Antigua here we come. Day one done…
It’s mid-day on Monday and we have been at sea for a little more than 24 hours. I don’t have a lot to report beyond that it’s been mostly uneventful.
We picked up our anchor at 07:00 on Sunday and headed out to sea along with quite a few other boats in the rally. It seems that a good number of them left about 12 hours earlier than we did and when I spoke to a few of them on the SSB radio this morning they reported that they had been sailing most of the way since leaving Hampton.
I wish that was the case for me as we have found ourselves motoring much of the way in little wind, about half of the time, more than I’d like.
Chris Parker, the weather router advising us on this trip, has said that the winds this year are likely to be pretty light for much of the trip. That’s unfortunate, as we will have to balance the need to keep moving in light conditions with a need to conserve fuel. In spite of the fact that I carry a nominal 170 gallons, I doubt that I can actually use much more than 130-150 gallons, with the rest stuck below the fuel pickup in the tanks.
I keep careful track of hourly consumption throughout the year and am pretty confident that I can move along at a decent clip under power, using about .65gal/hour. That’s not bad and I can likely stretch things even more if I run even slower.
I can generally motor/sail at about 6.5 to 7kts at that consumption level as long as there is some wind to fill the sails and am not motoring directly. This translates into somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 miles. As Antigua is around 1,600 miles from Hampton, I can afford to motor quite a bit of the way.
However, I’d much prefer to sail as it’s a lot more pleasant and for every gallon of fuel that I burn early in the trip, I have a lot less flexibility when I am close to my destination.
The conditions in the often dreaded Gulf Stream have turned out to be pretty benign with a bit of a chop, as expected, but not much more to report. That’s a lot different than they were a few days ago when there were gales pushing up huge waves, something that we really need to avoid.
While conditions are pretty calm, the one thing that has proven to be a bit bothersome is the watermaker which isn’t working properly. I had some problems with it earlier in the season when the computer that monitors it malfunctioned and I thought that I had it fixed. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to properly test the unit until I was out in clean water yesterday morning. A few hours out of Hampton I fired it up and it seemed to be working fine but after about an hour it went into a backflush mode, out of the blue, and dumped nearly half of my fresh water overboard. After messing around with it to see if I could figure out what the problem is, I decided to just shut it down and wait until today to resume my diagnostic efforts.
I am afraid that nothing has changed and as soon as I turned it on it again began pumping my water tanks dry. Not good.
Fortunately, over the summer when problems first cropped up, I installed some backup plumbing so I could run it in manual mode, just in case I had a problem like this with the computer again. I am really happy that I did as we would have been down to about fifty gallons to last us for the entire trip which would have made for a real hardship.
I have no idea what is causing the problem with the computer and I guess all I can do is to pull it out and take it back to the US when I return for the holidays. Perhaps they can tell me what’s wrong.
The good news is that I can run the unit in manual mode, which I did today, so now our tanks are full again.
So, there you have it, another day and another problem to be sorted out. It’s surely always something with a boat, especially one as complex as Pandora.
Oh yeah, am also trying to get a handle on my new Hydrovane self steering system, and I have to say that’s turning out to be a steeper learning curve than expected.
So, here we are about 200 miles into our trip and things are going pretty well.
I guess that’s about all I have to report.
Wish us luck.