TIME: 2016/05/12 18:04
LATITUDE: 10-34.33S
LONGITUDE: 131-55.48W
SPEED: 6.5
BARO: 1014.1
COMMENT: Beach House – En Route – Marquesas Islands – Day 16 – 165 nm

Housekeeping: Nikki is getting her emails on my email address from friends and family. She thanks you.

Yesterday, we got fooled (well, I did). Nikki asked me about a very wide looking squall with rain in it just after I had shaken the reef and went back to a full mainsail. I said, “looks like rain, but not much more”. We turned on the radar and indeed, it looked quite benign. Nikki wasn’t so sure….
Nikki was right. The rain hit and within 30 seconds we had 40 knots of wind! We rolled up the head sail and we’re truly sleigh riding fast, too fast hitting 15 knots briefly. This was not a good thing. I then went forward to reef, but the reefing pendant had parted in the gust. Ride the wild pony we did. After 10 minutes, the wind abated to 35 knots for another 20 minutes. Then finally back down in the mid 20’s. Lesson learned – yet again! (Maybe never!???)

This was indeed the wind shift we’d been expecting and we actually “tack/gybed”. Instead of putting our stern through the wind which is trickier in handling the mainsail, we did a 270 degree turn and headed off to the ENE from our previous heading of SW. Nikki handled the sail controls while I powered us around in a circle. We’ve been on starboard tack (wind on our right), ever since.

Two nights ago, the steering failed and we had quite the sail drill drama as we wrote yesterday. Last night, we had a mini version of the same event, but fortunately not as bad.

With a first quarter moon, we can see the water in front of us and while I was on watch, I noted the steering was starting to slip again. We had at the time a reef in the main and our genoa poled out to starboard. I thought I would be able to wait for Nikki to come up on watch, but just then the rudder failure alarm went off and the steering packed it in again. This time, the boat did an un-intentional gybe which can be quite disastrous. The wind got on the wrong side of the mainsail and started to spin us around. I quickly called Nikki and started the port engine. I was able to power our way back on course with the now very difficult steering system all over the place. Nikki was able to fight the wheel and keep us on some sort of course while I went aft to fix the problem. This time however, it was due to the starboard ram’s being “locked” against it’s rudder stop. It was quickly cleared and we’ve been checking the rudder ever since about every 3 hours. I will need to adjust it when done with this report.

Because of the dicey steering issue, we are sailing with reefed main only now after dark. We set the head sail in the daylight so if a failure occurs we can deal with it easier. We will furl it before dark. This will likely slow our arrival at Fatu Hiva down by around a good 1/2 to a full day. So instead of just under 18 days, we’ll likely be somewhat under 19.

The weather is cooperating so far today, we had a lovely pleasant night after the sail/steering drill. The wind has allowed us for now to sail directly to our destination, but that will likely change a bit as the day wears on.
It all comes under the general heading of, “Stuff Occurs”. Just another thing to fix in Tahiti.

We’ve 395 miles to go.
All is well despite the issues.
Scott and Nikki

TIME: 2016/05/11 18:06
LATITUDE: 10-42.18S
LONGITUDE: 129-13.80W
SPEED: 7.9
BARO: 1014.3
COMMENT: Beach House – En Route – Marquesas Islands – Day 15 – 190 nm (550 nm to go!)

***Housekeeping Note: Nikki’s computer got the “blue screen of death” and as such her direct email is now out of commission.
You can write her at my email and she will return emails when we get internet ashore.***

Whew! Where do I begin. We were really busting the miles yesterday and got a bit fooled by our weather files. I know from experience that the GRIB Files (which are computer generated wind models of the oceans) UNDERestimate the wind speed by 3-5 knots. Two days ago however, they were exactly correct, so I got lulled into thinking maybe they’d changed the model? NOPE! Last night, I would normally have believed we would have had 23-25 knots, but the weather said “18-20”. So, I kept too much sail up and we were saved by serendipity.

At 2 a.m. local time (always after mid-night!), Nikki got me up and said the wind was pumping up to 27 knots occasionally so we took in the reef. This however really wasn’t enough and we should have taken our reacher down at sundown and gone to the smaller and far more manageable genoa. Hind sight is a wonderful thing isn’t it?

At about 3 a.m., our hydraulic steering failed (read that as very bad!). The boat rounded up beam to the wind and sea -then the reacher sounded like it would tear itself to shreds. Temporarily, I thought I had the steering under control – NOT! Nikki and I tried to roll the reacher up, but the boat just went back to beam on instead of allowing our mainsail to blanket it. I got it half way rolled up and then the entire furler unit on the bottom became knotted up.

Nikki came forward and we began to lower the halyard (line that keeps the sail up in the air). When we got it half way down, the rest of the sail filled and it went overboard. So here’s the picture. It’s 3:15 a.m. no moon, pitch black, big seas, steering out and big sail in the water. Are we having fun yet?…

The good news was that the boat was extremely well behaved (Miss Piggy always saves us!). With the sail on the downwind side and blanketed, we were able to retrieve it because I had tied a “Figure of Eight Knot” in the halyard, which prevented the sail from going under water as the halyard didn’t just run out of the mast. The sail, with halyard attached, was dragging along side us on the surface. We slowly got it back aboard and stuffed it down the starboard forward locker. Now we had a reefed main up and no steering. Essentially, we were “hove too” the wind and seas and fortunately in then pretty good shape.

Next I went to investigate the steering in the port engine room. For whatever reason, our steering ram in the big seas and waves essentially slipped. How this happened is a mystery. Hydraulics are very strong. I doubt we had air in the system as the fluid levels were normal. The steering rams are pretty new as well – replaced when we were in Florida. This caused the rudder to be hard over but have no effect on controlling the boat. We re-centered it and locked it back down, now we were back under control.

Everything behaved properly and we continued on with a single reef and no head (front) sail for the next 3 hours. At 6:30 a.m. (first light), I unrolled the genoa to windward on the pole and all has been well since. We’ve had a few squalls and winds were up to 30 knots very briefly.

We are 550 miles from Fatu Hiva and heading somewhat south of the island. We will likely gybe (go the other direction with the sails) sometime today?

This morning, around 8 a.m. I saw a 40 foot whale 35 feet from the boat heading in the opposite direction. The Whale was going up wind, we were going downwind. I suspect it just came close to see what this big noisy thing was? I have a pamphlet that describes the whales tails and dorsal fins.
I’m not sure of course, but it seemed it might have been a small Sperm Whale?

So, it’s still blowy out here, we feel fortunate that no damage was done and that we got the steering fixed and the sail back aboard.

Welcome to Cruising!…
More tomorrow, Hoping for a “Pretty Standard Day”….:-)
Scott and Nikki

TIME: 2016/05/10 18:00
LATITUDE: 09-49.81S
LONGITUDE: 126-07.61W
SPEED: 8.1
BARO: 1014.7
COMMENT: Beach House – En Route – Marquesas Islands – Day 14 – 170 nm

Many have asked how the data for the position reports is input. The program we send our email with (Airmail 2000), takes a 10 minute average of all the data it sees on our instruments. Lat/Long which is input instantaneously and everything below the Wind_Dir is manually entered.

We’ve really had a fabulous trip so far. The sail plan we’re using has just been so easy to deal with. Our big reacher on the pole to weather hasn’t been touched in 4 days! If the wind comes up over 22 knots, we reef the main, if it drops to 20 for any period of time, we just raise it back to full.

Last night we expected much more wind by this morning than we have. The weather files predicted about 20-24 knots, but so far, it’s been 17-22 and not much of the 22. We did see a 24 knot gust earlier, but it didn’t last more than a minute or two. We did get a rain squall last night, so at 2:30 a.m. local time we put the reef in expecting the bigger wind. Nope, so far, pretty much a nice strong, but very manageable wind and sea.

On the morning radio net, many of the monohulls were telling us about the lack of rest and tough ride they’re having. The nature of their boats is to roll much more than the multihulls and have a deeper and longer motion. They’re are swells out here from multiple directions and as such, it can mimic a washing machine at some times. “Beach House” (aka: Miss Piggy) just hasn’t had that experience this trip, our 12th of over 1500 miles. Frankly, it’s been a breeze.

We seem to have a bit more wind than most of the other boats at the moment as we’re somewhat south of the main group. We heard there are 34 boats in Hiva Oa! I have no idea how that many boats could possibly fit in that anchorage (I’ve been there twice before with only 4 boats at most!).

We are likely to head directly toward Fatu Hiva (the island 45 miles south of Hiva Oa). This is the island made famous by the late anthropologist, Thor Heyerdahl who wrote a book of the same title about his experience there 60 years ago. The reasons we’ll head there first are two fold. First, it’s mostly because of the crowd in Hiva Oa (about 12 more boats will arrive there shortly!) and the fact that our suspect engines might make it difficult to motor back up wind to Fatu Hiva which can be a tough ride from Hiva Oa.

Mostly an un-eventful day, but believe me, we don’t mind in the least.
We’ve 725 miles to go. Per the instruments, just under 4 days.
That’s it for now,
Please feel free to drop an email our way.
Scott and Nikki,