Hi all...Dave reporting from about 780 miles offshore!
We are at latitude 02 degrees and 39 minutes south and 102 degrees and 36 minutes west. Wind is a pleasant 11 to 13 knots and we are doing about 8 knots with almost a 2 knot current from behind!!!! We have the spinnaker up only and current sea state is ok.....All this as of 9.30pm local time on Friday night June 24th.
Well it's been a while since I wrote as we have had an eventful last two days and nights!!! Today was our first somewhat normal day that we all managed to catch up and rest and start to all feel a bit better.
Two nights ago I was on night shift and at around 3am I started hearing a strange humming sound. It was dark and as I looked around the boat and went past the port transom I saw a line coming from under the boat and going out behind us into the darkness! I went back to the helm station to get a flashlight and noticed our speed had dropped from 6 knots to 3 knots in 12 knots of wind and when I returned I could see a float attached to the rope and a long nylon line extending out as far as I could see into the darkness. We were dragging some kind of fishing line or net!!!!
I woke up Adrian to help me try and free it. We clipped ourselves onto safety lines and both on the back swim platform tried to lift it out the water to cut it loose. There was huge strain on the line and it was extremely difficult to pull it out the water with a boat hook. Eventually we managed to get it close to the surface and Adrian manage to cut the line. A huge twang noise shocked both of us and showed how much strain the line was under as we cut it. Guds was also up behind us and the 3 of us were surprised by the noise. By this time it was about 4 a.m. and we went to sleep but Guds stayed on watch.
At around 5.45am I was awoken by Guds shouting...Dave...Dave. I knew this was not good from the sounds of her shout and came racing out my cabin up to the helm station. It was still dark as she pointed to a small panga fishing boat racing down towards us with just a white light and no running navigation lights. I shouted for her to get Adrian and Garrick up on deck. By this time the boat with two rough looking guys on it was just off our port transom! They headed for the starboard side and came within 10ft of our side. They just spoke Spanish and seemed to be checking our transom....maybe looking for their fishing line or net? Then asked for cigarettes and gas. I motioned...no...no.....and after being forceful and motioned for them to push up with my flashlight they sped off. They were over 400 miles offshore in a small boat maybe 20ft long with a 30 horsepower outboard fed gas from a 20 gallon drum. I believe they were a scout fishing boat from a mothership fishing boat, but obviously piracy crosses your mind.
So a fun start to yesterday.....It gets more intense.
So the seas got pretty nas ty and confused and I wanted to check we did not have any line left on the rudder or saildrive after cutting it earlier that morning. When the seas are rough enough you can sometimes look through the glass escape hatches as they get covered with water and you can see the boat keels like looking through a glass bottom boat. So that's what I did and looked back at the port rudder underwater. To my shock it looked bent sideways and I just imagined the strain of the fishing net pulling it and bending it before we could cut it loose!!! My heart sank.....could this be or was it an optical illusion from looking so far back underwater?
As we were doing about 7 knots there was no way to jump in and check so I decided to stick the go-pro camera over the stern to see if we could video any potential damage. I sat down at the helm with Garrick and as he and I were discussing how we would do this.....BANG....a load cracking noise. As we looked up we saw our spinnaker falling into the water in front of the boat!!!!!!
The spinnaker halyard had just broken!!!!! Everyone jumped into action and luckily Garrick had the sense to think to free the windward sheet which allowed the spinnaker to go around the starboard outer hull and not get dragged under the boat. I ran to the bow to free the remaining lines while trying to hold one of them. It was under such strain it pulled straight through my hand and burnt my fingers and part of my palm. Adrian came rushing up in his pyjamas and we all eventually managed to get the soaking spinnaker dragged back on board.
After we recouped for a few minutes we began to investigate what had happened. It appears the swivel block pop rivets we had installed for the spare spinnaker halyard in Cayman Islands came loose and with nothing to hold the halyard close to the mast it moves around at the top of the mast unrestricted and likely chafed through very quickly after the rivets came loose. The halyard then broke und er strain once chafed through. At least the spinnaker was not torn but a pulley used to pull down the snuffing bag was damaged.
Fun fun fun :)
While Adrian and Garrick worked on getting the spinnaker ready again and replaced the broken pulley I set to work again on videoing the rudder for damage or remaining line. Long story short the video showed all looked ok and what I had seen was an optical illusion.....yay!!!
While the spinnaker was being repaired we deployed "puff" our trusty geneker to keep us sailing. Within about 2 hours we redeployed the spinnaker on the second halyard and were back in business....less a broken halyard that will have to be fixed in Tahiti.
After all this Guds found the Will power to bake a loaf of banana bread and cooked us dinner!!!
Well sadly that's not the end......
At around 7.30pm I suddenly (as I was not paying attention) noticed a "mothership " fishing vessel trailing just off o ur stern about 2 miles and running what appeared to be a parallel course. It was about a 80ft boat is my guess....commercial fishing boat. No AIS signal was coming from him. Sadly all the commercial boats we have discovered since leaving Galapagos have no AIS as required by international law on any commercial vessel big or small....So you get no warning as they approach. So this boat gets closer and closer!!!!
We are over 500 miles offshore in the MASSIVE Pacific ocean and this guy decides to run right next to us and cut 1/2 mile in front of us once he went past us. Well it's pitch dark as all this is going down!!!! Still unsettled by the morning encounter with the small fishing boat....plus we cut his fishing line....my suspicious mind starts thinking this mother ship is coming for revenge or piracy!!!!
I woke up the crew and we watched and watched as he got closer and closer and eventually cut across in front of us. We got all our anti piracy defenses re ady and by this time tension was high! Eventually he carried on in front of us for about an hour and eventually slowly pulled further away. Likely just innocent but we don't know why he came so close with such a massive ocean available to fish in. I could not sleep after that so stayed up till 11.30pm and then poor Garrick did his and Guds nightshit from 2am till 7am.
Well it was a good rehearsal in what to do and we discussed learning today and had a good few laughs. Poor Garrick caught a bug as we left Galapagos and has battled to shake it so last night was the last thing he needed after a tough day.
Thankfully today was a much better day :) We ran the generator for 3 hours to charge batteries as we have had little Sun and took the opportunity to also do 2 loads of laundry and make 3 hours of water. By noon we recorded our best 24hr run of this leg of the journey...176 Miles covered since yesterday at noon.
Other than that.....We are all doing well today as the seas finally settled a bit and we all start to feel a little more settled.....still not 100 percent but a big improvement today after an exhausting last 48 hours.
Thanks for everyone's well wishes, notes, comments and emails!!! We love them.
All the best from aboard Cool Runnings!
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