One week's progress on a big ocean.
Sailing under storm sails-first of several cold fronts.
Wedges saved us when the rudder bearing broke loose.
The safe anchorage at St. Paul Island where we could make repairs.
January 22, 2014
Our albatross, aka 'Lonesome', glides majestically about us as Onora moves into the warm morning sun. We are surrounded by blue sea and and a few faint fair weather cumulous clouds in a powder blue sky. The one meter sea swell rolls from the southwest every eleven seconds. This says the low and its storm is southwest but far off. There is just a slight break on the wavelets - Beaufort force three, which agrees with Onora’s B&G knot meter reading of seven knots.
All this and the slowly rising barometer speak of good conditions. We could sail at 5 knots but the motor will stay on for a while, charging our batteries and moving us toward Albany two knots faster, using three liters an hour of the 1300 we still have left, enough to motor all of the way. The wind will come up soon and we will return to sails to drive us quicker and more comfortably as the seas build.
This lovely day is in contrast with our mental health.
I have just climbed out of the coffin where Jeannie now dreams of arriving in Australia. We are ready to be relieved of the stress brought on by not knowing what will break next as well as knowing another cold front will surely come with maddening seas and howling winds. When it does we we will climb into our boots, bib overalls, foul weather jackets and harnesses and crawl onto the wave washed deck to reduce sail.
Our steering gear is working-so far. The quadrant that is attached to the cable, chain, and steering wheel is out of alignment, probably slipped because the bearing’s four grub screws that hold the rudderpost vertically are not strong enough.
There is Manuel’s own story of hitting a container which holed his boat while single handing the Atlantic.
Jeannie is up from a nightmare. She dreamed we were heading into a tropical storm with no way to avoid it. Our thoughts have gone negative. We need land.
January 25, 2014
We are at the bottom of our tank of resources. We want to scream. Yesterday's cold front left lumpy seas and even at 16 knots downwind it knocks the wind out of our sails. A noise, I fear the lower rudder bearing, a clicking sound, is keeping Jeannie from sleeping so I have turned the motor on to muffle it, to charge batteries and to help us through the chop.
We are in the last 100 hours of this trial, certainly one of the hardest of our travels. The fear of equipment failure continues. The rudder is holding but probably deteriorating; just needs to hold out for five more days. The broken pole makes us go slower on southwest winds, as we now have. The heater is out, probably a fuel blockage, the cabin is cold at night and on cloudy days.
January 26, 2014
Five hundred and ninety-four miles to go. A good night's sleep after fixing the loose access plate to the back of the engine, the source of the clicking (not the rudder bearing) that was driving Jeannie mad. Yesterday was lovely, good seas and sunny downwind sailing on a substitute for the broken pole. The jib sheet is through the end of the boom which is swung out over the starboard rail, doing a reasonable job of keeping that sail filled and adding a knot and a half to our speed.
[ Click here for Part II ]
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