Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ocean mysteries

Before leaving Niafu I checked the Hydrovane bolts. To do this I first remove the U shaped seating that occupies the aft end of the cockpit, and then open two circular inspection ports that screw into the vertical face of the transom. Reaching through as far back as I can, with my armpit against the edge of the inspection port I can just manage to apply a Vise-Grip to the nut after a lot of fiddling around. Then I tighten the bolt from the outside, and repeat for the other bolt. They both required about 1/4 of a turn - hardly anything. As I happen to have a piar of vise-grips, I decided to leave one one each nut for the duration, and so today when I checked the bolts all I needed to do was lean out over the back of the boat with the correct socket and tighten it up again - in fact they were both still nice and tight, but it was almost a pleasure to check them so simply for once. I shall do it each day.

The fresh wind and sea we encountered yesterday afternoon and overnight has slowly settled, as predicted but we still have a nice 18 knot breeze which has gone round almost to the east, so our broad reach has turned into a run and the headsail is poled out to port. If the wind goes much further around I may need to gybe onto starboard but it isnt forecast to do that so I shall wait and see. We've been making around 5.8 knots +/- .4 most of the afternoon, after a 24 hour run of 120nm, which is a good run for Sapphire. I gave myself an interesting lesson on balancing sail during the day, as I let out more and more headsail and then took one of the reefs out of the main : at one point our course on the chart plotter was a sinuous sort of scalloped track as the boat would turn up so that the main was backed briefly and then we would turn away and gain speed and then start again. I think what I worked out was there wasnt enough main, or else too much headsail, because once I took out a reef in the main, our path smoothed out to just where I wanted it. We are heading for a point somewhere south of Nuku Songa reef which is 90nm away but well north of two litle blue circles, one of which is labelled "Obstruction: always submerged, 3.6mters, 1979" and the other says "Obstruction: always submerged;Shoals rep 1993" Its hard to imagine what these are as they emerge from water reported everywhere around them to be over 2000 meters deep, but my curiosity isnt going to get the better of me. Having said that, I have noticed in the past the boats tendency to be drawn to places that I dont want it to head towards, so as I did last night, I will be extra vigilant tonight in checking our position and heading.

My nausea and anxiety have almost disappeared completely now so I am starting to enjoy the rhythm of the sea and the boat again, and tonight will cook a 'proper" meal of pasta with tinned fish and sauce. I had cheese lettuce and tomato sandwhich for lunch, and for breakfast, cereal after half a pawpaw and a cup of tea. I forgot to bring lollies this time but I have chocolate biscuits for the first time ever, and Bluebird potato chips for treats.

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