Settling into the Passage Home with Crazy Ivan

It’s the beginning of the third day of our passage from Tortola to New England and there’s not a lot to report except to say that there is still a very long way to go.  Yesterday we entered the convergence zone between two weather systems and the wind became a lot lighter.  This area also treated us to a large squall cell where the wind quickly shifted from the SE to NE.  That put an end to sailing and brought with it much choppier conditions and some rain.  It’s remarkable how different 20kts on the nose feels from that same amount of wind on the beam.  It’s the difference between uncomfortable and wet verses near perfect sailing.

As I write this it’s 07:00 and we are motor sailing and charging the batteries.  I am also taking advantage of the engine to run the watermaker.  We haven’t used much water since leaving but we all took showers in the cockpit yesterday and I also washed the cockpit down well this morning as there was a lot of spray going everywhere when we were in the squalls last night.  Yes, I am anal about salt but it’s just so much more pleasant when things aren’t salty. It’s also quite hot and sticky but noticeably cooler than it was in Tortola and during the first day out.

I mentioned yesterday, I think, that one of the two plotters stopped functioning and because of the way that the system is wired, we no longer have access to radar or our AIS.  We are still transmitting on AIS but we can’t see other boats on our plotter.  Fortunately, there hasn’t been much ship traffic to worry about but that will change as we get closer to the congested shipping lanes of Chesapeake Bay, the Delaware River and New York.

The autopilot is also acting up oddly as every so often, a few times a day, it just decides to head off in a totally different direction, pulling a sort of “crazy Ivan” maneuver, with no warning.  Experiencing a 180 degree crash turn, seemingly “just for fun” is really disarming and takes some of the relaxation out of the passage.  However, compared to other problems that we could have, it’s not too bad.  And, with the boom break in place to soften the blow of a “surprise” jibe, we aren’t at major risk of gear breakage from the autopilot maneuvers.  My last boat, with a very similar autopilot and plotter system, also had this problem and I was able to modify the settings on the computer to solve it.  I’ll call the tech support folks when I get home to sort this out.  Of course, the “dead” plotter will also have to go out for repair.  Let’s hope that they can fix the plotter as I don’t want to think about having to upgrade the entire system as they no longer make the particular model that we have.  Fingers crossed.

While I carry about 175 gallons of fuel, I don’t want to motor any more than we must as I want to be certain that we have plenty to use if we run into unfavorable winds later in the trip.  We continue to be in the convergence area between two weather systems, with little wind so we are motor-sailing but I am hopeful that we will get out of it later today and back into good sailing conditions.

In any event, the trip is coming together about as expected with some excitement but mostly, it’s been an easy run.  Not at all like my trip down in January and that’s good.

Well, I guess that’s about all I have to report for now.  There’s still plenty of miles left between us and home and we aren’t even half the way there.  The earliest that I expect to be home is likely not until about next Wednesday or Thursday.  Hard to say but that’s my best guess and a lot can happen between now and then, so fingers crossed that everything will continue to work out in our favor.

Yes, we are a long way from home, hundreds of miles from land but we are settling in to the passage.  So far, so good with a dead plotter, Crazy Ivan and all.

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