John and Susie Blair.
Mon 3 Dec 2012 16:06
Didn't take long did it? We're on the home run now with a mere 1290 miles to go! As you can see from the position reports I send via Sat phone we are beginning our descent in latitude towards 13 degrees with our bow now pointing at Barbados. We'll soon feel the warm Bajun sand between our toes and can't wait.
Well the weather had taken a nose dive since the last report here with near gale force winds (and well over at times with rain squalls up to 40 knots) we've been broad reaching with 20% Genoa and one reef in the mains'l surfing down big seas at great speed with heavy rain wiping out visibility so watchkeeping pointless and all crew below decks in the dry while the electric pilot did the steering.
It was at the peak of these conditions at 3am this morning that after nearly 2000 miles the autopilot broke! Ross hand steered in the lashing rain while I attempted to rig the secondary autopilot, the Monitor Windvane. I say attempted because it too had developed problems of it's own! a tiny circlip had corroded causing a failure of mechanical parts that had me hanging over Chelone's stern to remove. Anyway, after an hour of messing about with it we finally had it working and steering beautifully so we handed the watch over to Louise and hit the sack.
Later on in daylight I plundered the spares box and replaced worn cogs in the electric pilots gearbox so it's up and running again now though we've decided to give it a rest and continue with the Monitor as it requires no electrical power.
So what else has been happening? Ross has been busy compiling his CV ready to email off to agencies on arrival in Barbados, I had to stitch another tear in the Mains'l, fish have been caught but not landed, Martin baked a lovely huge loaf of bread, and talking of food all the fresh meat is now gone, no more smoked bacon and the frozen chicken breast is a distant memory.
We do however have enough tinned foods to continue for a circumnavigation of the planet! Tuna, ham, soups, fruit, veg, beans etc. Loads of Chorizo, Olives, cereals, Pasta and sauces, loads of eggs..... though we're down to our last half ton of Rice!
As I write, Martin is kneading another loaf and the sun is shining outside, the forecast is for this lovely fresh following wind to continue for a day or so then fall away to around ten knots though southeasterly so hopefully enabling us to set our third sail, the Stays'l or pole out the Gennaker. Even if the wind dies we still have 370 litres of fuel which gives us an endurance of over eight days motoring.
Flying fish have flown onto our decks and soon we'll surely sight Tropic and Frigate birds as we near Caribbean waters, we'll keep you posted. The evening check in with Herb is the focus of our evening and every night more boats are checking in (at present around 25) the majority are American sailors making their way south to the Bahamas and West Indies, some making their way along the Columbian coast towards Panama another Cuban bound etc. It's interesting to hear their check in and Herbs advice to them. One chap who failed to get Herbs attention last evening we called and he said it was just himself and one other delivering a 35 footer to the BVI sharing 6 on 6 off watches in bad conditions 400 miles behind us after leaving the Canaries, we're going to work a relay to Herb for him tonight if he's still unsuccessful.
So there you go, another few days passed, catch up again soon, JB.