Heading ‘True North’

Saturday, April 22, 2017

It’s 8:23 am and I have caught up on some sleep that was donated, to keep us on the best course and move along top speed through the night. We’ve had some fickle winds the last 18 hrs. Either on the nose or just not strong enough to keep us on course.

I spent a bit of brain power debating which tack is best and tried out a few of my theories several times in the middle of the night and suffice it to say, looking back I would have been better to take all sail down and go to bed. Such is the benefit of hindsight. Here in the light of day I am trying not to make the same mistake. The overwhelming consensus is that heading north is the best tack at the moment.  

The air is lovely and cool in the evenings and not too warm during the day, which is perfect for life on board. 

Today I have been becalmed for hours so going a little crazy even thoughI have been here literally one hundred times before so I know how to do calm. Thanks for your email they are a real life saver. Trying hard to head north and get more wind. Overhead I noticed I’m on the flight path to and from Hawaii so it’s reassuring to know I am headed in the right direction.  It’s a beautiful bright day and not too hot. Still feel the effects of my all nighter last night so been trying to nap in between pushing WW II homeward.

Found an interesting problem this morning while checking the engine. The bracket on the motor mount that I had repaired in Gisborne has broken, so no more powering! I can run the engine but can not put it in gear because it is so out of line. That must have happened last night while I was powering. Can’t do much about it and it seems to be stable so I will just keep an eye on it. This old girl needs some TLC when we get home.

I had a great ploughman’s lunch today, cheese and crackers and nice little tomatoes, mmm good.

As usual, we’ve had our fair share of malfunctions but with a great deal of fumbling and perseverance, I’ve managed to keep West Wind II afloat and moving along. Our communications systems have been intermittent. The ham radio works to talk to the Pacific Seafarer’s Net each afternoon with Peter Mott,  ZL1 PWM in Russel in the Bay of Islands, Randy KH6 RC and Jane NH7 TZ in Hawaii along with a large group of very dedicated volunteers from around the Pacific Rim help MaryLou keep track of her wayward husband. (Editor’s note: And you’re all doing a fantastic job!) There is an online program that lets her listen to me while I transmit my daily report and facilitates her getting real time audio messages from me. (You can listen in as well here.)

The other capability I have on board is sending email through the ham radio while I’m hooked up to a Pactor Modem using a program called Winlink. This is what I will use to send this blog posting, hopefully. After many tens of thousands of salty ocean miles, we’ve developed a loose connection, for lack of a better excuse, which makes sending my messages a bit like winning the lottery. I think if you could see the expression on my face when I plug in the modem and push the button and a message comes up saying ” Com 4 does not exist on this computer” you’d see crushing disappointment with a small curl of rage. Conversely, when it does connect and the lights flash, well you could probably hear my joyful shouts from where you are.  

After a complete failure of the ham radio when I left New Zealand, I had to turn back and get it fixed. After that we decided to purchase an InReach tracker, a devise about the size of a flip top Marlborough cigarette package. This small device sends out a signal every 30 minutes and lets the world know where I am. It also can be used to send text messages, well that’s if the user possessed the ability to do so! At this point, that is not me and do you think I can overcome that little cigarette box full of electronics to send a simple text message?  Not a chance. This must be so frustrating for MaryLou, who is a wizzard at such things (Editor’s note: He’s exaggerating), and hasn’t be able to teach me so far. Don’t get me wrong.  ML has the patience of a saint, I’m just a bit slow on the
uptake here.

I have been rattling on a bit here and I’m not even half way through my list of challenges so I’ll spare you and save them for a future installment.

First I’ll try to send this blog post. Wish me luck, here goes.

Cheers Glenn at Sea

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