Galapagos to the Marquesas Passage, Days #1-3

Dear F&F,
May 31 – June 3, 2009

I am writing on Tuesday June 2nd. We are so busy you would not believe it. Day #1 Sunday we had 5 sail changes. Monday Day #2 we flew the spinnaker all day & night but 2 things broke, the after guy line and the water tow generator. Mike was on watch when he noticed the spinnaker flying up too high. The line that holds it down & toward the windward side had chafed through completely. We have a safety line on it, so there was no noise or panic. I scurried to the cabin where Scott was reading & gave him the report: \”The after guy has broken\”. He looked at me unbelieving. His past experience has been that this is a rather catastrophic event. I told him what Mike had observed & he came up to see for himself. Scott was quite pleased that his \”belts & suspenders\” rigging made this a no worry fix. In no time, he and Mike re-tied the after guy line & lead it to prevent recurring chafe. Chafe is a sailor\’s nemesis & we are discovering all the places that need to be checked frequently or re-rigged to avoid lines wearing through like this.

The water tow generator was a heartbreaker for Scott. He was very keen to have this as a second \”alternative power source\” to the solar panels. It has been overcast quite a bit so we have had to run the generator more. Our auto-pilot & fridge/freezers take a fair amount of power. Add the occasional microwave, computers, lights, water desalinator, water heaters, etc. and we need to run the generator about 1-2 hours 2x/day. No problem since we have plenty of fuel onboard & hope to sail, and not need the engines, the entire trip. The water tow generator is a propeller connected to a cable that we drag in the water behind us that is connected to an alternator that helps charge our batteries. It worked like a champ for 2 hours then it seemed the alternator overheated and died. Great concept, but we will have to get different components. Sadly, it is offline for the rest of this trip.

I had the 4:00-8:00 a.m. watch which is great since it begins to get light at 4:30 a.m. I had some drizzle & watched for squalls on the radar, but it blew away ahead of us & we didn\’t get doused. Actually a fresh water rinse once in a while would be great. During my watches I have not had time to write at all. The way we are sailing the boat is \”high maintenance\” (with the spinnaker). We are using the auto pilot, but must make frequent adjustments to our heading to keep the boat from getting out of control & going in the desired direction. Going fast! Mike holds the speed record so far: 16 knots briefly surfing down a wave. Yesterday\’s 24 hr run was 221.5 miles so we are cooking right along. We just to down sized the headsail from the chute to the gennaker. Going steady 11+ knots now.

Scott, Mike and I are getting along great. Mike is a sweetheart. It is so great to have a third person.
I really don\’t know how 2 people do it. Scott has been in radio contact with a monohull, \”Giselle\”, that departed from the Galapagos the same day as us, just hubby & wife from the U.K. They seem to be doing fine. We are so glad to have the extra hands on deck, especially when things break.

We are doing a rotating watch schedule, so that each of us has the deepest darkest night shift (me tonight) only once every third night. I actually love to be ON more than off, since I have not yet reached the point of fatigue to sleep very well when off watch. I just try to close my eyes, breathe, stretch & relax, but actual sleep has been no more than 2 hours at a time so far. I\’ve tried a couple different sleep medications but they don\’t conk me out. My brain will eventually get tired enough that it will finally give it up. I am just much more sensitive to the boat\’s motion & noises than the guys.
I am borderline seasick every time I read or write more than 15 minutes so I don\’t get very far with email. Taking the stugeron helps, but trying to use the computer pushes me over the edge. If I don\’t try to read or write I am fine.

Today Day #3 the gennaker sail tore. This is the in-between sized sail, smaller than the spinnaker and larger than our genoa. It is made out of Kevlar which we were told was strong enough to fly in up to 40 knots of wind. We only had 15-20 knots of wind, going along great when the tear was noticed. Bummer. This is a sail we plan to use much of the time for this passage. We rolled it up, put out the smaller genoa to keep us moving & dragged the huge sail into the cockpit / house. Scott went down the stairs in our hallway & I stayed up in the salon. We use all our might to unroll it in this awkward space. We can\’t do it outside because the wind would have if flapping out of control all over the place. Stolnitz & Stolnitz Mobile Sail Repair persevere & are able to patch the 8 inch horizontal rip with \”sticky back tape\”. Scott then hand stitches the stress points to make sure it is really secure. Meanwhile, the wind & sea conditions are such that we are going almost as fast in the right direction with the genoa, so we leave the repaired gennaker stuffed under the cockpit table overnight. As I write, the wind is lessening & in the morning we are surely going to want to hoist the gennaker. Even if we go to the spinnaker we need to hoist the gennaker in order to roll it up neatly for stowage.

Overall things are going just great. We are making good speed & the boat is pretty comfortable. We hope the swell will shift to be more behind us, right now it is still a bit to our left side (sailors call this a \”beam sea\”). The boat rocks more left & right when we have a beam sea. When the swell is behind us, we actually surf down the waves which is really fun, fast and more comfortable.

We are eating well. Cooking & cleaning up afterwards keeps me busy. I was glad I cooked that batch of chicken mole ahead, because it was \”boisterous\” at dinner time tonight & I didn\’t feel like using the stove while getting tossed around the galley. I just steamed some broccoli to go with the chicken & rice dish so it was an easy meal. Every other morning we have eggs or cereal. Thanks to Alberta for sending the thermometer with Mike, my first batch of yogurt using it came out the best ever. Tonight I am brewing a second batch with my own yogurt as the starter (vs store bought plain yogurt). If I can keep it going with my own starter, I will always be able to make fresh yogurt. YUM!
We are still eating the frozen bread & we\’ve been pretty busy with all the above, but we are looking forward to Mike baking bread soon.

Our third day, we set our \”record\” for a daily run�….231 miles!

Scott & Cindy