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Walkabout - Day 12 - Over Half Way Day

S7:08 W116:27

By most methods of assessment we passed through halfway yesterday. We celebrated the crossing of the halfway line of longitude with a beer and at tube of Pringles at about 1100 (Walkabout Time). We all agreed that the beer was nice, tasted a bit strange after 12 days on the wagon. But resisted the urge to have another just to check whether the first was ok. Shortly after crossing this nebulous line we were joined by a big pod of dolphins around the boat and off the bow. They seemed to think this milestone was worth celebrating too.

One dimension where we are probably not over halfway is time. It took us just under 10 days to get to the halfway line of longitude at an average speed of 6.8 knots. The last couple of days have seem much lighter winds, and the days ahead look lighter still. So we have been struggling to maintain a 6 knot average over the last 36 hours - and that looks set to get slower all the way to next Friday. So our second half could well take us 12 days or more.

Walkabout is currently the most northerly boat in the fleet - there is method in our madness. It appears the light wind area will build to the south of us, so we are attempting to keep to the north of the lowest winds - time will tell if this works out.

The Blue Water Runner has been flying continuously for the last 3 days. It is great for easy downwind sailing. But we are rather restricted on the heading we can make in relation to the angle to the wind. The Hydrovane has been steering us through this time, and does a great job of keeping the wind dead behind or 10-15 degrees to one side. But that means we follow the wind direction - sometimes good - sometimes less good. At about 0300 this morning we had a big wind shift which has started pushing us further north than anticipated. We need to make a significant sail change - so the decision was made to delay that until daylight, rather than have 2 people on the foredeck in the pitch black.

To assist the stability of the BWR we have the starboard side sheet (control rope) rigged through the end of the spinnaker pole - the port side sheet has been free flying - until yesterday when we rigged the port side through a block at the end of the boom, which we swung out as far as it would go. This worked pretty well, and stopped quite a bit of the ‘fill and spill’ banging that often occurs with this sail.

The Catering Club discovered quite a significant problem with the provisioning plan yesterday - both our fridges are not working properly. We have had a problem with the chest fridge for a while, but that has been manageable as we mainly use it for fruit, veg and drinks. But the other fridge/freezer was found to have defrosted yesterday morning, and our meat/fish stocks are in the freezer compartment. There seems to be some voltage related problem that affects them overnight - not sure I am going to fix that anytime soon. So the big cook up started, to ensure that food didn’t go to waste. As a result, the Fishing Club Committee decided to withdraw Tom’s fishing licence again - as we just couldn’t manage more fish if the freezer isn’t working.

We filled up with fuel yesterday. Unfortunately there isn’t a handy fuel barge 1500NM out here in the Pacific. So that means transferring diesel from our cans into the main tank. It was a good gauge to understand how much we have used so far, and with light weather ahead, what our motoring strategy might be. The tank holds 200 litres, and we have about 230 litres in cans, stored under that transom seat at the back of the boat. About 72 litres was transferred, filling the main tank. To date the engine has run for 20 hours and the generator for 8.5 hours. This equates to around 3l/hour for the engine (at 2000RPM, making 6knots) and 1.5l/hr for the generator (charging batteries, running the water maker, running the washing machine and using the induction hob). All that seems quite reassuring as we are over halfway. If push came to shove, we could motor for about 700NM - but really hoping the winds aren’t that light over the coming days.

With these results, the Governance and Strategy Sub-Committee reviewed the motoring policy, concluding that we will only motor if boat speed is sustained below 3 knots.
The Catering Club reviewed provisioning plans in light of the freezer problems, and concluded that we have enough tins to feed a small army, so no rationing is required at present!

Yesterday was a sunnier, more settled day. The sea state was more comfortable, and the huge, threatening clouds of squalls stayed away - a beautiful, chilled day in the middle of the Pacific.

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