Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Darwin: an act of kindness

        I did row ashore yesterday.  The desire for a long shower, a cold beer, and fresh food was too strong, although I almost didn’t get the last.
  The row of .8 of a nautical mile took forty long minutes against fourteen knot wind and chop.  There was no glide to the Avon.  Stroke.  Slam into wavelet. Dead stop.  Stoke.  I gained about one foot/.3 of a meter per stroke.  I wore my passage t-shirt and shorts, believing correctly that they and I would be soaked.
  Finally at land’s edge, I picked up the dinghy and carried it up the narrow beach to tie it to a rock.  Because of the tides, a half dozen other dinghies with outboards were anchored in shallow water, hopefully not to be left too high and dry when the tide went out.
I had a long shower, and it was wonderful, changed into clean, dry clothes, and went to the club office to sign in.  For $11 US I was granted use of the facilities, but learned that the restaurant had just stopped serving lunch for the day.  One of the two ladies in the club office offered me the last half of her lunch chicken wrap, which had been sliced in two as wraps often are and which she said she was not going to eat.  I declined, but when she insisted, I accepted, got a beer from the bar, and enjoyed her gift at one of the club’s outdoor shaded tables.  I really did want something fresh and her gratuitous generosity made it all the better.  I will pass her kindness forward sometime, somewhere.  Perhaps I will even try to do so often.
The row out to GANNET was downwind and took only twenty minutes.
Back on GANNET I raised the mainsail and the anchor and moved the little boat .2 of a mile closer to shore.  
The anchor came up easily in what was eleven knots of wind.  I checked the wind display just before I went forward.  I didn’t need to stow the rode or anchor.  We weren’t going far.  
Within two hundred yards/meters, after strong wind all day, the wind died completely, leaving us drifting in a worse location than that from which we had started.  Wind returned; but come on.  Everything doesn’t have to be an ordeal.
Today I rowed in for lunch and made it in 25 minutes.  Ten minutes were reduced by our closer position and five by facing less wind.
Another shower, lunch of a barramundi burger and a beer, and a half mile walk to the nearest grocery store where I bought some juice, tonic, a lemon, a bottle of wine, a bar of chocolate, a tube of Superglue to repair a loose eye-glass frame, and saw Laphroaig 10 year for a reasonable price of $52 US.  The voyage can go on.
There is no modest way to say this, but I saw myself in the club shower mirror, and I am ripped.  You want to get in shape, sail a small boat a couple of thousand miles, anchor and raise anchor by hand, row, eat and drink less than normal, and throw in nights of broken sleep.  All but my legs.  Not having been off GANNET for four weeks, my legs are weak.  Pumping up the Avon was hard, as was walking a half mile, partly up hill, to the grocery.  They will come back.

I did research online this morning for a replacement for the most recently dead Aurinco solar panel and placed an order for two SP 50 Q Solbain panels.  These are the only ones of the right size for the area near the tiller.  For my fellow Americans they are 23.6” by 21.5”, only slightly larger than the Aurinco panels, but rated at 50 watts instead of 25.  If accurate and they last, GANNET will have ample solar charging.
I plan to replace both the Aurinco stern panels with the Solbain, keeping the functional Aurinco as a spare and throwing the dead one in the trash which it is.

The first Raymarine tiller pilot may have died.  It is no longer responding to port changes, either to the buttons on the unit or the remote.  This might be a little surprising, considering that the unit has had a cover, not been subject to severe weather or a lot of water coming over the deck, and not been used all that much.  I have proof of purchase and will get it repaired under warranty somewhere, but don’t have enough time here.
The Pelagic will get its opportunity on the passage to South Africa.
And I have sheet to tiller.
        I slept well last night and am no longer a weary old sailor.  Just old.