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_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Almost to the South Pacific 3:45AM 4/5/07 00 34N, 130 30 W (Ginger)

We had a fantastic spinnaker run yesterday. We set the chute at 9AM and floated at 7 knots most of the day. It all came to a crashing halt as the halyard chafed through at 4:30PM and the sail splashed into the ocean. Fortunately we didn't run it over. It was an "all hands on deck" moment. We hauled it back up on deck and besides being a little bit saltier than everything else on the boat it's fine. We've had trouble with that halyard since day one and this was the latest attempt to run the halyard
so it wouldn't bind at the mast head. Obviously it didn't work well. We only lost about a foot of halyard so if it's calm enough in a few hours I'll haul Peter up the mast to put up another block and run the halyard up the outside of the mast for the rest of this passage. In general things are great aboard. The seas have been fairly calm since the ITCZ and the wind has been pleasant. We have had inconsistent wind at night the last 2 nights and are currently motor sailing (I know an oxymoron
- but really we are) motoring at idle to keep the sails full as the larger swell waves roll the boat. Without the motor we were sailing at 5.5 knots until the waves would roll through completely emptying the sails and slamming the boom across the boat. That's too hard on the rig. As a bonus it's a little chilly tonight for sitting in the cockpit in my parau and t-shirt so the engine exhaust fan is a great heater. We enjoyed a beautifully sunny day yesterday and the batteries got some charge but
they're still a little low from last week and running the motor is good for the engine as well as the batteries. Our radio got a good workout again last night and we used the auto pilot much of our spinnaker sail.

I've been thinking about sailing as a sport lately. We've enjoyed a lot of different sports over the years and they all have their specific jargon, skills and levels of effort. For me this ocean passage most closely relates to mountain climbing. The only difference is the elevation and the fact that you can bring the kitchen sink, and toilet. There have been quiet times where we're just making good mileage and there have been challenging times where we're just hanging on. We have to be roped
in, in case of falls. The angle under foot is constantly changing and sure footedness is paramount. The weather conditions can change at a moments notice and you have to be prepared for whatever is coming. You're all alone and need to be completely self sufficient. Contact with the world is only possible with some fancy equipment and even with that it's limited by propagation, distance and some chance. There are specific skills and knowledge that make a trip like this possible and even more
comfortable but you don't need any of them to come out here on a boat. And finally, if you don't have the skills and knowledge to be self sufficient, there's no real safety net so it'll help if your just lucky. It's been as challenging as mountain climbing and as rewarding too. It's definitely and endurance sport and a great team effort. The views are stunning and on a rough sunny day it looks like a vast dark glacier around the boat. On our roughest days with large following seas I had trouble
shaking the perception that the sea was angled. It sounds odd, and Peter didn't get it but it appeared that we were on a down hill slope, like the bunny hill skiing. Even the horizon appeared to slope to me. Maybe it was the angle of the boat combined with the angle of the waves. It was a relief when it appeared normal to me again. I think it's like the picture of the young woman and the old woman. Sometimes you can see one and once you see the other it's hard to get the first perspective again.
Or, maybe I was just tired. No wonder Peter was extra quiet for a couple of days during my off watch!

There are some specific terms related to sports. Here's one I learned in Mexico from our daughter that's not just a sailing term. "Swampass" It's a term used by her frisbee team as they have long drives to hot locations for tournaments. When I learned this technical term we were on a local bus in Melaque sitting on plastic seats on a hot day. Peter and I now completely understand the term as when we went through the squalls in in the ITCZ we were living in wet shorts for about 24 hours. We've
discovered that the best treatment is something I bought because I saw the inventor interviewed and I liked his story. It's called Boudreaux's Butt Paste. He's a compounding pharmacist from a small town who made up this salve for his customers' babies. His customers started coming to him asking for more as it's a great all around salve (not to mention the sun screen properties of zinc oxide ointment) and they were using it for themselves. We've found it to be invaluable and only wish we'd brought
a case instead of one small tube.

Those are my random 4AM, drank a Mexican Coca Cola at 2AM thoughts. (I've been assured by an expert source that the recipe is different in Mexico and far superior) There's still almost a full moon, calm (sort of) seas, almost no clouds and incredible visibility this morning. Today we'll tip some rum to Neptune, and maybe offer a Tequila chocolate to Poseidon.
Cheers!

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