Hopefully our Final blog at sea
Saturday 9th December. We are now entering our 3rd week at sea. The days as I have previously described are sail-eat-sleep repeat. These days and nights are punctuated by exciting events like spotting a yacht on AIS or even better a mast in the distance. We have also been visited by flying fish and each morning walk the decks to remove the fish that didn't make the leap over KS after dark. During one early morning watch an energetic flying fish jumped the rails and hit Matt square on the back before slithering into the cockpit subsequently losing an eye that was never found. Gavin has continued his success with another catch a large Wahoo, that we actually set free as it was too big for us to eat and I didn't fancy all the fridge contents smelling of fish.
At the end of each day after dinner we review the position reports and talk about yachts that may be close by or watching the progress of our friends. This is followed by a couple of rounds of PopMaster and general quiz. I am the quizmaster as the men are very competitive, I have a custom-built spreadsheet and will declare the winner at the end of the ARC.
As I mentioned the SSB and iridium go are the methods used to download weather data. The ARC net is also an excellent way of hearing first-hand the weather in different areas of the course. Wednesday 6th December was the first ARC net chat where other yachts mentioned experiencing squalls. These are short lived but sudden rain downpours with excessive wind increase with wind being directly proportional to rain. We checked out with radar on Wednesday 7th as there was lots of dense clouds around and although we did identify a squall this one was not on our track. At 1am on Friday 8th Matt was just handing the helm over to Geoff and I was just officially going off watch when we were hit by a squall. First it went calm and light then the torrential rain and then wind up to and possibly more than 30knts all within 2 minutes. The wind lasted just 5 mins and the rain for 15 minutes. This was long enough for Matt and Geoff to be sodden but not significant enough to arouse Gav from his bunk. Luckily, we had reefed KS down to 3 reefs before dark due to known increase in wind strength and possibility of squalls. Above decks KS handled the wind well, below decks I did a double check for safety stowage especially heavy items as we were tossed around. The squall ended as suddenly as it had started, with light winds, in fact as it was dark Geoff did 2 360? turns due to lack of steerage and orientation. The wind eventually came back and did build to the expected 20-24knts so we kept the reefs in and continued towards the Caribbean at 7-8knts.
The only significant equipment failure we have encountered is with our cockpit chart plotter. We originally thought the problem was connected to the SSB usage but as the days have progressed it is obviously a fault with the touch screen of the Raymarine a98 'touch screen only' plotter in the cockpit that is < 2 years old. The data is correct, but the touch screen becomes unusable and erratic. We have contacted a specialist in St Lucia as it is still under warranty and are hopeful for a repair / replacement before ARC Panama Jan 2018. This excessive erratic behaviour may also account for some of the unexpected power consumption at times overnight. We are fortunate to have a second chart plotter below decks so still feeling safe at sea.
As of yesterday, we had 680 n-miles to St Lucia and it will be great to have a full cup of coffee again and still hope to be in by 13/12/17.
Just a quick update Gav's fishing skill, he has just caught a tuna! This means he has ticked off all the fish on the top line of the ARC fishing guide! White Marlin next!!
Explore Dream Discover xx