Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 15 -- The Hangover After the Crossing Party!

Well, the celebrations after crossing the equator did not continue on Day 15. Home school was a major challenge, we had very sloppy seas pounding on the boat, and Barb was very grumpy (perhaps because of the first two). We got caught in a squall that punched a ton of rain and sloppy seas as well as upwards of 33 knots of wind. We managed through that fine given that we were reefed (shortened sail) on our main as well as on our jib. We turned away from the wind, moved to a deep broad reach which reduced pressure on the sails and boat, and worked our way through the squall. While a bit unnerving as it lasted for 45 minutes while I hand steered out in the storm to take some pressure off the autopilot, all was fine and the boat got a nice wash down. It is amazing how calm the winds become following a squall. For about an hour afterwards we had approximately 5-10 knots of breeze. Then another squall came on the horizon. We were able to maneuver around this one and avoid any of its wind or rain.

For the rest of the day, we were under 100% cloud coverage and took a beating with continued pounding from the waves coming from all different directions and in very short periods. For a catamaran, this means that sometimes one hull is lifted up and then the boat is literally tossed down hard. The sound is deafening, and things inside the boat do get thrown around, which, once again, is very rare for a cat. Sometimes the slap of large swells underneath the boat between the hulls is so intense that it literally throws things into the air - from the sink, the table, or while you're lying in bed.

Then, just after dinner, with the strain from the continued pounding and up and down tossing, our mainsail simply collapsed! Here's what happened: I had gone out to do my check and noticed the reefing lines lying on the deck. I thought somehow maybe one of those lines had torn, although this would be very unlikely. I looked up and saw that the mainsail had fallen down. We hadn't even heard it drop. It turns out the head board (the piece that reinforces the top of the sail where it attaches to the halyard) completely tore away from the sail. This means that the headboard and halyard are at the top of our mast. For Barb the good news is that I don't have any plans at this point to go up the mast to get the halyard or headboard until we are safely anchored in Hiva Oa. More good news is that, even with our mainsail now packed away in the boom, we are still making fair progress, but now only with our jib.

Not sure how the headboard could have torn, especially since it showed no signs of wear when I last examined it yesterday before hoisting the mainsail after our equator crossing. The only thing I can think of is that with the continued impact from these cross seas on the boat, the headboard/mainsail are what gave way. And, while I am confident this can and will get repaired, I am not yet sure how that will happen. Its a project and a half just removing the mainsail from the boom and mast (it weighs a ton and is huge in size) so hopefully we can find a way to repair it without removing the whole sail.

It is always something that catches you by surprise on a boat and while you can plan for all sorts of situations, you just never know what can happen. I can honestly say that I would never have expected that this would be the type of thing that would have broken. Its like our friends on another catamaran that had a spare autopilot (costly) and even picked up a spare batten (fiberglass rod that goes into the mainsail to help provide shape) (cumbersome) in case either of those broke, yet they lost a blade on one of their propellers and of course, did not have a spare for that! You just never know!

Anyhow, the sailing continues and we are now about 575 miles from making landfall. Looking forward to sleeping at anchor.


Day 15 Stats:
Distance: 168 miles; Total trip: 2316 miles; Average daily distance traveled: 154.4 miles
Average Speed: 7.0 knots; Average overall speed: 6.4 knots
Sea Conditions: Seas have been sloppy with 5-10 foot short period swells coming from all directions, making for a very uncomfortable ride -it's just plain jarring to the body. Cloudy all day with some squalls. Winds today were 10-15 knots from the ESE to SE, and then gusting up to 30 knots from the NE during the squall noted above.
Incident Report: (1) A couple of times a large wave would come over our bow and through the forward hatches in the salon, sending buckets of sea water into our 'snack well' (a well we use to store snacks and alcohol). As soon as we had it dried out, another wave would come. We finally learned our lesson after dousing #3 and closed the hatch. We do like the breeze that the open hatch gives us but for now we'll have to wait until the seas calm down to reopen them. (2) Squall (see above), with some water in bilges that will be drained out in the morning. (3) Mainsail SNAFU (see above).
Total fish caught: One fish.
Total Kitchen Garbage Bags Generated: Two.
Produce Inventory: Lost another orange.
Meals/Snacks: Breakfast was matzah with toppings plus hot apple cranberry farfel muffins (Danielle exclaimed, "Mom, they don't even taste like Passover!"), with cut up apples, pears and kiwis. Lunch was leftover cabbage rolls. Afternoon snack was more muffins. Dinner was vegetable soup (onions, potatoes, celery, carrots, cabbage)and spinach mushroom quiche (frozen spinach, canned mushrooms, plus onions and the last of our bell peppers).

P.S. Good thing you didn't place your bet for when we make landfall before the mainsail collapsed as we've now slowed down somewhat (by about a knot). As this blog is written, we have about 560 miles until landfall on Hiva Oa in the Marquesas Islands. It's now an even better time to place your bets on when we get there. Price Is Right Rules: The one who gets closest to the day and time without going over wins...
At 4/25/2011 10:13 (utc) our position was 02°36.08'S 132°42.23'W


  1. Zachary bets you will get to your destination on May 5th at 3:30 AM.
    Daniel bets you will get there on May 8th at noon. (he is less optimistic, as you lost your main sail, don't you know.)
    Maureen's bet is May 2 at 10:50 AM.
    Good luck!

  2. First, let me thank you for making our Passover so much easier; I just followed your meal plan, a day later. Even bought extra avocados to rot, so we could be in synch.
    I hope someone took a pic of Michael in the spandex outfit (see yesterday's blog).
    I'm sure you can't wait already to step foot onto land. My guess for your arrival - Friday April 29 2011, 8 am your time. May the winds blow your jib for smooth sailing!

  3. Glad I wasn't around with you on this stressful day. But happy to see that "All's well that ends well", thank goodness.