it was a symmetrical spinnaker, put it out on the pole and float it in front of us. The spinnaker is making a huge difference and actually giving us 4-5 knots of boat speed, but the main is still slatting around. We hate to drop it and lose the power that it gives us, so we may just try and tuck a reef back into it. With less sail up there’s less to bang about in the rollers.

The forecast looks gruesome, and is going to be light like this for the next three days. Before we left there was a boat on its way here that we heard was 5 days out for 10 days. I don’t want to even think that’ll happen to us.

We did have a major equipment breakage earlier in the week that has potential to be a big problem. The self steering gear has a stainless latch that holds the paddle in the water and it has cracked and failed. We got mail back from the manufacturer and they have no solution for an interim fix. They can ship a new latch to the Marquesas so we’re investigating that. Our autopilot has been doing a good job of steering in the meantime, but it’s compass is a little wonky right now and it doesn’t really know what direction it’s going. As long as we’re steering a course relative to the wind direction it seems to be keeping it together.

We’re just hoping the wind and the autopilot hold out for a few more days…..