It’s nearly midnight on Saturday and we are sailing along at a very good clip, sometimes more than 8kts. That’s pretty fast especially in the choppy ocean conditions that we have now. And, ocean conditions it is, as we are 450 miles from the nearest land and 600 miles from the US coast. We are really on our own, that’s for sure. If we were to get into trouble, the only real option would be to get help from a passing ship and there aren’t many around. We did have two come by today but they were too far to see as the closest they came to us was about 20 miles.
And, one thing about being out here by ourselves, is that it is critical that any problems be addressed while they are still manageable. When conditions are rough little problems can become big ones very quickly. For example, each morning we take a good look at the deck, lines and the sails to see that everything is in good shape. A small wrinkle in a sail that wasn’t there the prior evening can spell trouble and a little hole in a sail rubbed by another piece of hardware can lead to a major failure.
Yesterday Jim, one of my crew, was looking at the mainsail and noticed a small rip about 40′ up from the deck. We pulled the sail down and then realized that the “little” rip was actually a pretty big hole, nearly 10″ long. Fortunately, I had some adhesive sail repair cloth on hand which we applied on each side of the tear. I am pretty sure it will hold until we get to Tortola. Fingers crossed.
We also did some preparation for possible gale conditions expected Monday when we may encounter winds in the 30-40kt sustained range with gusts to 50. Even though the winds will be behind us, that’s a lot of wind. With that in mind, we spent time today rigging a third reef in the main which will allow us to reduce the mainsail area by about 75%. We were also having trouble getting good sail shape from the first reef which we have used for much of this trip so far. The problem was that the reef wasn’t flattening the sail enough so the boat was heeling much more than it should have and it made for a very uncomfortable ride. After about two hours of work today, everything seems to be in order.
Making sure that we are very well prepared will keep things from getting out of control when conditions get nasty. It’s particularly important when you consider that no one can come out to help get the boat to shore when we are this far from land. So, a problem that is easily fixed if we were a few miles from shore becomes a very big deal out in the “real” ocean.
And speaking of “remote” I can’t believe that I was able to send this text to Brenda via my SSB radio so she can post it to my blog. Amazing, actually.
So, we have been at sea for four days now and are half of the way to Tortola. And, as I write this we are barreling along in the dark hundreds of miles from anywhere. It’s different, that’s for sure.
With most of the “issues” resolved for now, it’s nice to know that we should have good sailing conditions for much of the rest of the trip, even though some of those miles may be “pretty sporty.” At least I can say that I am as prepared for a possible gale as I can be.
I am feeling pretty relaxed right now, or is it that I am just tired? Hmm… The last few days have been pretty stressful as I have had to sort out a number of problems and worry about the nasty weather we are heading toward and all the while wondering if we were prepared. There’s something about the word “gale” that tends to stress me out for some reason.
I guess it’s impossible to know but now I feel that we are as prepared as we can be. Fingers crossed that I’m right.
I hope that you have been able to follow our progress as I am using a new tracker that is pretty neat. It even allows you to click on an individual waypoint to see how fast we were going at that particular time. Cool, I think.
Wish us luck as we continue our way south. Thanks for “watching.”