Beach House Ship\’s Mini Blog & Position Report – NOT a standard day…..A Whale of a Tail…

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