Current Time: 2:00 AM
Current Position: North 18 degrees 48 minutes, West 53 degrees 43 minutes
Hi, Everyone …
From Philip, 4:46 PM, Sunday
As I opened a galley locker this morning, to get out some cereal for breakfast, I realized that it had a “depleted” look to it. There is certainly enough there that I am not going to run out, but it was noticeable. I mentally prepared myself, before we sailed, to be eating strange things out of cans, before we arrived at home. But Kristin has done a wonderful job of provisioning and cooking, and while it’s sometimes strange, it’s never seemed like something out of a can, or been unappealing in any way.
She was always a good, creative cook, but towards the end of our stay in Cape Town, when Matthew Thomas was helping us, there was a foodie convention/competition going on between Matthew and Kristin. At lunchtime, I’d just be eating a sandwich. It was a good sandwich, but it was just a sandwich. They were swapping recipes and talking about exotic ingredients, and doing the foodie thing.
Since then, the “presentation” has looked like something that belonged on the cover of a foodie magazine, and while one of the main ingredients might be a bizarrely shaped vegetable, that none of us have ever seen before, she has always made it taste like something out of a better restaurant than you were lucky enough to find.
And all this is happening in the middle of the ocean, without a grocery store in sight.
The admiral has just discovered that it is difficult to type and blush at the same time.
OK, it’s now 2AM, and yours truly got to eat some humble pie, after all that praise.
You can’t go 6000 miles on a finely tuned vehicle such as this one and not have something work loose. It shouldn’t have worked loose, but it did. And, what’s really, really disgusting is I SAW it working loose a couple of days ago, and meant to mention it to Philip, but also thought it might have been that way by design.
And then, of course, I forgot to mention it.
It turns out it was a serious thing, and I should have awakened him – at the time – so we could tighten it back up. Sigh. Another lesson for the admiral, who doesn’t feel very deserving of the title at the moment.
The jib, the smallish sail in the front of the boat, is on a roller furler. That means there is a spool-like thing at the bottom of the sail, and you can roll up the whole sail or just a little – you have control over how much – using the roller furler. Earlier today, while I was taking my post-watch nap, I noticed that the sail was vibrating more than usual – as if it wasn’t set properly. We’ve also noticed that there were almost-vertical wrinkles in the sail when she was partially furled, which hadn’t been there before, and the top of the sail – the “head” – wasn’t setting as nicely as it had been. All of these characteristics were related to that screw I had seen, but I wasn’t making the connection. Bad, admiral.
A couple of nights ago, I went up to the bowsprit while we were underway. I can’t remember why I wanted to go there; something caused me to want to check the furler or the base of the jib. Oh, yes, I remember. The jib just didn’t seem to be rolling up as nicely as it had before, and I wanted to see if I could do anything about it. While I was there, I saw that screw, sticking out about 3/8ths of an inch.
I thought to myself, “Hmmm. That doesn’t look right, but maybe that’s how far that screw is supposed to stick out. I’ll tell Philip about it in the morning.” I thought that, because there were no threads visible – the part sticking out didn’t have any threads. It didn’t occur to me that the screw was working its way out of its proper place, and it also didn’t occur to me that it was worth waking him up. What’s worse, is I didn’t make a note and put it on his placemat on the table, so we’d be sure to talk about it in the morning. Bad, admiral.
The very bottom front corner (called the “tack”) of the sail has a strap – a loop – sewn into it. That loop/strap goes through a metal shackle shaped like an upside-down “U.” The two bottom bars of the “U” are secured with that screw I saw, and that screw had worked its way out. If it had come all the way out, lots of bad things could have happened.
First, you lose the screw, and you don’t have a spare on board – so you have to jury rig something. Second, all the load that was on the sail, pulling the sail down, would be released. That could have been messy and/or dangerous. Third, until you got it all secure again, the sail wouldn’t be usable. We’d be limping along without a jib, and this boat sails much, much better with a jib.
Screws like that one are not just screwed in. They are also gooped up, so that the screw won’t work itself loose. We don’t know if it just wasn’t gooped up properly, or if the 6000-mile trip wore out the goop.
Fortunately, this afternoon we decided to furl the jib, because the boat was going faster than she needed to – especially for the eating and then sleeping part of the day/night. So I went out in the cockpit and started furling the jib. Philip was watching from the pilothouse, and as I started, he told me to stop – that something didn’t look right to him. He went forward, and saw that screw was partially out of its slot. He also saw what I didn’t see and should have, which is that there were three set screws in the a part of the furling mechanism – a tube that runs about a foot up from the roller furler spool – that had come out.
The bottom screw is now tightened again, and Philip checked it before I came on watch. It’s staying in its slot now. We called Matthew and talked it over and exchanged some emails, and he and Philip are discussing Philip’s jury rigging options for the three set screws. Philip is going to work on that tomorrow.
In the meantime, we furled the jib – made it smaller – using the roller furler, which still works, only makes those wrinkles in the sail. We’ll just have to live with those for now. The boat is going along at 6 – 8 knots, which is fine for tonight.
The captain was gracious about my blunder, but I feel rotten about it. I know better. I’ve actually gotten pretty good at spotting things like that since we took possession of Horizon, and I slipped up this time. Now, please, don’t send me any “don’t beat yourself up” emails. I’m not beating myself up. I just want my brain to get this message, because it’s important: When something doesn’t look right, think about it, and do something about it.
Out here, where there is no one around for miles and miles, and there is only you and your wits and your tools and the boat, prevention is the name of the game. Once something has broken, things get a lot worse. If you catch it before it breaks, or you keep it from breaking, you get to keep sailing along in relative comfort. A boat like this has a lot of pressure points, where a tremendous load is being managed by a single line, for example. If there is chafe on that line, you’re going to have problems. If a screw is coming loose, you’re going to have problems. If something runs dry or gets wet or gets salt water on it or gets out of alignment, you’re going to have problems.
There’s a tendency, when you’re zipping along and the spray is flying, to stay comfy in the pilothouse. I do tend to walk around and check things, even at night, but I have a feeling I’m going to be a more aggressive about that in the future, especially since the boat has now gone 6000 miles.
OK. On to another subject. Several of you have said you haven’t sent email to us on purpose. I guess I went too far with my $at Phone messages.
Regular emails – just plain old emails with one message in them – are just fine. Most of them are 1 – 5 kilobits (kb), which the sat phone downloads with ease. It’s 100kb attachments or emails where you hit “reply” to an Update but don’t remove the Update – those are the ones that cause problems.
So please feel free to send plain old emails, without attachments, when the urge strikes you. We love them. I read them to Philip when he gets up in the morning. It brings YOU into the boat., which makes us happy. It adds your spirit to the journey. It adds more love to the boat.
The older I get, the more I think that nothing matters as much as love – and being loving. Nothing.
Well, maybe that and checking for chafe. 🙂
My right eye is back to normal, and I do seem to be doing OK without the patch. No signs of seasickness. Brother Chris sent me some info about “bad moles,” and I think I can relax about Philip’s back a bit – it really does look like a bruise that is going through phases, that just happens to have a mole in the area of the bruise. I will continue to watch it.
It’s another moonlit night, with the Big Dipper quite visible, and the North Star higher in the sky than ever, now. The wind continues to hold, although it got a little lighter today (to the point where we were sailing with the full jib, and were thinking about sailing with the full main). But, the wind came back before we made any changes to the main.
Before we do, we have to “end-for-end” one of the reefing lines anyway, an operation similar to the one we did recently, only not so complicated. We won’t have to put the boom on the pilothouse. We just want to take one of the reefing lines and relead it so the part at the front of the boat will be at the back of the boat, changing the points where there could be chafe. Two of the three reefing lines have blocks (pulleys) actually sewn into the edge of the sail, that the line goes through. That’s good. One of them does not – something we will probably change when we get home – and that one can chafe. So we’re going to minimize that possibility by making that end-for-end change.
Well, it’s been nice visiting with you all, even if I had to eat humble pie. Hope you have a great day.
Philip and Kristin