Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December 17, 2014 2200 UTC

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 2200 UTC
Atlantic Ocean - 336 NM East of Flagler Beach, FL (Hi  Bill) 535 NM North of the Windward Gap.
N 29 28.689 W 074 59.136 Course 180 Speed 4.8

Happy Birthday to Andrea. Wish I was on Tenerife with you to celebrate!

The last 36 hours have been long and tiring. Mother Nature (or Neptune) decided to show me what she had. Yesterday morning the wind finally started to pick up. Unfortunately it was blowing from the Southwest. Since I am trying to go due South this meant that I had to go close hauled (up wind) all day. In order to get Reboot to point high enough I put in a double reefed main in addition to the jib. Going upwind usually means you are also going into the waves and yesterday was no exception. It also means that the wind speed over the boat is the boat speed plus the true wind speed. As time wore on the wind continued to pick up. I continued to furl more and more of the jib. The waves also continued to build. In the early evening the true wind speed was exceeding 30 knots and the wave height was about 8 feet. Even the double reefed main was too much sail. Reboot was literally going airborne off the tops of the waves. Considering she weights 11 tons that is saying something!

The only way to get the main down is to head into the wind and stall the boat. At this point she is pitching up and down in 8 foot waves. It also requires going up onto the foredeck. Even with a harness, life jacket, and tether that is not much fun. I got about 2/3 of the main dropped before Reboot simply refused to stay headed up in the wind. As I fell off the remaining main caught the wind and off we went, fortunately at a reasonable 6 to 7 knots. At this point I was still on course but being hit by 8 foot waves on the beam. Reboot was rolling 30 to 40 degrees from side to side. I noticed that the vane steering cables have become undone. Nothing was steering, just the waves pushing and the main pulling was keeping us on course.

Once when talking to Ed (Hooligan) about getting ready for sea he said jokingly “I just go, Everything finds its place after a day or two.” You can imagine that everything that was not tied down found its place on the deck sliding from side to side.

I realized that this was not going to work so I pointed the stern at the oncoming waves and started the sleigh ride (it being Christmas season and all.) Reboot stopped rolling and I was able to retie the Monitor steering cables. But once again I was not headed in the direction I wanted to go. Unlike yesterday when it was benign and I was drifting I was going the wrong way very fast. The good news was that I was able to stabilize my course due East. In the Caribbean, since the prevailing winds are from the East, one can never be too far East. I was reminded of the old Navy saying “in the event of a nuclear explosion point your ass to the blast and run like hell.” In the end I made about 60 NM due East. That was of course off course.

In the middle of the night I looked over at the voltmeters and realized I was quite low on battery power. Since it was critical to keep the AIS and navigation lights running I fired up Mother Yanmar and let her charge the batteries for about 4 hours. This morning I disconnected the second wire from the broken solar panel. I am hoping that there was some kind a a short that was dropping the batteries. We will see.

After a long and sleepless night the dawn finally came and I was able to see both the sails and the seas. They were still in the 7 to 8 foot range and the main was plastered against the spreaders. The winds had started to moderate to about 25 knots. I checked in on the Waterway Ham Radio net and was told that the winds should shift to the Northwest and the waves moderate over the course of the day. And so they did. I was able to go upwind and get the remainder of the main sail stowed around noontime. By sunset I was headed back due South with a moderate following sea and wind off the starboard beam. I even enjoyed watching the sunset. Of course I didn’t enjoy picking everything up off the floor.

As I write this after a very tiring 36 hours I finally have …….

Fair winds and following seas J

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