From: Guy Jones <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Wednesday, November 7, 2018 7:10:28 AM
Subject: Day Three
Well, Neptune did not grant our wish, as the winds and the sea state did not abate. The third day was a repeat of first two days with wind in the 22-28 knot range with 6-8’ seas. However, the wind backed thirty degrees and we were now able to come up to a magnetic heading between 165 - 170 degrees. Moreover were now making 8+ knots over ground with a triple main and Yankee and full staysail. It was still cold, wet and windy but we were back on course and putting money in the bank against any wind shifts South of East. We had only made 148 nautical miles on the second day but it appeared we would get most of it back on day three.
About 0815 hours on the third day, I sent our daily update to Ken. About three hours later, I received the update as usual and guess what it basically said? You guessed it. Your current conditions will improve within the next 24 hours. Love that Gentleman.
As I have said, we were continually taking large waves into the cockpit. As a result, we were both getting very wet. In fact we were taking so much water that we put the companionway door boards in place and pulled the hood forward to thwart any water going down the companionway. Since the temperatures were not so much as issue for me I opted for a lightweight foul weather jacket and shorts. When Nina came up for her night watch between 10:00 PM and 2:00 AM, on the three-day she was wearing my offshore fowl weather gear because everything she had was wet and not warm enough. And again, guess what? Correct, she was still cold. I admit, it was cold but not that cold but to each his or her own.
Watches. We use a four hour watch system that some might say is a long time particularly at night. What I have found is that a three-hour system does not provide enough true sleep time as you loose 10-15 minutes undressing, 15 minutes before you actually get to sleep and another 10-15 minutes getting dressed for you next watch. And if you need coffee or tea as a starter, another 10-15 minutes is lost in that process resulting in only two hours of sleep. Footloose like most vessels her size offshore runs the autopilot 100% of the time. So the watch basically involves monitoring the wind and the autopilot and watching for other vessels. As such, it is not strenuous but it can be boring, and as such, one might particularly at night dose off. In order to avoid that, I have a series of checks that I perform essentially every fifteen to twenty minutes, which requires me to leave the steering station. I check the bilge and the bilge counter, I check the battery voltage and because of the water intrusion, I was checking the quarter berth and the forward stateroom for water. Again, like most offshore passage making vessels, Footloose is equipped with AIS that is an automatic ship identification system that alerts the watch to the presence of another vessel in some cases 15 miles away. During the first three days after we had cleared the passage we never saw another vessel. The point here is that watches even 4-6 hour watches are not particularly stressful or tedious in these conditions but they can be boring.
But Footloose is seldom without some drama, so true to form, at 0145 AM on the third day, Nina woke me up and said the head aft head was plugged. It is a boat. I tried several times to clear it but I was unsuccessful. So we carry a product called Drain Buster, a nautical version of Draino. I closed the head discharge seacock and poured about a quart of this stuff into the commode. On my routine checks at 4:20 AM, the head was clear. Nina reminded me as she was heading to bed that she never places paper products in the head. My response was yes Ma’am. ;-)
But the head was not the biggest issue we (I) faced that night. The wind began to die down about 9:00 PM to 14-18 knots and I did not want to burden Nina with shaking out the reef on her watch. So I brought Footloose up about forty degrees, eased the main sheet, open the clutches on both the main halyard and the furler
and began hoisting the mainsail with the intension of leaving one reef in place. I was almost done when I noticed that the part of the main sail tape was not in the track. I was mildly curious why this had happened but I opted to furl the sail completely and then rehoist. What happened next was and still remains somewhat of a mystery to me. The main was furled down to the second batten from the top when I sensed very high pressure on the furling line. Something was wrong and so, I did what I should not have done, I went forward after strapping into the jack line to determine the cause. What I saw was that the boat rope or sail tape was jammed between the boat rope slide and the feeder. The sail tape had been repaired in Marquesas and it was not a quality job and now the frayed tape was jammed into the feeder. The slide itself is held on by two small screws but I would need help to get it off without loosing those screws so I had no choice but to wake up Nina and have her try to take off the bottom slide. After explaining the situation both of us are now on the deck strapped in trying to remove a small screw so we can put the boltrope back into the feeder. Remember, the sea is about is about 5-7’ and wind 15-18 knots. We got the first screw out but upon looking at the screw after getting the second screw out we see that the screw had actually broken off in the slide. As a result, we could not remove the track at all. This had taken a good part of twenty minutes due primarily to the confused seas complicating the task. At this point, I said, we cannot do this now. We will try again in the morning and we will leave the main reefed to the second batten until the sea state improves.
As it turns out, the winds piped up again back to the 22-25 knot levels and the sail change that had precipitated this situation was unnecessary. I know, the wait ten-minute rule. We were back sailing again and Nina had lost about an hour of sleep needlessly as it turns out but Footloose once again had a full head of steam and we were heading East of South.
I offered to stand watch until 12:00 AM but Nina would have none of it so my watch ended with me feeling pretty bad about the aborted sail change. When you are offshore you will win some and you will lose some and that is our life in the South Pacific.
Oh, we had grilled mahi mahi, corn and a salad for dinner.
One more thing before I close. Ian, look closely at the picture and specifically at the Yankee furler line.
Fair winds all