Thursday, June 30, 2016

1457 miles to go

Hi all....1st order of business is to wish my Dad a happy 80th Birthday today....
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Dad!!!! Hope you have a wonderful day today and year ahead. Sorry we are 
not there to celebrate it with you.

Sorry I have not done any recent's been an exhausting few days. 

At 12.43am on June 30th we have passed the halfway mark and have 1457 miles to go. Our 
position is 05 degrees 24 minutes south and 114 degrees 57 minutes west. We are on a heading
of 260 degrees and running down wind directly for the Marquesas Islands. Winds are between 
10 to 13 knots and have a speed over ground or between 6 to 6.5 knots currently. Seas are 
still a bit confused but we are at least going roughly with them.
Well were to start....maybe about 3 days or so back.....

It was early morning and we had flown our spinnaker on the last spinnaker halyard we have 
through the night. We had been making good speed. I went up front with my  binoculars to do
my morning check of the rig and when I looked up at the spinnaker attachment point to my 
dismay I saw that it appeared to be pulling off the mast.....are you kidding me I thought!!! 
I moved around to different angles looking up through the binoculars and sure enough 
confirmed the attachment point about 60 feet up was failing :(
No time to waste...We could not afford a breakage and the loss of the halyard if it 
separated from the mast. We quickly lowered the spinnaker and set the jib sail so we had 
some forward motion. After talking things through we decided I needed to go up the mast to 
see exactly how bad it was as there is no way to be 100 percent certain without getting eyes
 on. So up I went 60 feet in rolling seas. Luckily just before going up Ben gave me his 
combat helmet to wear....good thing as in one of the big sideways roles I knocked my head 
against the mast fairly hard. Once up there I confirmed that 3 of the 8 pop rivets had 
sheered off  allowing the fitting to bend up and away off the mast....It likely had maybe 
1 more hour left before it would have completely failed so good thing we saw it in the early
 morning light.

So we decided to hoist the mainsail and run with it and jib. At that time the winds were not
 directly behind us so this sail combination worked ok even though it was slower. Obviously
 the mood onboard was down as we realized we no longer had the use of a spinnaker and we had
 about 1700 miles still to go.

That evening conditions worsened and the seas were lumpy and confused and rough. Garrick was
 on the 10.30pm to 1am watch. As I lay in my cabin that night not being able to sleep I heard
 so many loud noises as we hit waves, the mainsail flogged back and forth etc. I went up on
 deck at 1.30am and sat next to Garrick to get the watch hand over. He turned to me and said
 your not going to believe this. I looked to my side and saw the mainsail lying on the deck..
What.....No!   !!!!!  Literally 30 minutes earlier poor Garrick had the main halyard break 
sending the sail crashing down next to him.

Luckily the halyard that broke was an external back up halyard we had rigged in Galapagos as
 an emergency halyard. We had decided to try it and unfortunately had used an inferior grade
 home depot shackle instead of a marine grade one at the fixing point at the top of the mast
 as we did not have a suitable shackle that size aboard.....that's what failed and not the 
rope. Sooooooo that was a bit demoralizing to say the least. Garrick insisted I go back to 
sleep as there was nothing we could do in the pitch dark. I reluctantly agreed and headed to
 a cabin to lie down and contemplate our dilemma and next moves. What a true friend and 
trooper...Garrick did the entire night shift from 10.30am till 7am the next morning.

The next morning we regrouped and got the mainsail hoisted again on the original main halyard.
 We had a decent days sail and saw a small  pod of Killer whales racing at high speed past us!!!! 
Very cool but scary at the same time.
That night conditions worsened....lighter winds...lumpy and confused seas and the winds 
switched to come from behind us....not good if you don't have a spinnaker!!!! We had to 
change course to adapt to the new wind direction which ultimately headed us over 50 degrees 
away from Marquesas....not good!!! Another frustrating night with not much sleep.

By morning the mood was one had slept in days, we were heading away from our 
destination... .something had to change and we needed to be able to use our spinnaker as 
winds were forecasted from behind for future days.

After much discussion and analysis between Adrian, Garrick and myself we settled on a plan 
to go up the mast and rig a temporary spinnaker attachment point by tying a spinnaker block 
to the front of the mast. The downside was we could no longer use our full mainsail as the 
only way I could tie  this on was by wrapping rope around and around the top portion of the 
mast and thus restricting the mainsail going that high up the mast.
So gear up again and up I went. The winds were blowing about 12 knots but right as I was 
about to go up....they started gusting to 24 knots!!! Luckily this somewhat flattened the 
seas and made them a bit more consistent. What a view you get from 60ft up and blue sea 
every where.....It was scary in such strong winds but I was so focused on the work that 
needed to be completed I did not have time to think much about the situation. About 45 
minutes later the work was done...I took a quick go-pro video and some pictures while up the
mast and down I came. 

By the time I was firmly back on deck I think it hit me and the adrenaline had been pumping
for the last hour....I had tears in my eyes as the emotions of the last few days caught up 
and the fact that we had safely managed to make a repair that will hopefully get us back on
track sank in!!!!

Within 30 minutes we had the spinnaker back up and flying on our new temporary halyard. Hats
 off to Garrick whom had thought through the temporary fix and to him and Adrian for doing a
 mock up on the base of the mast and cutting all the ropes to size so when I got up there 
every thing went well and fitted easily. We are so grateful as a family to them for all they
 have done for us and for all they have sacrificed to help us in our journey across the 
Pacific!!! It has been a hard trip with many many challenges and I am so grateful that they 
are with us and helping keep us all safe.....true friends they have been now in our time of 
need.....and ever since we all first met at university!!!!

Well there is no doubt that was a big  turning point for us all....Once that spinnaker was 
back and pulling us towards the Marquesas everything improved almost instantly!!! Adrian and
 I went for a nap and Garrick and Gaby decided to wash all the salt off the boat and gave it
 a full scrub down! The sun was out...a load of washing was done and water maker run....
life was fast improving!!! We saw killer whales again!!! Guds and Gaby even baked some 
brownies and a fresh loaf of bread!!!!

Yesterday the wind died in the morning and we took the spinnaker down and motored for about
 5 1/2 hours. Did more laundry and made more water. We changed the filters on the water maker
 as they were getting quite clogged and production had dropped from 17 gallons of water made
 per hour to about 11 gallons per hour. We also say another whale....think it was a sperm 

At around 6pm we reached the 1/2 way Mark and the GPS showed we had 1500 miles to go!!!! 
Garrick and Gaby had decided they wanted to go for a swim to have bragging rights they had 
swum 1500 miles offshore from any land!!! Peer pressure soon set in and we all decided to go
 for a swim ;) so we took down the spinnaker and slowed the boat down to about 2 knots before
  jumping in!!!

Glad we did it and will make for a good bar story one day;) Garrick, Adrian and I were all
 stung by jelly fish but it was worth it!!!!

Last night Adrian made us a lovely spaghetti dish that was devoured by 6 hungry and happy
 crew has improved and we see light at the end of a long journey.....
talk about character building stuff :)

Thank you for everyone's news, emails, blog comments and updates....Sorry we can't respond
 to each individual one....but know that they are so appreciated and keep us going :) 
its so nice to get these.

We are well....exhausted but getting caught up and looking forward to seeing land again....
We have been at sea now for 10 days and likely have another 10 to go. The kids continue to 
amaze us all how they cope!!!! I guess not doing any night watches helps give them an 
advantage ;)

We are in daily contact via our SSB radio with another boat roughly 1000 miles ahead of
us and a 2nd boat sailing about 300 miles behind us. We normally exchange
 and just talk for 10 minutes on how each is doing. Amazingly old technology that still works
 well today.....talking to someone 1000 miles away over a radio and not a satellite phone.
With that I will sign off and get ready to hand over to Adrian at 4am. As I have been on 
since 10.30pm...miles remaining are now 1437 at 3.45am ;)

All the best and regards from Dave and crew aboard Cool Runnings!!!!

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

1 comment:

  1. Well done guys. Enjoy the adventure.
    Best wishes Brian Chambers