logo Gudrun V
Date: 18 Feb 2011 11:59:53
Title: Squalls

Day 14, Friday, 18.02.2011, 12:00 UTC, 19:04.0N 44:14.5W, 25°C, 1014 mBar

Yesterday the wind left me in the morning and didn't come back until late in the afternoon. The sea was quiet, bright blue as the sky, and I and Gudrun were baking in the sun. I was glad that Gudrun has no windows, because it stayed relatively cool down below. I resisted the urge to go swimming (Chicken, I know), but sat on the bathing platform and let my feet drag in the water. Despite not the slightest breeze the boat was pushed along by the waves and current with 2kn. 2kn, hmmm, that's 1:40 on 100m. Not a world-record time, but not just paddling along either.

When the wind picked up again I let the parasailor fly. I removed the steel snap shackles and simply used a bowline for the sheets and downhauls. It made a big difference in the light wind of only 5kn, because the sail didn't have to generate that extra lift and flew much better.

In the evening the wind picked up for real, as did the swell, and I saw dark clouds coming up from behind me. All through the night I was busy dodging squalls, which could be easily seen as big black towering clouds on the sky, and as big purple dots on the radar. But in the morning the bastard's cornered me. One to the left, one to the right, and another one was heading straight down on me. I quickly put the parasailor in the bag as the wind began to increase and just made it through the companionway and into my bunk as the first raindrops started to fall. I slept as the wind and rain passed over me. And then some more, because I was really tired.

This morning the tradewinds are back, and the genoa is out.

I'm still a little dismayed that the Iridium 9555 simply stopped working yesterday, in the middle of a grib download. I had selected the Iridium phone (instead of e.g. a HF SSB installation) because it seemed like the simplest, most reliable and overall cheapest way to get my weather forecast at sea and stay in touch. After it broke the first time (repaired free of charge) and I bought the spare phone I'm now on par with an HF radio installation regarding the financial commitment (Transceiver, Antenna-Tuner, Pactor, Wires, Connectores and bits and pieces for the SSB add quite up).

I just hope Iridium (or rather Motorola) will repair that one free of charge too. They really should. And improve the design on the next one. I mean, come on. Two weeks at sea is no time at all, and I didn't even have it outside. But despite the money, it's just not a happy feeling having to rely on something that let you down two times already. Apparently the predecessor, 9505, is more rugged. Maybe I have to look into alternatives again. I still have 430 minutes on my account though, because you have to buy 500 minutes minimum per year in advance.

Actually, how come all the supposedly tough stuff (SPOT, Iridium, Navionics gear) keeps braking and the ordinary consumer electronics (Netbook, Camera, EBook, iPod, Flashlight) is holding out so nicely? I'm not treating them any different. If anything, I take more care of the "important" equipment. Is the household of the common consumer maybe even worse than the marine environment? (Thinking of kidds, pets, washing machines ...)

1070nm and, it looks like, about a week to go. Any bets out there regarding what is going to break next? Will I make it to St. Martin with a single electronic device still operational? Or will the circuit-board devouring spirit of the sea claim them all? This and more in the next episode. Stay tuned! ;-)

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