Wednesday, April 19, 2017

St. Lucia: half the world with two stops

A rainy morning in St. Lucia where I arrived yesterday after a  relatively easy and slow five week passage from St. Helena.  The rain has me trapped in a chaotic Great Cabin in neither passage nor harbor mode.  I planned to clean and organize it, but need to have the hatches open.  Still, better rain today than yesterday.

The day’s runs from St. Helena add up to 3859 miles, the second longest passage GANNET has made.  In the little over two months since we sailed from Durban, the little boat has crossed another ocean and covered 6423 miles.  

Even more pleasing because it wasn’t planned, but serendipitous, is that we have sailed more than half the world from Darwin, Australia to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia with only two stops:  Durban and St. Helena.  Anchored at Darwin, Australia at 130º49’E, we are now at 60º57’W.  That is more than 191º of longitude.  We have also swung from 12ºS latitude to 35ºS, then up to 14ºN.  Daily runs from Darwin to St. Lucia total 12,337 miles, and her miles since leaving San Diego 22,016.  Not bad for a little boat intended to day race around buoys. 

Much of the passage was slow and dry.  More than usual I was able to stand in the companionway, sit on deck and sail with the forward hatch open.  However on this, GANNET’s second crossing of the Equator and my fifteenth, we were seriously slowed by the doldrums where we had by far GANNET’s slowest week ever of 458 miles.  Her previous slowest was 678.  The Moore 24 Southern Hemisphere Fleet went out of existence at 1235 on April 1.

While I often used sheet to tiller steering, the Pelagic steered through some severe conditions, including torrential rain that felt as though we were sailing under a waterfall.  I still use the remaining Raymarine at times because it is quieter than the Pelagic, but the Pelagic has steered perfectly though weather that would have killed a Raymarine.  I am very impressed.

I am pleased with the spray hood fitted in Durban.  It succeeded in keeping some water out of the boat and unexpectedly also was useful as a sun screen and wind scoop.

An expensive fiasco came when the shackle let go at the tack of the G2 when I went to furl it.  This was my fault for not seizing the shackle, which I routinely do but obviously didn’t in this case.  The sail, still connected at the head and by sheets, streamed horizontally ahead of us.  I managed to get it down and back on board without dumping it in the sea, but not before one of the sheets caught around the Velocitek, plucked it from its mast bracket and tossed it overboard.

There was other damage.  The two remaining Aurinco solar panels died, bringing their failure rate to a perfect 9 for 9.  The two Solbian panels provided enough charge with judicious use of sheet to tiller steering.  

The Raymarine masthead wind unit stopped sending wind speed after being immersed in a masthead in the water knockdown.  It is still sending wind angle, particularly useful with sheet to tiller.

And yesterday the Torqeedo battery died and I had to be towed into the marina.  Normally I would have anchored outside, but I want to be in the marina because Carol is flying here Saturday for a week.

The battery was showing 99% charge when I started to power in.  Then a few minutes later 4% and it died.  I’ve tried to recharge it and suspiciously it shows 100% charge after less than an hour, when it should take more than eight hours for a full charge.  These batteries are hazardous material and can’t be taken on airplanes, so I may be engineless until I reach Florida.

The plan is to sail from here to the Virgin Islands after Carol’s visit, then to Florida where I will lay the little boat up and return to the flatlands for a while.  Time and chance permitting, I’ll sail from Florida to Panama and then to San Diego to complete the voyage next spring.

I have many character defects, a known one is that when I get close to the bottom of a bottle I think I might just as well finish it, only to discover that after I’ve poured, there is twice as much as a usual drink in the glass.  Thus, last evening with the end of passage Laphroaig.  Careful experimentation has proven that trying to pour from the glass back into the bottle results in shameful wastage.  Once poured, there is only one reasonable course, which I followed.

The photo is of a hitchhiker.  I had several, all of whom being pelagic and not exposed to our species were fearless and persistent.  I actually prefer this photo.

The passage log will  be uploaded soon.  

I took videos, and while the Internet connection here is good, I think video uploads will be too slow.