Dec 082012

The leg started with a most annoying thing: We discovered our cooker did’nt work. It has not been used for a long time, and now it was dead. Well the oven worked, but not the stove. So the first dinner was cooked in the oven, and the next day I took it apart. Actually, it needed a good cleaning anyway! It turned out the fuel pump was dead. I thought it was maybe just stuck, so I tried banging it around a bit, which made it start to tick again. I happily thought that was it, and put the stove back together. But no joy, it still didn’t run, even though the pump was now ticking. Take apart again, and this time I also found a small piece of rubber stuck in a connection. It was blocking the flow. Now I tested it before putting it in again, but it STILL wasn’t working. Turns out the non-return valve was leaking too. I tried for hours to fix the valve, which has really really tiny parts, but all I got was a half working valve with a small leak. Desperate for hot drinks and food I ended up building a seal inside the valve (from diesel resistant sealant, using a sewing needle). That got it working sort of. The stove is not as good as before, but we can cook, while we wait for spare parts to arrive…

The winds have been quite nice to us on this leg. I think over 80% has been on a broad reach. The prevailing winds are westerly, so no big surprise. But still nice. We did have to motor on two occasions for about 5 hours each, when the wind came from behind and was too feeble to be useful.

I was also very happy that the two new unexperienced crew members had very moderate amounts of seasickness, not even enough to be problematic.

The abundance of sealife in the shallow waters off Mar del Plata was spectacular. Dolphins, whales, seals and many many different birds. The seals had an interesting habit of sleeping together in small groups, upside down in the water.

I think this leg has offered one of the most rapid climate changes I have ever experienced. From shorts and T-shirt while sailing to full winter gear and heater running in basically just 1 day of heading south. This is what it looked like:

Smooth sailing on the Brazilian coast

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Feb 292012

We’ve had really light winds lately. This is sometimes challenging, especially when coming from behind. The swell makes the sails flog when the wind is so light that there is little pressure on them. And this flogging under no load causes a lot of wear and tear on the sails. To avoid it you have to head up closer to the wind, which means zig-zacking very slowly downwind. Sometimes our VMG has been as low as 3 knots. But right now we have no hurry so it is OK.

We passed the Abrolhos Archipelago, which is a beautiful natural preservation park, and also hangout for Frigate Birds and turtles.

We had a rather pretty sunset the first night anchored out there:

South of Abrolhos there is plenty of oil and gas production activity. We passed this funny crossover between a ship and a drilling platform, which had over 25 anchors to hold it in place:

All in one day…

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Nov 232011

We crossed over the short hop from Tenerife to La Gomera. It was quite an interesting day. To the south of Tenerife there was no wind at all, which would have been boring save from the fact that there was plenty to look at. Plenty of whales in particular.

These are Pilot Whales. They seem to life a good life. Gently and lazily floating around at the surface. We saw maybe 20 of them. And heard them, their breathing is very audible on a still day.

As we got closer to Gomera the wind picked up to 30 knots and we had a nice speedy sail.

We have had trouble with our bow thruster, however. So getting into the small crowded marina in La Gomera was difficult in the strong wind. With Journeyman’s single propeller and dual rudders there is no way to generate turning moment when the boat is still. So to be able to manoeuvre I need to keep the boat moving. We got very close to smashing the boat against a concrete wall, missed it by about 3 cm at high speed. Then, with the help of some other cruisers, we got the boat pulled into place properly.

I really hope that the Max-Power people (the manufacturers of the bow thruster) will be able to ship us a new one. The current one has had a gearbox failure after only a little over a years use. We are very handicapped without it.