22 April 2012 12:14:00 PM AEST

Uncategorized Send feedback »

Power..power..power. Just when I think I am whittling down the power deficit, I get a day of light winds and clouds. Neither the solar panels or the tow generator is putting out at its' best. I am down to having to shut off the refrigerator each night. One thing I learned about meals. Over five nights a month ago I made 5 casseroles, a total of thirty meals. This is fine for variety, but when you get to the end, things start to go off. I am now just rotating betwee two six meal dishes, a mashed potato salmon loaf, and a tuna pasta casserole. This Saturday I expect to arrive at Niue, a small island at 170 W and 19S, New Zealand administered, for a few days break. You can read about the place on www. niueisland.com If I get winds, I should get there Saturday, but then again. After Niue Sydney is 2300 miles, about 3 weeks or less, again depending on the winds. I am now 600 miles from Niue. The attraction to me is that it is unlike most of the other islands in this part of the Pacific. It does not have a lagoon, an atoll, or a reef. I can get a mooring on the west side of the island.. calm seas. And it is reputed to be a spectacular place. And I can top up the fuel tanks cause they use NZ currency. About 12 miles by 6 or so, it has great caves and diving., so read about it. Today is a slow wind day, but we should nearly make a hundred miles.

21 April 2012 12:39:00 PM AEST

Uncategorized Send feedback »

Passed the 4000 mile mark, Sydney is now less than 3000 miles away. The winds have been ngood the last few days and we are making over 100 miles daily. And with the speed and sunny days, the power deficit is gradually being whittled down. We have passed Rarotonga to the south, and expect to pass Palmerston Island in the next two days. Daytime I spend calculating whether the big cumulus rain clouds are going to come over and get me. Today there was one right at sunup, so I just reffed in the genoa to slow us up and let it pass. As sunset arrives, there are few around, bodding well for a starry night and a chance to sleep a bit more. The French Met chart Clinton sent me forecast 15 knot winds for today in my area, and guess what?? It happened.

19 April 2012 2:57:00 PM AEST

Uncategorized 1 feedback »

.
.
.

This is my 44th day, I am hoping/guessing/wishing to get to Sydney in another 25 days. But that would mean making an average of 120 miles a day, since I am within a whisker of 3000 miles to go. It is attainable, but only if there are winds, and so far, this has been my biggest frustration. Where are the #@$%^# winds I ask? There is nothing so enervating than drifting, and listening to the main flap and snap. Even though there may only be a faint whiff of air, each time the boat rolls, the mast moves through a wide arc. Going this way, the sail luffs this way. Rolling back the other way, the sail tries to do an imitation of a whip, striving top really make a 'crack' as the sail snaps over. If you have enough of this, the sail rips at the slide points. Before I discovered what was happening, a few of the boom sliders had either broken, or ripped out. Most were easy to fix, slide a new connector in from the end, undo the first good one, and slide it along, and soon you have put in new sliders. But where the eyelet has ripped out, there is no way to fix it without proper sail repair tools. I once saw a needle and some thread among my tangle of spares, but to fix it right, I nd to stitch in pieces of canvas. And I don't hav a swing machin. What I hav had to rsort to, is to rf th main. Th first ref point is only a foot, but by reefing it down, and reefing the point at the end of the boom, when the sail takes a crack, the reef line at the back takes most of the strain. Live and learn. But the onews on the mast are different. You don't realize that they are taking the strain too. After the hassle with the rain squall, on the mast, I was only able to replace one broken slider. I now have two points where the eyelets have ripped through the canvas and there is no slider at that point. One is the first batten, where there were two sliders, one above and one below the batten, and now there are none. I had to take the batten out as it tore through at a previous repair point that I had not noticed before, and was threatening to rip all along the batten lines. The missing slides on the mast don't seem to make much difference, when we are sailing. When the sail fills, and I tighten the halyard, the line along the mast seems complete, slider or no slider. But there are still 3000 miles to go. And the damn winds keep dropping. When the winds die enough so that the main flaps, I drop it, and that means we drift. Like yesterday, all afternoon, we just bobbed about. I try to be philosophical about it, I'll get there when I get there, but it takes it's toll on your nerves and stress levels. The bigger worry, is power. If we don't have sailing winds, we don't get any power generated by the towed propeller. On top of that, it has been overcast the past few days, so the solar panels don't put out enough power. Gradually the deficit grows. This morning it was -210 amp hours, in the orange, and getting near to flat. So I wished/hoped/prayed for winds and sun today. Last night, from about six, we got enough of a breeze to sail, making four knots, and it stayed steady all night. But still the nav lights, the fridge, and the auto pilot eat power, and we dropped an additional 50 amp hours overnight. The painful part is that I have a wind vane to steer with. But it needs a certain amount of wind to function. And we are just not getting enough, forcing me to use the auto-pilot. This morning the clouds are not the massive cumulus rain busters of previous days. Luckily they are small puffy clouds. But they still block the sun and interfere with the solar panel output levels. But at least we have sun, and while we are just barely making four knots, enough to spin tha generator, we are reducing the deficit slightly. Probably tonight when it gets dark I will have to motor for two hours, reducing deficit creation time by two hours, and lowering the deficit by about 60 amps. It seems so lone since I heard the generator whirring at full speed. Rain squalls don't count. They make us go so fast that the propeller skips out of the water every once in a while. But it is a nice sound when the generator is whirring and throbbing at top speed, really putting out the amps. It take at least three and a half knots of movement before the generator starts spinning, and at that speed, it does not generate a lot of power. But at five anc above, it throbs, and with the fridge turned up high, the auto pilot working hard and me using the radio and computer, we still can be generating ten amps above consumption. I think it was David Winter from Gambol who suggested that another source of power can be the main prop from the boat. Because I leave the transmission in neutral, the prop can spin, when we are going at reasonable speed it is whirring along. David suggested rigging a belt along the spinning shaft and rigging it to another alternator so that under way, I would have another source of power generation. I am certainly going to check that out when I get over this voyage. That is, IF I get to where I want to go. The other thing that makes your stress levels rise, is when you feel the boat slowing, the main starts luffing, and you face another day of drifting. Why am I being punished like this? Have I been such a bad boy, or has someone put a hex on me? I am going to calculate the number of days without wind when I do get to Oz, and I bet it will shock a lot of people. Last night on the net, a vessel 180 miles south of me and 180 miles west reported being struck by a whale, and cautioned those following to be wary of a pod of cantankerous whales. Just saw my first traqffic for weeks, a slow moving tanker headed north, no AIS and no response to radio greeting. Till tomorrow.

18 April 2012 11:22:00 AM AEST

Uncategorized Send feedback »

.
.
.
Beaten up by a rain squall.
I guess I became a bit complacent about equatorial rain clouds. I had experienced a few nasty ones near Guadalupe Island off Baja, where they really scared me, but near the equator, they seemed a bit tame. Only once, north of 10 north, I hit a good windy rain cloud, but it came right up our tail, and we had following winds, so while it was some fast running, I felt in control. Once south of the equator, the rain clouds seemed rather tame. They would dump a bit of rain on you, and bring a bit of wind which was always welcome. Hitting 5 or 6 knots after drifting was satisfying. I even got so that I enjoyed the cooling from the cloud and rain, and of course the bit of wind they brought. But yesterday was different. In the late afternoon, drifting again, I noticed that on three sides of me there was solid rain. I was heading into a U, going west, and when I checked out the storms to the south, they seemed to be heading west along with me. There was quite a bit of lightning to the south, with constant rolling thunder, but it was a fair distance off. To the north, it was just solid rain, and to the west also. So I didn't get excited about these clouds, massive though they were. Until a sneaky small one came up from behind and started dumping some rain on us. As it brought with it a bit of wind, and we were soon up to 5 and 6 knots, I felt good to be moving. So I buttoned up the hatch and turned on the radio to check my email, and get the latest chart from Clinton. This took about half an hour, and when I poked my head out the hatch, I could see that we were soon going to merge with the clouds and rain either ahead or to the north west. Again it didn't look bad, so I didn't think of reefing at all. Soon it really poured and I closed the hatch again. Our speed picked up, and soon we were hitting 7 or 8 knots., but nothing to worry about. We were soon racing along, and as I looked ou of the forward windows I could not see an end to the rain anyhwhere. I thought to myself, that it was a good thing that I had secured all the lines, because at that speed it would not be a nice thing to have something get loose. Just then it happened, the sheets on the genoa and pole ripped loose, and the pole and sail began a mad flapping and banging about. Up in the cockpit I hauled in on the sheet, as much as I could, and then went below, satisfied that I had solved the problem. Looking out the forward hatch, I could see that I had only pulled in half the line, the genoa was acting like a spinnaker, and we went even faster. Thinking that I should have reefed earlier, I got a bit nervous, but for twenty minutes I looked out of the forward windows and watched us plunge into the waves, and race along. Then we suddenly mtook a lurch and things sounded different. Opening the hatch, I found that the main had been backed, the winds were now blowing us sideways, and the rain was coming almost vertical. Oh oh, I have to reef now. But the minute I released the halyard, the fierce wind used the loose sail at the foot to ri[p off the slider stay at the bottom of the slide, and then zipped out all of the sail in seconds as they slides came out and the sail went flying. Because I had taken the halyard to the cockpit for single handing, it does not come all the way down, so about five feet of sail, on only one car stayed on the rail. The rest of the sail from the boom went straight out over the side and looped back to the remaining bit still held by the halyard. This was like a horizontal spinnaker, and it pulled the boat over, heeling us and plunging all over the ocean. Here was the big problem that could really put the trip in jeopardy. Nothing to do but rescue the sail.. if I could, so I headed up on deck on the windward side and tried to wrestle with the flaying sail. This was really the fight of my life, the wind was so strong, the rain so intense, and the whipping of the sail threatened to flick me overboard. In the cockpit, I found a back reef line dangling over the dodger, so I hauled it in and tied it to a winch handle. Then I crawled to the mast, and began trying to pull in some canvas.
after some time, when I was despairing of doing anything, I accidentally got ahold of the second reef point on the sail, found a line that I was using as a spare preventer, looped it through the metal reef point and around a cleat to pull it tight. I did the same with the third reef point with the same line, and soon I had a third of the sail secured. Next I had to just take handfulls of canvas, pull them in, and twist them around the boom vang lines, getting a handful at a time, losing some, getting it back, and then I was able to find another line, loop it around the bit of sail that I had, threw it over the boom, and pulled tight. This got me some relief, but the rain was so intense I could not see, and I would have to stick my head beneath the sail just for some respite. After getting a few more loops around the boom, I had pulled in quite a bit os sail, the rest was still flapping, but not out to sea. Crawling back to the cockpit, I got two bungee cords, and then back at the boom, I stood up, fought to get some sail under my arms, and finally got on a bungee cord. Moving a few feet back, I got the second one on, and then crawled back and went below to towel off, thrilled that I had secured the sail. As I got my breath back, I heard a bang, and realized that the genoa pole was banging first the spreader stay, then the forestay, wham, wham, so out I went, and fought to get the pole down and secured amongst all the various lines that cluttered the deck now. Then it was back to towel off again and recuperate, even though we were still out of control, and the wind was fiercer than ever. I don't remember when I had furled the sail. When I could, I started up the engine, and pointed the boat at the only bit of blue sky I could see, now to the southwest, just to get the hell out of there. At six, we were out of the rain, and at 730 after reporting in to the net, I set the genoa and tried to sail on just that sail. Later I added a whisker pole to the jib, but the winds had died and we hardly made a mile all night, conscious of the spectacular lightning display to the north. By 945 in the morning I had the main back up, after replacing the travellers that were missing, with the exception of two that had ripped out, and was trying to find a breath of wind to go somewhere. Now though I watch ever damn cloud and spend most of my time calculating if we are going to intersect. About 11 this morning we started getting close to a particularly bad looking black mother, so I third reefed the main, pulled in the genoa on the pole until it was just a little handkerchief, we slowed, and luckily the storm moved on ahead of us. Right now, we are back to 2 knots, hitting maybe fifty miles today, and getting weary of the day to day drifting and no wind. The gribs promise 15 knot winds from the east from midnight for three days, so we will see. Wish you were here.

17 April 2012 11:40:00 AM AES

Uncategorized Send feedback »

.
.
.

Slowly, slowly, oh so slowly, that's how it seems to me. We are back to 53 and 80 miles a day, with gentle breezes wafting us along at 3 to 4 knots. And it has been overcast for two days, which means that the solar panels are not putting out their full charge. With the slow speeds, the tow generator is also underperforming. Last night the poser deficit has climbed to -207, just as evening began. Facing a fairly substantial drop during the night, I decided to motor for two hours to reduce the amp deficit a bit. In darkness, with the fridge turned up high, the nav lights on, and auto doing the driving, we motored at six knots, bringing the amp hour reading to -140. By this morning it was back to -198, and with not a lot of sunshine, nor good generator output, I hesitate to look at it. If we don't get up to speed for a good day, I will have to run the engine again, just to keep the limit within bounds. One of the things I have noticed about the voyage, is how I seem to have set a series of mental waypoints to look forward to. The first was reaching one thousand miles, which was not too hard. The second was getting across the equator, which was hard, and the third was passing the Marquesas. Each target seemed to take forever to reach. The Marquesas just sat there beyond our reach for so long, that I eventually motored for a whole day just to get past them. There I saw my first land for 3000 miles, a rocky islet that looked a bit like Uluru, or from another viewpoint, like Gibraltar. And it seemed to take a whole day just to get the place out of sight. This put us on a course direct for Tahiti, through the Tuamotos. With such unreliable winds I did not fancy trying to wend my way through the lagoons, reefs and other messy features looking for the right path. I marked out a spot at 15 degrees south and 150 west, drew a line from where we were, and decided not to go south of that line, staying above it would mean keeping out of the Tuamotos. The next day, instead of sailing southwest, I switched to go northwest, just to give us more room. At the end, we went back ten miles north, but achieved 23 miles westing, making the line a bit easier to achieve. The winds, such as they were then took us mostly west, and a few points south, so the Tuamotos were out of the picture. We crossed 150 at 12 degrees and a bit, and I expect we will hit 155 at roughly 14 degrees south, starting out passage through the Cook Islands. They last until 160, when we will probably be at 15 degrees south, missing Samoa, and on a course for Tonga, nearly a thousand miles on. We were directly north of Bora Bora, and still have a hundred fifty miles to exit French Polynesia. Passing the half way point to Sydney, my new destination instead of Brisbane, was the next milestone, and I suppose hitting four thousand miles.. only a few days away, if we get some wind, will be a psychological high. But imagine, still 3000 miles to go even then. I am now counting down the days, this is day 42 out with 27 to go. But these are not plans. Like someone in Mazatlan said, cruisers don't have plans, just hopes and expectations. I hope to make those miles in that time. but of course something can crop up to change the 'plans' and I just have to say, 'oh well, not today, maybe tomorrow'. In many ways making such slow progress is depressing. I feel like I am some character in literature, doomed to spend his days looking for winds on an endless ocean. It certainly is endless. There has been no sign of other vessels for many weeks. The AIS found two freighters outside of Mazatlan the first day or so, but they were fifty miles away. And it has not found any since, although I saw two freighters and two fishing boats, neither of which had AIS, in the first ten days of so. So it is a vast, empty endless, unchanging place, just the shapes of the clouds to look at, the daily rain clouds in the distance that I watch to plot whether they will intersect with us or not, and the odd one that catches us and brings a bit of wind. I have only four weeks left I reckon, and I have planned my menu, just four dishes of six meals each., plus a few tins of beans or soup. I bought rice, and have hardly used any of it, and I seem to have overstocked on beans, both the tinned and the raw kind. And I will have 8 or 9 packets of pasta left when I get there. I am not planning to eat all the tines of fruit cocktail I have, and all the juices, which are really enjoyable. The nicest thing every morning is a cold glass of Mexican grapefruit juice that really hits the spot. For some reason, the few bars of dark Hershey's chocolate I bought don't seem to get eaten, nor the hot chocolate, or the popcorn. My peanuts all went soft, and so did the rice crackers., trying to reheat them in the oven only melted them and the peanuts were not any good at all.

Contact. ©2018 by andyaye. Social CMS software.
Design & icons by N.Design Studio. Skin by Tender Feelings / Evo Factory.