Sun, Mar 18 9:33pm

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One of the things I am most careful about, is making sure that I am holding on to
something secure when I move about, particularly when I am on deck. I make sure
that I have a solid hold before I look for the next one, and try never to not be
holding on to something. The way the seas reach the boat, and the rocking and
rolling that goes on, it would be an easy thing to topple overboard.
Down below, I also have a mantra, have two things to hold on to. With just one
hold, it is easy to be spun around and be banged into some part of the boat, each
time it hurts to get slammed into the furniture. When I am cooking, I have to
stand with feet wide apart and be conscious of the rolling motion, my knees
compensating for the swaying. I was thinking that I had it down proper, no matter
how much the boat rolled. However, last night after cleaning up, having made a
scallop potato and pork chop casserole, I must have missed a cue. I was reaching
for the kettle, and suddenly found myself flying across the cabin. My right kidney
slammed into the corner of the engine cover, and horizontal by now, my head cracked
on to the wooden frame around the refrigerator. Stunned and in pain, I lay on the
floor shouting, feeling bruises on both forearms, a terrific pain in my back, and a
headache that left me dizzy. Hoping that nothing had been broken, I lay there for
a few minutes, feeling the terrific pain in my back and head. Luckily, nothing was
broken. I sure gave thanks about that. A thousand miles out to sea, and it would
have been a fine mess to have to deal with a broken part. Each time I tried to
sleep, the pain in my kidney and the rocking of the boat had me bracing myself
against the sides to minimize movement. This morning, it is a bit better, I have a
bit of a bump on my temple, a nasty bruise on my wrist, and I have to move
carefully to avoid having my back make me jump.
Another lesson about being out in a big empty ocean. So far nothing has fallen
off, but there are still six thousand miles to go. Oh well. One day at a time

Sat, March 17, 9:35pm

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The first few days were slow, searching for wind. The last four or five I have been
in the trades and have fairly constant wind from the NE, although it weakens from
time to time. This has kept Rafiki on a course of about 220 and we have been making
from 100 to 125 miles per day. Last night we were racing along, and amazingly, it
was as smooth as a railroad train, just a gentle motion to remind me that I am at
sea.
Now I am below 10 degrees North, getting close to the ITCZ. The last 48 hour
wind-wave charts Clinton sent me showed that the ITCZ petered out about 110 degrees.
That could mean a free ride through the doldrums, but as I am still a few days away,
things can change. Maybe Clinton can post a copy of the latest 48 wind wave chart
so that you can see the ITCZ, where the trades meet.
This is sure an empty ocean, no sign of anything else around. Just the ever
present gannets, which I think is the right name. A big brown gull like bird that
can soar and glide like a jet plane. They seem to like playing games with the
wind and the boat, seeing how close they can come to the sails, diving around
behind the sails and aiming at the solar panels as if wanting to land, like a jet
plane landing on a tennis court. Sometimes they do land. And then sit there proud
as punch preening themselves and enjoying the ride. Others like to play games
with the top of the mast.. hovering and matching the roll of the boat, then trying
to stand on the windvane at the top of the mast. So far out of the four part wind
vave, the birds have broken off two parts, one half of the vee, and the arrow part
of the wind indicator. At least I still have the back half of the arrow to see
where the wind is coming from. Once I looked over to see one of the birds get up
from a dunking, perhaps he was the one that had broken off one part of the vane
and it had dumped him in the sea. Serves him right.
Most days are taken up wishing the wind would meet the forecasts. Today was
supposed to be 15 knots of wind, but it hasn't got that strong yet.
Other things are noticing the odd noises on the boat at night. I have gotten so
that I recognize every sound. When I hear a strange one, I have to go an
investigate. Like last night, I heard a vibration sort of like a violin string.
When I tracked it down, it was the genoa pole, which I had pulled back to rub on the
fore spreader stay. In the dark I had tightened the sheet and got it too tight.
This morning I noticed that some of the cars on the boom slot had broken. Out of
nine cars holding the main sail to the boom, two had broken and three were pulling
loose from the sail, from luffing when the boat goes off course. I managed to drop
the main, haul the boom over the dodger, and slide in cars from each end. By
unclipping and clipping to the next one, I got them all attached. At one point I
was sitting on top of the cockpit roof, clinging to the boom, hoping that my
preventers were holding, while the boat rolled back and forth. I could see myself
if one let loose, swung out over the sea ten feet away, hanging from the boom,
waiting for the boat to roll the other way to carry me back on board, and not just
get smashed against the frame. All went well though.
I am nearly finished the meals that I prepared in Mazatlan, so in a couple of days I
will be making a casserole again.

14 March 2012

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Finally departed Mazatland Tuesday March 6th at 1:30 pm. I was ready to leave in the early morning, but the Port Captain closed the port, for the first time in three months we had fog. At last I got the call on channel 22 that I had a green flag and could leave. With John from Tenacity and Josh from Wind Song handling my lines, I backed out and headed off, Josh piping me away on an Irish whistle, and other friends giving me a toot as I went by, Chris and Jo-Ann on Mariposa, and Wally, the Albertan who provided his pick-up truck to help me get the last four loads of diesel.
Getting out from Marina Mazatlan was interesting, it is a narrow channel, past El Cid, where the dredge was tied up, and around the breakwater and into the sea.
The new prop pushed Rafiki along at 7 and a half knots at 2000 revs, and after getting out five miles, well away from the island, I cut the engine and raised the sails. In just 7 knots of wind we moved at 4 knots. By 7 pm we were down to 2 or three knots. That was to be it for the next day.
As we poked along, we went through a calm area where there were dozens of turtles floating on the surface, one would occasionally raise his head and give me a look.
Late in the afternoon the wind picked up to 10 knots and it was great to zoom along..making eight knots but really heeling over. I took in a bit of canvas and slowed up to five knots for a comfortable few hours, eventually the wind dying about 3 in the morning. Had to motor for a few hours trying to get out from behind Baja.
Thursday was rough with the seas quartering and big swells. With just a half of the foresail we still made 5 knots.
That was it for a few days. Friday I turned west to make a little way. Saturday still creeping west just south of Isla Scorocco. Some of the keys on my nav laptop stopped working. Sunday an easy night at 3 knots. Still westing. Give in and motor from 5 am till ten.
On Monday I turned south to catch a wisp of wind. At night finally get constant breeze and average three and a half all night. Now on Tuesday morning, coming up exactly seven days, we have averaged just under eighty miles a day. I had hoped for one hundred a day. At least this morning it feels like we are getting into the north east trades and some wind.
So far it has been a Sunday afternoon sail on a lake. Nice smooth easy nights. No traffic at all to worry about. Beautiful sunny days. I find myself thinking about food, and drooling over the next meal. I have taken to wearing a hanky in my cap, like the foreign legion neck and ear cover from the sun, but the rest of me is as brown as a west Indian.
The tow generator only puts out power at a speed better than 3-4 knots. At five or six it really generates power. With constant sun and consistent speed the solar panels and tow prop put out 9 amps even using the auto-pilot and fridge.
I am writing this on my back up lap-top, the primary one works the nav and mail systems with just the mouse. Clinton sends me two charts a day, and I get local wind forecasts each morning, so am very happy with the weather info. Each evening I check in to the Pacific SeaFarers Net on 14.3 megacycles to report my position and banter with the controller in Hawaii. I should be able to stay with them all the way across.
At present I am trying to catch the trades and head to 125 west to cross the ITCZ, so far I am right on course. Just me and a few curious seabirds.

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