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“Can you please write a blog post?” asked my wife.

“I’m busy,” I say.

“But it’s been four days with nothing from you. You’ve posted every day for almost a year. People expect an update.”

“After such a flood, I’d think those people would like a break.”

“Then stop thinking and write a post.”


Over the last week, Mo and I have been holed-up on Ben Garvey’s dock in Purcell’s Cove, which is well outside of town. This has two benefits. One, it makes me hard to find, and so the number of visitors has slowed to nearly zero. Two, the pleasures of Halifax proper are too far away to be conveniently reached by foot. These together have increased my focus, and now work progresses well.

This next leg of the Figure 8, probably a series of short hops, will rely on mechanical systems largely unused during the first, all-ocean passage: namely, the anchor windlass, the engine, the autopilot, and the dinghy outboard.


Servicing the anchor windlass…
Ug. The windlass lives in the dankest, darkest part of the boat interior and has been ignored for too long.
Cleaned and ready for oil.
Windlass back in place and with new power cables.
Next on the work list came the starter motor, which has been sticking of late. On one in three starts, the pinion engages without spinning the flywheel. Instead, it just whirs. I think the clutch is either worn or rusted.
Getting at the starter motor required removing the alternator, so I took the opportunity to give it a good cleaning.
Mo is amply supplied with spares. Here is a new starter motor, whose acquisition was as difficult as digging it out of the forepeak locker. The old is being serviced.
Getting everything apart took hours, but reassembly was smoother.
Fluids and filters changed. New belts. Cleaned alternator. New starter. Every nut and bolt and hose clamp checked. All that and the engine still runs.
Also in spares, an autopilot ram. It has received no exercise since 2016, so here it is unwrapped, cleaned, new fluid in, and bench tested.
The dinghy is powered by a simple Yamaha 2.5hp outboard that has sat patiently on the rail these last 30,000 miles. Oil change, new spark plug, clean fuel, and boom, it goes. Here is the little beast challenging a container ship to a drag race. Luckily, we were ignored.



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Note from Joanna:

Hey folks. We’ve got a fun giveaway for all of you. If you’ll remember, a dear friend and supporter of the Figure 8 Voyage asked if he could name his ink after Randall and his journey. You can read about this amazing ink and the story of why it inspired the name of Randall Blue here.

Here’s where things get fun!

If you’d like some Randall ink, Nick is giving away 4 bottles together with signed original artwork to 4 lucky winners. All you have to do to enter is like the Figure 8 Voyage Facebook page and leave the words ‘Good Luck Randall!’ in the comments section below. We will announce the winners here on Monday 15th July 2019.

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As of yesterday, provisioning for the next leg of the Figure 8 Voyage is complete. Foods have been purchased, loaded aboard and neatly stowed, and once again, Mo’s lockers are full-up.

This time around, provisioning was largely a function of re-establishing par levels for core foods. Having done that, I sat down this morning to see what, in fact, I’d eaten since last October.

Below is a list of foods that were consumed during the 237 days it took to get myself and Mo from San Francisco to Halifax.

Open-and-Eat Canned Goods
Soups and stews, 108 cans
Baked Beans (Heinz), 12 cans
Eggplant Ragout, 12 cans
Giant Baked Bean in Tomato Sauce, 22 cans
Ravioli, 30 cans
Dolmas, 16 cans

Canned Vegetables
Black Beans, 30 cans
Carrots, 8 cans
Corn, 20 cans
Peas, 14 cans
Tomatoes Stewed, 40 cans
Tomato Sause (for pasta), 16 cans

Canned Meats
Chicken Breast, 28 cans
Beef Ground, 22 cans
Beef Roast, 29 cans
Pork, 8 cans
Salmon, 26 cans
Trout Smoked, 15 cans

Dairy
Butter, 8 cans
Powdered Milk, 35lbs
Whole Dried Egg, 1.25lbs
Cheese (fresh and dried) 6lbs

Grains and Other Starches
Crisps and Crackers, 15lbs
Corn Chips, 10lbs
Muesli, 62lbs
Polenta, 3lbs
Pasta, 15lbs
Potato Flakes, 13lbs
Potato Hashbrowns, 3lbs
Quinoa, 12lbs

Nuts
Roasted Almonds, 5lbs
Roasted Cashews, 2lbs
Roasted Peanuts, 13lbs

Bars and Chocolates
Cliff Bars, 360 ea
Chocolate Bars, Lindt Dark 3.5 oz, 52 ea
Chocolate, M&Ms (peanut), 10lbs

Dried Fruit
Blueberries, 3lbs
Figs, 5lbs
Prunes, 5lbs
Apricots, 3lbs

Beverages
Coffee (ground) 23lbs
Beer, 186 cans
Wine, 30 bottles

Toilet Paper, 54 rolls

Lessons

  1. What Didn’t Get Eaten

Polenta. During the Figure 8 Voyage 1.0, I had a hankering for polenta (polenta, black beans, stewed tomatoes and salmon was a favorite dish) and had run out. So, for the 2.0 attempt, I stocked up. But my tastes shifted from polenta to quinoa on the 2.0 attempt, and so, Mo still carries several pounds of polenta aboard.

Hummus. I departed with 30lbs of hummus aboard in small-portion tetra packs. But I’d ordered this sight-unseen, and found, once at sea, that the brand I’d purchased was not to my taste.

Peanut Butter. A favorite breakfast ashore is toast with peanut butter and jam. But as I baked far less often at sea than anticipated, little of the peanut butter was consumed.

2. Ease of Preparation

I overestimated my ability/desire to cook while underway. As the months rolled on, and especially in the south, I gravitated toward the easier-to-prepare meals, and, during the last few weeks, I was eating foods right from the can with no preparation at all. This means I used almost none of the 40lbs of rice aboard, which, compared to quinoa, was too difficult to prepare. This issue applied to baking as well. I baked bread and cakes fewer than ten times, whereas the budget called for once a week.

3. Successes

-Bob’s Red Mill Muesli is hearty and healthy. I ate this happily every morning.
-Costco canned meats are of excellent quality and were consistently enjoyed.
-Cliff Bars were an easy and flavorful calorie boost. I never tired of Apricot and Peanut Butter flavors and was sad when they all ran out about a month before the Halifax landfall.

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Here’s the set-up.

Two friends from San Francisco, Ben Shaw and his wife, Lauren Keane, just happened to book a cruise on Ice Bear, 59 North Sailing’s newest boat, that put them in Halifax the week of Mo’s arrival.

Ben and Lauren aboard Ice Bear, climbing toward Halifax last week.

I learned of this via a text that read, “Hey, we’re in Lunenburg. Can we buy you a beer?”

I’d not seen Ben since a month before the Figure 8 began, and though we’d chatted for his podcast, Out the Gate, while Mo and I were at sea, I had no expectation whatever of seeing the two of them a whole coast away from home.

As one might expect, that first beer led to a second and then to dinner and, finally, a Figure 8 conversation that Ben, ever the journalist, insisted on recording. By this time it was late. Outside, the rain pounded. We two reclined deeply into the comfortable chairs of the Armdale Yacht Club.

And our talk went like this…

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Sure, it’s a nice town, but it became fabulous when my wife arrived on Friday afternoon. Her flight through Philadelphia canceled; the resulting connection grounded her in Dallas. That she came trundling out the gate of Stanfield International at roughly the right time proved a stroke of luck; that she pushed before her two large bags of spares for Moli and a bubble-wrapped Monitor frame was nothing short of miraculous.

Jo and Randall. First meeting after eight months apart.

The previous day, I moved Mo to a private mooring kindly offered by Ben Garvey of Purcell’s Cove.

Mo on a mooring at Purcell’s Cove.
The new Monitor frame comes aboard. Many thanks to Mike Scheck and the team at Scanmar International.

All that trouble to get here, all that trouble to connect with a husband unseen since last October, and still, she let our first day together be a run to Costco for provisions. “The course of true love never did run so smooth.”

I tried to be conservative. Then we hit the cookie aisle.

With that work done, we retired to the coast for a hike and into town for dinner.

Along the coast near Herring Cove.

Dinner with new friends Sebastian and Rhiannon.
A display at the Halifax Maritime Museum. On December 6, 1917, two ships collided in Halifax Harbor. One, the Mont Blanc, carried a hold full of munitions. She caught fire and later exploded in a blast that flattened the town and killed thousands. This and the next photo are fragments of the Mont Blanc found miles from the scene.
An overhung trail around Long Lake.
Park bench along Long Lake trail. Some Halifax residents are more colorful than others.
In the public gardens of central Halifax.
Victoria Jubilee Fountain.
Dingle Tower from the other side of the Northwest Arm.
Final morning stroll.

Jo departed for home today, and I spent the afternoon loading provisions onto Mo.

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Each day starts with a renewed attack on the work list, and each day that attack is blunted by visitors. Rich, John S, Sebastian, the owner of Comet, Bob, James, Rob, Ben, Sandy, Phil…the names go on. These interruptions, “the many snares of popularity,” are not the least unpleasant, and some even mature into dinners at the club.

A mere twelve days ago, I was enjoying the habit of eating my meals cold from a can; now I am served fresh haddock, salmon and lamb accompanied by beer colder than the ocean. One would think such a transition might be difficult or at least awkward. It is not.

All that to one side, work is progressing. Mo has been hauled, de-barnacled, painted, and is back in the water; the blown headsail has been repaired and is again flying from her headstay; engine fluids and filters have been changed; the gravity diesel heater carburetor has been repaired. We’ve taken on fuel and water, 100 gallons of each. I’ve had ten hot showers and have done four loads of laundry.

The last few rolls of bottom paint going on; one coat of Trilux I hope to get us home.
Mo’s #2 headsail back on her foil. Note vertical patch through two panels. Sandy at North Sails in Lunenberg took the time to dot other pin holes with a small, circular patch. Now I can memorize constellations during daylight.
Looking like she’s ready to go.
I’ve gone eight months without heat, but now that we’re at the dock, heat has somehow become desperately necessary. Problem, the Refleks carburetor control valve keeps sticking. Mo has two carburetors, and I’ve had both apart multiple times.
A visitor came in for fuel. I’ve been one upped by Sea Shepherd’s Brigitte Bardot.
The guy to my right is Wayne Blundell, Dockmaster here at RNSYS. Wayne is the man in town who everyone knows, and of all the friendly folks here in Halifax, he’s has been one of the best.

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As referenced in a previous post, John Harries, author of the well-known voyaging website, Attainable Adventure Cruising, came to visit Mo at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron last week.

John has long advocated the use of the Jordan Series Drogue and so was interested to explore the issues Mo had with the drogue during a recent North Atlantic gale.

By way of reminder, the drogue bridle wrapped the Monitor wind vane late in the blow, causing serious damage. More on that here.

What follows is a snippet of our conversation, a short video shot entirely by John. For my part, I was so excited to meet him, I lost my head and failed to take any photos of us at all. That said, I did learn quite a bit…

______________________________________________________________________

Published by John Harries, June 8, 2019 at Attainable Adventure Cruising.

A Chat With Randall Reeves

Randall making a call from his very cool and deeply practical wheelhouse.

As many of you will be aware, Randall Reeves just made a planned stop in Halifax after 227 days at sea circumnavigating Antartica as part of his Figure 8 Voyage.

(Randall’s original planned stop was Saint John’s, but he wisely diverted because of the unusual density of ice bergs off Newfoundland.)

I was lucky enough to spend a couple of hours with Randall on his boat Moli, most of which we spent discussing his experiences with series drogues designed by Don Jordan.

I’m working on an in-depth article on everything I learned from Randall (not a trivial task because there was a lot), but in the mean time I thought it would be fun to post a short video clip from our chat.

I have only lightly edited it because I want to preserve the reality of two sailors figuring stuff out.


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June 7, 2019

The Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron
Halifax, Nova Scotia

I noticed barnacle growth before our first pass at Cape Horn, just one or two, spied going about their business in the eddies off Mo’s transom. And then, over the course of the Southern Ocean circuit, each time I hung myself over the stern to work on Monte, the numbers I could observe grew. Within a few months, were clearly hosting a colony.

A diverse colony of at least three species. The gorilla of the group was entirely purple, carried a long, thick stem at the end of which were two “ears,” and it grew anywhere reached by the bounding waves. I could see a few above the water line even at the bow. Next came the white, hard-shelled, teardrop-shaped barnacles. Then the smaller zebras.

A week from our second Cape Horn rounding, I put a camera over the side during a calm, and what it brought up was a shock–Mo’s underside had become a reef. The following three photos are from March 11, 2019. It’s day 158 of the Figure 8 Voyage and we’ve sailed 21,699 miles.

Starboard quarter above the waterline.
Starboard quarter and rudder (which is largely clean).
Starboard looking forward.

What was to be done about them?

During the previous year’s Figure 8 attempt, I’d hauled Mo in Hobart, Australia and, to save a few bucks, the yard boatswain had allowed me to blast away her goodly crop of barnacles myself. The pressure washer was so powerful, it nearly ripped my arms from their sockets, but still, the removal of barnacles took half a day. This suggested to me that diving the hull with a sharpened spatula would be a futile exercise.

So, I did nothing but lament the situation and press on.

Over the course of the next two months, Mo slowly climbed north into the Atlantic. As the water warmed and became clear, I noticed that the barnacles I could see from the transom begin to die off. First the long, “eared” barnacle bit the dust. Then the zebras. The barnacle with the teardrop shell seemed the most resilient.

In the Horse Latitudes of about 30N and 60W, Mo and I were again becalmed. Again I put a camera in the water and was shocked at the finding. The following three photographs are from May 18, 2019, 68 days after the above photographs. It’s day 225 of the Figure 8 Voyage, and we’ve sailed 30,106 miles. We are two weeks from Halifax.

Starboard quarter above water line.
Port side aft.
Starboard looking forward.

Elation hardly captures the feeling. The barnacles had nearly evaporated and Mo’s bum was remarkably clean. One element of relief for me in finding this was confirmation that our very poor mileage in the Atlantic was not entirely due to a dirty bottom.

On Friday, June 8, day 245 of the Figure 8 Voyage, I hauled Mo here at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. Given the above, my expectations were that the bum would be nearly spotless. Instead, we had a new crop of hitchhikers coming in at the base of those older barnacles that remained.

Coming onto the weighs at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.
Stands to support the bow.
Port side looking aft.
Starboard quarter.
The barnacle with “ears” and a few small zebras.

Lessons Learned:

  1. “There is no good bottom paint for aluminum boats,” says my friend, fellow cruiser, and aluminum boat builder, Gerd Marggraff. Prior to departure, I had applied three generous coats of a bottom paint known specifically to ward off hard growth, but barnacles are superior beings, able to penetrate even the best defenses.
  2. An early jump. I might have had an easier time of it if I’d dived the hull before the first Cape Horn rounding, when the barnacles were young and few.
  3. In hindsight, I think I could have dived the hull with some success, even when the barnacles had matured into a reef. I found here in the yard that the “hold fast” (the glue that holds the barnacle fast to the hull) was easier to remove with a sharpened spatula than I had thought. It would have been a big job, taking a full day or more–but not impossible.
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Date: June 7, 2019

Hello Everyone!

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from “my lovely wife,” but with Randall and Mo now tucked safely into a Halifax marina, a number of my non-sailor friends have been asking me questions about the voyage. The same questions. I’m the in-house expert on the non-sailorly stuff, so I thought I’d do a quick FAQ for everyone.

So, here we go…

1. Has Randall broken the “rules” for this voyage by stopping?

The short answer is: no, there are no rules. It wouldn’t matter if Randall stopped once or a 100 times (which I rather think he’d like to do.), no one has yet singlehanded this route in one season, so technically his journey is still 100% successful. Practically, the combination of the time/distance commitment and weather patterns meant stopping as little as possible was the goal– hence the 200-and-something days at sea–but a stop somewhere in the North East prior to entering the Arctic was always part of the plan. There’s actually another person starting from Germany (I think) this summer who’s trying to go even faster. We think he’s great too!

2. Are you going to see Randall?

Yes. With the stop now happening in Halifax, we might change where I meet him, but I’m absolutely heading up to the North East for a couple of days. Why not longer? Because Randall and Mo need to get back out to sea and headed for the Northwest Passage soon. Plus I have to get back to work. Someone has to pay for all of this. 🙂

3. Were you worried all this time?

Yes and no. Yes, of course! Some of that stuff Randall got himself into was super scary. But the reality is that my way of coping is to just not think about the bad stuff. I’d make myself sick if I did. Plus I come from a long line of sailors who’ve done some pretty insane things on boats–my Grandfather was on two ships that sank in WWI, and he survived them both–so I’m generally optimistic about Randall’s chances.

4. You’ve been alone much of the last two years, (Figure 8 Attempt #1 and now #2). How have you handled that?

The good news is that I’m a pretty independent gal. I think it’s part of why Randall likes me. Plus I’ve been really really busy building my own company while he’s been gone, so it’s been great to not have him underfoot during this time of intense focus. On top of all that, I have LOTS of awesome friends all over the world (I’m a tad more extroverted than my husband) who’ve kept me entertained. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. And right now my heart is very fond.

5. Do you understand all the technical terms Randall puts in his blog?

Most but not all. I tend to skip over those bits and just read about what he’s doing. That said, my mother wrote a lexicon of terms on Randall’s first adventure on Murre, our first boat. You can read them here:

<https://murreandthepacific.com/the-mother-in-laws-lexicon-of-sailing-terminology/>

6. Why didn’t you want to go with him? Would you go with him?

I know Randall would love nothing more than to have me with him on this and all his voyages. And as much as I love sailing, I’m a firm no. There are some very simple reasons for this:

-I require hot and cold water under pressure, and Randall’s boats have never had this.

-I like fresh fruit and veggies. On Randall’s boats, these are in shorts supply.

-There’s no one to chat with.

-Randall likes to go long distances, and I’d miss going on hikes.

-The whole “no showering” thing is a bit of a deal breaker.

I guess I’m more of a “wine and a cheese plate” kind of sailor.

All that said. I couldn’t be prouder of what Randall is doing, and I’m excited to see him in a couple of weeks.

In my mind this is just the start of a new adventure for both of us.

Until next time.

J

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June 5, 2019

The Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Making an unknown shore by boat, alone, and following a longish interval at sea is a perfectly normal way to arrive at a place; at least this is what repeated experience suggests. So, I am surprised at the greeting that follows arrival here.

The Dock Master, Wayne, meets Mo at the slip to take lines. “You must have friends,” he says as I jump ashore, nearly breaking a leg.

“I hope to have retained a few,” I reply.

“No, I mean, in New York.” He hands me a letter that had been sent ahead, a greeting from fellow cruisers Connie and Tony with a little cash. “We’d like to buy your first beer,” it says.

At the club, I am hailed quite before that beer can be delivered. “You’re the guy just in from Cape Horn, aren’t you? The word is out. Come sit with us.”

During dinner, I find a man has suddenly squatted next to me. He extends a hand. “We’ve never met, but I’ve been following your voyage.” He has just come in from the rain and brought the cold with him into the overheated bar; his glasses are fogged. He seems nervous.

“If there’s anything I can do for you while you are here, just let me know,” he says.

Next day, Saturday, I phone the sail maker. “I’ll be there in ten minutes,” he says. By the time of his arrival, there are already several others crawling over Mo. Sebastian, the owner of a Boreal at the end of the next dock has come by to see the new high latitude boat in town. Phil, a machinist and yachtie, is stooped over Monte, assessing his damage.

Later in the day, a phone call. “This is John Harries; I run a website called Attainable Adventure, you may have heard of it…” Indeed! He wants to see Mo and discuss Monte’s argument with the drogue that put us here.

I escape to the club for a phone call with my wife. Before I am able to dial, a woman sits next to me. “My name is India. I am the vice commodore. We’ve heard of your recent exploits. Would you like to present to our group on Tuesday? 7pm. Sharp. Oh, and here is Sean, our Commodore; let me introdude you.”

Granted, I am no Lindberg. These are not throngs. But the attention is unexpected, and to my shame, it is not unpleasant.

For two days I do nothing but hike between Mo in her slip and the clubhouse. Even in the daily fit of rain, this trek takes but five minutes. By the second morning, I have shin splints. Let me reiterate: I get shin splints from walking the equivalent of three blocks twice a day. After eight months at sea, my legs have forgotten their function and must be drug forward as if they are mere luggage.

Rob is the man who accosted me at dinner, and he has become an indispensable part of the Figure 8 crew. On Monday, we trundle all over Halifax on my first acquisition run. A length of clear hose, primary fuel filters, engine oil, anchor windlass switch, fuses, heat shrink, duct tape, penetrating oil, a few new screw drivers, engine thermostat, bottom paint.

It took all day.

Today he helped move Mo to the fuel berth in a southerly that brought drenching rain.

Given the resource here and the remoteness of St. John’s, I’ve decided to extend my Halifax layover.

Tomorrow we haul Mo for an inspection and a coat of fresh paint.

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May 31 2019

Day: 237

Noon Position: 44 26N  63 28W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): NNE 5

Wind(t/tws): SE 5

Sea(t/ft): —

Sky: Low fog

10ths Cloud Cover: 10

Bar(mb): 1008

Cabin Temp(f): 63

Water Temp(f): 40

Relative Humidity(%): 64

Sail: Under engine.

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 96

Miles since departure: 31,244

Avg. Miles/Day: 132

Leg North Miles: 8,003

Leg North Days: 71

Avg. Miles/Day: 113

Halifax has been achieved. Mo and I are docked at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron facilities after 227 days at sea and some 31,000 continuous, non-stop miles.

Here’s a little wrap up…

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May 30, 2019

Day 237

Noon Position: 42 50N  63 19W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): NNW 5

Wind(t/tws): NNE 10

Sea(t/ft): NE 3

Sky: Clear

10ths Cloud Cover: 0

Bar(mb): 1011+

Cabin Temp(f): 61

Water Temp(f): 43 (Note yesterday.)

Relative Humidity(%): 65

Sail: #2 and main, close hauled on starboard

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 96

Miles since departure: 31,224

Avg. Miles/Day: 132

Leg North Miles: 8,003

Leg North Days: 71

Avg. Miles/Day: 113

Overnight our west winds slowly veered into the north and more, pushing us due east and way off course. I came on deck at 3am to assess–should we tack around?–and found that the sea appeared to be boiling with fog. Fog came off the watertop in billows, and in the glow of running lights, cast an eery spell over the night. I couldn’t see more than one boat length.

Icebergs to windward, an immediate thought, though they are not due here at all. Switch on the radar. Nothing. But in the morning the answer was clear. We’d come into soundings overnight–in over the continental shelf. The water was now green and cold. At noon I recorded a 24-hour water temperature drop of 24 degrees due to the upwelling, from 67 down to 43 degrees in a matter of miles.

Close hauled into a stiff chop until late afternoon. Speed: disappointing. I’m back into layers and a fleece hat.

As you can tell from the tracker, Mo and I are beelining towards Halifax, not St John’s.

Why?

Answer: it’s closer. Over the last week Mo has lost her wind vane and primary headsail (my two best friends); winds have been strongly contrary or light since I can recall, we’re low on fuel, and the east coast of Newfoundland is experiencing a record iceberg year.

This last item caught me off guard. I knew from the pilot charts to expect icebergs along my route, but if you look at the attached chart, you will see that the east coast is floating anywhere from 20 – 70 icebergs per square degree. Imagine icebergs, gale force northerly, fog–a very likely scenario. I need a plan for that. (Thank you to Tony and Connie for the chart.)

So I’m diverting to Halifax for a pit stop. A few days to a week.

As fortune would have it, Halifax (Lunenberg) has sailmakers and St John’s does not.

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May 29, 2019

Day 236

Noon Position: 41 14N  63 17W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): N 6 – 7

Wind(t/tws): S 20 – 30

Sea(t/ft): S 7 – 10

Sky: Overcast

10ths Cloud Cover: 10

Bar(mb): 1006+, falling fast

Cabin Temp(f): 70

Water Temp(f): 67

Relative Humidity(%): 67

Sail: Working jib, two reefs; running.

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 142 (YES, Mo can still pull miles)

Miles since departure: 31,128

Avg. Miles/Day: 132

Leg North Miles: 7,907

Leg North Days: 70

Avg. Miles/Day: 113

Wind still boxing the compass over a 24-hour period. Slow way through the water overnight, but we continued fast on a fast current setting to the N.

I came on deck at 2am to tack and noticed a strange shadow cast by my headlamp onto the #2 genoa. On closer inspection, the shadow resolved into a long tear in the sail from the protective cover at the foot all the way through two panels.

In the day was due a gale, so I hustled the sail down on deck, jammed it into a bag and hustled the spare into the sky, all before dawn. Winds were 15 knots from the south by the time I was done and 30 before noon.

All in all, I was lucky the sail didn’t blow entirely and that I could exchange it during a gentle phase.

Lumpy sea again today, but already it is relaxing. We’ve run fast and are now at the top of the low, which is rapidly falling to the east.

I’ve repaired Monte’s pendulum strut and pinion gears. The strut needed a bit of shaping due to burs on the gear I couldn’t access (or feel, for that matter), but that done, Monte is ready to go back together. Assembly is a ticklish business. One false move and the forty or so pieces that make up the strut and pinion go apart like a hand grenade. So I need a calm day for hanging.

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May 28, 2019

Day 235

Noon Position: 39 17N  61 32W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): WNW 5.5

Wind(t/tws): NNE 15

Sea(t/ft): NE 5+

Sky: Cumulus, lovely pillows

10ths Cloud Cover: 5

Bar(mb): 1015

Cabin Temp(f): 79

Water Temp(f): 74

Relative Humidity(%): 56

Sail: #2 and Main, close hauled on starboard

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 96

Miles since departure: 30,968

Avg. Miles/Day: 132

Leg North Miles: 7,765

Leg North Days: 69

Avg. Miles/Day: 113

Tacked at sunset and again at dawn. Wind came out of the NNW early but has now swung into the NNE and will swing all the way around overnight, just like last night and tomorrow night. We’re crossing traffic–i.e. the latitudes at which lows depart the NE coast and head out to sea. Today’s low was barely noticeable. Tomorrow’s will be strong.

Once bitten twice shy. This coming low is nothing compared to the last, but still, I’m trying to stay south of it and am taking pains to work west.

In the afternoon, I tackled Monte. Got the pendulum strut apart, a tougher than anticipated job due to bent and seized parts. Then did a dry fit of the strut onto the frame. It not only fits, but it swings freely, as per normal.

This is great news. This means Monte should go back together and be functional. The frame will still be out of alignment, but I’ll bet that can be handled by overcompensating on set courses and the “English” applied to the water paddle.

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May 27, 2019

Day 234

Noon Position: 37 45N  60 56W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): N 6

Wind(t/tws): WxS 10

Sea(t/ft): SW 4; to 2, all directions

Sky: Altocumulus

10ths Cloud Cover: 4

Bar(mb): 1013, falling slowly

Cabin Temp(f): 79

Water Temp(f): 70

Relative Humidity(%): 71

Sail: #2 and main, reaching on starboard

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 82

Miles since departure: 30,872

Avg. Miles/Day: 132

Leg North Miles: 7,669

Leg North Days: 68

Avg. Miles/Day: 113

Taking a recuperation day. Have focused mostly on sailing and a bit of cleaning. Winds were fresh in the morning–reefs in reefs out–but we sailed out of the stronger southwesterlies in the afternoon, and a new wind has failed to fill in. Now the sky is squally and the breeze has dropped right off.

We’ve spent the last five days tacking back and forth inside a box about 80 miles wide and 40 miles long but finally got above it at noon. Now every mile is a furthest north mile in the Atlantic.

Dolphins, a very large pod, passed by from S to N and played in Mo’s wake for a time. Some were quite sporty, jumping clear out of the water.

Mike at Scanmar reports that Monte’s frame may be bent back into shape.

As I type, Mo makes three and a half knots to the NNW.

“Now it is time for the patience game,” stated my friend Gerd. Seems to me that game has gone into overtime.

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May 25, 2019

Day 232

Noon Position: 37 08N 60 26W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): SE on drogue, 2-3 knots

Wind(t/tws): NNW 30+ (40 in the afternoon)

Sea(t/ft): NW 12+

Sky: Heavy overcast

10ths Cloud Cover: 10

Bar(mb): 1007, rising slowly (1004 was the low point)

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 34

Overnight, wind veers into the W and diminishes to 20 knots. I get some sleep, but Mo jumps like a startled hare on these seas, and staying wedged into my bunk is a game I lose once an hour.

By dawn wind has swung into the NW and is blowing 20 – 30 knots. On the chart plotter, Mo has passed through a perfect U-shaped course since I streamed the drogue and is now headed slowly SE. And I am relieved at the sea state, which appears to have suppressed all of the expected SW component during the night.

The NW wave train grows rapidly during the day as does the wind’s increase. By afternoon, its blowing 40 and seas are as large and steep as anything I’ve seen in the south. Crashers over the stern regularly.

Mo is buttoned up tight. Her running backs are set hard; the main is lashed to the boom and the boom is lashed to its crutch; lines are coiled down firmly, hatches are locked. On deck, the boat looks comfortable, riding easily on a vast plane of mountainous heavers.

But below is a chaos of motion and noise. I am repeatedly thrown. Sometimes when Mo falls off the backside of a wave, I go slightly airborne. Cupboards knock and bang, even though their contents are cushioned with wool socks and fleece. I try to write, then read. Then I give up and nap. Boat movement is too intense for anything but sleep.

By afternoon, seas tower over the boat and are breaking heavily, and Mo has taken a few of them square on the stern. But while in my bunk and attempting an essay by Jack London on Dana’s *Two Years before the Mast*, I feel a collision as if the boat has hit a wall. Then a grinding sound.

It takes a few moments to don foulies, but once on deck I see that Monte’s water paddle, lashed in the upright position so as not to catch the drogue bridle, is gone. From the stern, I see the torn lashing, and the paddle, though still attached, is mangled and dangling in the water. The wave has broken fully over the boat, lifted the drogue bridle up and over the secured water paddle, and ripped it down as the line came under load again.

The pinion gears have also been stripped out of alignment, and most amazingly, the frame is bent upwards by at least two inches on the starboard side. Though it freed by the time I got to it, the grinding I heard must have been the bridle continuing to pull at the Monitor assembly. This last revelation takes some time to see and is a shock. A damaged water paddle is like a parted shoe lace; a bent frame is a wreck of a different order.

I spend the next four hours working to get the paddle and the swinging pendulum off the frame. The quick release mechanism for the paddle is jammed and the paddle is broken free of the pendulum by swinging it back and forth at the bend until the metal fails. Removing the pendulum is much more challenging, as its main connecting pin has been jammed in its socket when the frame bent. Using a large hammer and dowel I finally get it pushed all the way toward the bow, only to recall that that is the wrong direction because it butts up against Mo’s gunwale before it is fully extracted.

Now the pin is stuck half out and the pendulum is dangling but not free. Once during this time, its lower, jagged edge catches on the drogue bridle, but luckily, within two waves it releases.

This entire exercise is like trying to do dental work while riding a mechanical bull. I’m crouched with knees braced to the gunnel and am using one hand to work, two hands for brief seconds. Often I have to abandon the job and jump up into the radar arch frame to avoid a gusher. I don’t know what to do, but, bottom line, the pendulum has to come off to avoid further damage to Monte and possible damage to the drogue.

I can hacksaw the pin, a one-inch stainless steel rod, or I can cut a small hole in the gunnel and continue drawing the pin forward. I opt for the latter, aluminium being the softer metal. Within five minutes I have the pendulum in hand.

Overnight I can hear from the lowering whine in the rigging that the wind is backig off. By morning, sun, but still, a ragged sea. I plan to be underway by autopilot by noon. Monte may be repairable, but it will take some time to rebuild the pendulum and pinion, and installation will take a much tamer sea.

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May 24, 2019

Day 231

Noon Position: 36 45N  60 57W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): NW 6 – 7

Wind(t/tws): SSW 20+

Sea(t/ft): SW 8 – 10

Sky: Low cumulus; frontal clouds

10ths Cloud Cover: 10

Bar(mb): 1014+, falling 2mb per 2 hours

Sail: Triple reefed #2, triple reefed main, reaching on port

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 89

4pm. Wind is increasing. The sky grows darker under scudding cloud. Seas are stacking up. And the barometer is still falling 2mb every two hours. I recall what David Burch says in Modern Marine Weather, that a drop of 2mb over three hours implies a strong blow coming.

I’ve made as much precious northing as I dare on the low’s SW winds, and as the day wears on, the scene becomes more intense than my read of the weather suggested.

I could try to sail the coming NW winds, due to be 35 knots by forecast, out and down, but unless I can take them on the beam, I’ll be headed back to the S for two days. And into a head sea of unknown size.

So, I decide to stop the boat and stream the drogue before nightfall. The boat should be plenty safe on the Jordan Series Drogue and I’ll preserve hard won northing.

The JSD is a marvel; it’s also a monster to handle; thus the desire to drop it while there’s light. And by 5pm it’s out; Mo is stern to the seas and tugging powerfully at the bridle.

There is some risk in this strategy. Strong winds will go from SW to NW over about twelve hours. How will Mo handle the confused seas that will produce? And the wild card is current. The Pilot Charts suggest there’s not much of any Gulf Stream action here. But the seas are big and have a somewhat “unnatural” appearance. Mo is also making 4 knots to the NW on drogue when 2 knots is more the expected.

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May 26, 2019

Day 233

Noon Position: 36 28N  60 19W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): W 5

Wind(t/tws): NNW 15

Sea(t/ft): NW 10

Sky: Cumulus

10ths Cloud Cover: 3

Bar(mb): 1017, steady

Cabin Temp(f): 72

Water Temp(f): 70

Relative Humidity(%): 63

Sail: #2 full, reaching. (Main after cleanup.)

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 35

Miles since departure: 30,745

Avg. Miles/Day: 132

Leg North Miles: 7587

Leg North Days: 67

Avg. Miles/Day: 113

Wind is down but we still have a stacked and vertical sea, which made hauling the drogue challenging for all the attention one needed to pay to hanging on.

The haul, 300 feet of rode with a tiny parachute-like cone at each foot, took two hours. My special plan, to run a line from the big genoa winch through a block at the bow and back to the drogue at the quarter, failed. The plan was necessary because the cones of the Jordan Series Drogue don’t like going round a winch. The fail was due to the line used for the drogue: Dyneema. It is simply too slippery for either rolling hitches in series or a doubled up prusik knot. So, the cones went around a winch, and the grinding was slow.

But done. And the drogue is coiled and stowed. And the tag lines are coiled and stowed. And Wattsy, the hydrogenerator, has been replaced in his stern bracket. And sails have been raised. And by a little after noon we were underway.

To the west, as wind is still out of the north.

Weather will be unsettled the next few days. But by Wednesday, we may get our wind.

I’m including a blue-sky photo from mere hours before the low settled in by way of illustrating the crossed winds rule. Two days ago I mentioned David Burch’s barometer rule, i.e a drop of 2mb in 3 hours suggests the approach of strong wind. Another indication is when wind at altitude is running across wind on the surface.

The rule: “stand with your back to the lower wind and if the upper wind is coming from the left, weather will normally deteriorate.” From Alan Watts *Instant Weather Forecasting.* (Southern hemisphere, from the right.)

In the photo, I am standing with my back to the left of the frame. Here we get a double whammy. The upper wind is coming in at a right angle to the lower wind, and above that, another wind layer is veered even further.

The next shot of Mo in cloud was ours two hours later.  

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May 23, 2019

Day 230

Noon Position: 36 30N 59 08W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): W 6

Wind(t/tws): NxW 15 – 20

Sea(t/ft): NW 10

Sky: Overcast

10ths Cloud Cover: 10

Bar(mb): 1021

Cabin Temp(f): 70

Water Temp(f): 71

Relative Humidity(%): 50

Sail: #2 genoa and main, two tucks, close reaching.

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 112

Miles since departure: 30,587

Avg. Miles/Day: 133

Leg North Miles: 7,428

Leg North Days: 64

Avg. Miles/Day: 116

Though the Pilot Charts suggest my route is a fair one, reality appears to be otherwise. My sense is that I made the turn north too soon, and that, combined with a cold spring, mean I’m out of position with the approaching lows, both of which are contrary coming and going.

How to slice them has flummoxed me all day. I run and rerun each new forecast trying to find the optimal path, and I just don’t see one.

The first is the larger of the two, and the most obvious strategy is to ride its southerlies to the north and east. But if I do that, I end up in the heart of the beast with forty knot winds that do an about face and blow from the north at forty the next day.

The wind velocity doesn’t worry me so much as the direction shift with high wind. Seas are, even now, pretty muscly. Far more importantly, by the time the low has passed, I’ll be east and downwind of St John’s.

To ride the winds out and down, say to the east and then southeast presents the same problem. And if I don’t make significant northing in this first low, then I have the same problem with the second.

Fifteen-thousand miles below 40S never presented this kind of problem, but then down there we were riding on top of the lows, not trying to carve a path through them.

By noon today Mo was already further east than I like, so l tacked around and have been sailing due west for several hours.

Tentative: I may sail due north on the coming southerlies and then ride out the northerlies on drogue. Not ideal as it puts me in the way of the second low.

When not running routing scenarios, I got the boat ready for heavy weather again. The dorade vents are now covered with their stainless steel plates; the floor boards are screwed down, the bilges are dry.

In the afternoon I gave Monte a little spa treatment by running new tiller and vane lines and tightening up on various nuts and bolts.

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May 22, 2019

Day 229

Noon Position: 36 36N  6116W

Course: ENE 6

Wind: NNW 20 -25

Sea: NNW 14

Sail: #2, three reefs, close reaching

Noon to Noon miles made good: 115

We’re biting into the underside of our first North Atlantic low. Winds are the stiffest we’ve experienced since Cape Horn, and are made to feel all the more so because I’m trying to reach to the NE in a strong northwesterly. I doused the main at noon, by which time the rail couldn’t keep its head above water. Mo is down to a triple reefed #2 and making six and seven knots.

What is surprising is the heft of the seas. This morning when the sun was still dominant, the water top looked like a potato patch shoal. But as the day has progressed, and wind built, the seas have stacked up in a way that would make the southern ocean proud. Fourteen feet is not a stretch.

I’ve been in foulies all day and for the first time in two months. Likely be in foulies for the duration.

It’s still, as they say in policing, an active crime scene, so I need to get back on deck.

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May 21, 2019

Day 228

Noon Position: 34 48N  62 05W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): NxE 5

Wind(t/tws): S 10

Sea(t/ft): S 3

Sky: Altcumulus. Looks like a front to the south

10ths Cloud Cover: 7

Bar(mb): 1019, falling. 1016.5 four hours later.

Cabin Temp(f): 82

Water Temp(f): 72

Relative Humidity(%): 67

Sail: Twin headsails out full. Running.

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 87

Miles since departure: 30,370

Avg. Miles/Day: 133

Leg North Miles: 7,211

Leg North Days: 62

Avg. Miles/Day: 116

Overnight, a steady wind filled in from the south. Light and weak as gossamer. On deck at 2am with the moon full overhead, I could not feel wind on my face as we made our 2.8 knots to the north.

Today is a different story. We are beginning to feed into a low coming down from the NE. Winds are 15 knots from the SSE. Mo is in lather. Though happy about this, I would be happier if the wind weren’t scheduled to be 25 knots on the nose by this time tomorrow.

But at least we will have *measurable* wind for a few days!

I’ve been dabbling in a classic of navigation known informally as Lecky’s Wrinkles. The full title is *Wrinkles in Practical Navigation by Captain Lecky,* published in 1925.

I don’t know about you, but I associate “wrinkles” with a small body of helpful hints and suggested improvements on a particular subject, sewing or painting a house or, in this case, celestial navigation. My only other experience of wrinkles is boat builder Thomas Colvin’s pamphlet-sized wrinkles in seamanship.

So imagine my surprise when Lecky’s arrived in the mail some months ago, a veritable brick at 756 pages before appendices.

Though a relic, I have found it easily as readable as contemporary works on the same subject, but the book’s age and heft have meant that when it flies across the cabin, it suffers unduly.

Thus, today, I tried a bit of open book surgery with that universal remedy, duct tape.

Back in shipping. It’s been a couple weeks since we’ve seen a commercial vessel, but yesterday three outbound bulkies appeared on the scope at one time, all stacked in the same lane and beelining for the Strait of Gibraltar. Mo was, of course, sandwiched in the middle, but we all had plenty of room.

Today, a tanker, the Minerva Atlantica, passed within a mile. She came out of the NE and was bound for a mysterious port listed only as USPGL.

Even from the start, the scope showed us on a collision course. Though as a vessel under sail, I have the right of way, I decided not to press the issue with 800 by 200 by 100 cubic feet of steel and petroleum product making a sluggish 9 knots; I took what the Rules of the Road call “early and significant evasive action,” which, in this case, was a turn to starboard of 30 degrees about 40 minutes before our closest point of approach.

The Minerva acknowledged this maneuver by doing absolutely nothing, which was fine by me.

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May 20, 2019

Day 227

Noon Position: 33 212N  62 09W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): NNE 4

Wind(t/tws): SExE 6

Sea(t/ft): E 3

Sky: Thin Altostratus

10ths Cloud Cover: 8

Bar(mb): 1024

Cabin Temp(f): 77

Water Temp(f): 71

Relative Humidity(%): 56

Sail: #1 genoa and main, reaching on starboard

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 78

Miles since departure: 30,283

Avg. Miles/Day: 133

Leg North Miles: 7,124

Leg North Days: 61

Avg. Miles/Day: 118

When I mentioned our slowness in the context of *regression to the mean* in a recent post, I was hoping the mean we finally regressed to would be something like 135 miles a day. In the last week, however, we’ve had only two 100-plus mile days. Mo can crank out 1,100 miles a week without coming up for air, but this week we logged but 651. So our mean just gets meaner and meaner.

We are finally above Bermuda, however, and have answered the question regarding on which side we’d take her. Port.

“Have you explained why your first stop is St John’s?” asked a friend recently, “Not New York, Boston, Camden, Lunenberg, Halifax, to name just, well, five?”

It is a good question, and the answer is simple: I never considered going anywhere else because a) St John’s is decidedly on the Figure 8 route and b) it has the required marine facilities and big grocery stores. And did I mention, it’s right on the route?

Actually, I did flirt briefly with the idea of Boston, thinking that goods there would be cheaper and marine facilities, more diverse. And though it does save some 500 miles of sailing on this inbound leg, Boston is so far west that it adds 1,000 miles to the leg up to the Arctic. So, I’ve decided to stick to the most logical stop.

St. John’s is less than a thousand miles north now. In any worthy wind, we’d be there before the end of the month. But when your average speed is 3.9 knots…you don’t do the when-do-we-make-port math.

Today’s Bodger

I’ve been worried about not having an anchor windlass switch. I have no plan to anchor prior to making port, but St John’s is in high latitudes and in the way of icebergs coming down from Greenland, this in a heavy iceberg year and an anticipated landing month that is not yet summer. Which is to say, I want to be ready to anchor in an emergency if need be.

Hot-wiring the switch is easy enough, but imagine hot-wiring in the dark of night in the rain on a cold, gale-racked and unfamiliar coast. Clearly, having a switch is better.

After scrounging around in the odd-bits box, I found a below-decks-only, three-way switch. It looks to be as old as the boat and unused. After installation and testing (it makes the windlass go), I packed its connections with dialectic grease, wrapped that in duct tape, doused the switch lever in penetrating oil, and wrapped the whole thing in a zip lock bag. All this care because the anchor locker is not remotely dry in a seaway, not to mention in the rain of a cold, gale-racked and unfamiliar coast.

I think this bodger ought to do until a

new switch can be acquired.

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May 19, 2019

Day 226

Noon Position: 32 04N  61 57W

Course(t)/Speed(kts): NWxN 2.5

Wind(t/tws): W 4

Sea(t/ft): NW 3, a steep chop

Sky: Clear

10ths Cloud Cover: 0

Bar(mb): 1024+

Cabin Temp(f): 88

Water Temp(f): 73

Relative Humidity(%): 48

Sail: #1 genoa and main, close reaching on starboard.

Noon-to-Noon Miles Made Good (nm): 99

Miles since departure: 30,205

Avg. Miles/Day: 134

Leg North Miles: 7,277

Leg North Days: 60

Avg. Miles/Day: 121

I let Mo ghost along the remainder of daylight hours and then motored all night to the NNW. There was still a slight breeze at sundown, but even before the horizon lost all color, the water went smooth. In the dark of night and under a full moon, it was like undulating grease.

At dusk, a Great Shearwater trailed Mo, swooping in close to the transom and then landing feet and head first. She’d keep her head underwater for some time searching the turbulence of Mo’s wake for prey, then bob on the water till almost out of sight. Then in she’d come again for another try. This lasted until she could no longer see. I never saw a catch.

A light wind from the west came up before dawn, a clear indication that we’d made it to the top of the High, and by 10am, I’d turned off the engine. However, this wind was accompanied by a chop from the north. The result is that our speed most of the day has been two knots. Mo just can’t get up a head of steam–spends most of her time going up and down rather than forward.

When I began preparing what was to be the first cooked dinner aboard Mo in many weeks, I found the propane tank to be empty. I left San Francisco with four twenty-pound (barbecue style) tanks and have now used two. The first lasted one hundred and sixteen days and the second, one hundred and eight. I did a fair bit of baking on tank two but have cooked no dinners since the cabin warmed up, which may account for the usage numbers being so close.

We’re seeing more plastic now. A few large items and even some “micro” plastics are visible in the calms. Early in the morning we passed an upside-down running shoe. This brought back macabre memories of the fields of plastic we passed in Murre in 2012 while headed north out of Hawaii. This was a year after the tsunami that hit the eastern coast of Japan. Then, it was said, the shoes you saw in the water had feet in them when they left the shore.

Don’t get the wrong impression from the photos. Plastic items are still widely dispersed and are far less numerous than a) sargassum weed or b) jellies, which are everywhere.