Day 16 Tuesday, 19 December 2006
I did not get up to 15 knots of wind, but I maintained a pretty steady 10, sometimes 11 or 12, which was fine. When the other boats near me checked in on the radio the in the evening they all had had 15-18 or 20, how can this be. I was at 14.44N 50.39W and they reported iin as 15.03N 49.57W, 14.52N 51.00W and 13.53N 51.14W. I was right in between the last two just a little way behind, I wouldn t have minded quite so much if I had not had the big seas that went with the wind I should have got.
It was not a good day for shackles, the ones I had put on the genoa decided they did not like each other. I did it again and this time did tighten them up with the spike and tie them up with string and they were still there this morning.
The other casualty was on the Duogen, just the shackle that keeps the retrieval line on the handle. So I have about a week to work out how to get a rope round it to pull it up.
I decided to start book 5, I needed something light and funny, which to be fair the one I just finished was. I had a choice of a crime thriller, an engaging friendly novel, a score of characters inescapably locked with their destinies, a mothers courage in the face of overwhelming odds or one other. I chose the other one because it looked like chic-lit from the title. The amazing guy, soulmate, etc was dead on page 1 and by page 20 and on and off for the rest of the day I was in tears.
With the lack of wind I decided it would be a good day to sort out the watermaker. I have sent an e-mail to the manufacturers and they are looking into my questions. I had eventually worked out the difference between biociding and cleaning it. I thought a good alkaline clean would do the trick, whilst waiting for the reply. I have to put the motor on to run the watermaker, but this had to be done sometime. I followed the instructions to the letter, I even put in a new pre-filter cartridge. I did well until the recirculation of the cleaner, I had 4 litres go in and none recirculated, so I put some more water in to see and still none came out; this is not that big a system that it can take 6 litres of water and hide it. I started again with another 4 litres of cleaning solution, like this would make a difference, no still none came out. But being ever hopeful I left it to soak (empty!) for 5 hours. Then I had to run it again, but there was nothing in there to run. Time to have another look at the diagrams. Evidently the reject brine hose in cleaning is not the same as the reject brine when running – I thought that one was an air vent. So I disconnected that hose and tried again. New 3 litres of solution, there must have been about a litre in the pre-filter housing and the system generally. This time it worked, so simple when you know; I left it overnight to soak. Hanging over the side of the cockpit locker for about an hour has left me with sore ribs.
I know I should have put the excess solution into a bottle until the morning, but I thought it would be ok in the bucket in the locker, it wasn t that windy and the boat rides the waves.
I was up every hour to change tack all night. I do not like the dark, I just want it to be daylight again. If I could swap 6 days and nights for 12 days, I would. 8am it is still dark and it had been raining, but now it decided to be a 25 knot squall, thanks. The speed was 7.6 and 8.2 knots, and that was the boat, previously that had been the wind speed. And the solution is still in the bucket in the locker? I did not even look until neary 11am, it wouldn t make any difference if it was all spilt, and I have got to the stage where although I do care really, my general reaction is to tell someone who gives a toss. I am probably just weary.
I made a cup of tea while the boat needed to be gybed, well get the other guy to do it. I let it get to .31nm off course and then I relented and put down my partly drunk tea and changed tack. It doesn t take very long, I am extremely proficient at it now, but pulling the rope does make your hands sore, should I wear gloves. All I need is a bit of strength, which seems to be eluding me. I used to be able to change tack without a problem and without the need for the winch handle, but not just lately. The wind is stronger, not constantly enough to be logged, just when I have to pull the ropes.
I am hungry, but totally uninterested in anything I have on the boat, even the cake – I could not face custard again, except of course the dwindling chocolate reserve.
Actually the solution does appear to be in the bucket and I have to recirculate it for another hour. I am going to find some way to extend the hose so that it reaches the bucket without me having to hold it there. Give me something to do this afternoon, as long as the wind is not too much.
I did get a couple of e-mails from the manufacturers and firstly they just said biocide it now, I cannot quite understand why. The follow up said definitely biocide it now and all these questions that I cannot possibly answer at the moment. They think there is a problem with the pump and can I send it back for them to look at. Difficult at the moment and when I arrive this will be the one time in its life that I need the watermaker, so I don t intend to, but I am waiting to see.
I seem to have a lot of things that need sorting when I arrive, the most worrying is the bracket on the transom, I really do not want to have to lift out to sort it, but I cannot live with it like this. I need to seal that and then see if I do still get water in the bilges. The other worry is the duogen, my batteries are not very charged, but that is probably correct. The power cables to the Duogen go across the transom and I have to get round them every time I am sorting the water in the back and they are very taught. I won t be happy that it is working ok until I put it in wind mode and see it thumping the voltmeter up.
And I think my computer is seasick. It has been playing up, but this morning opened me 54 internet explorer and 4 help sessions before I had even started. Now my little robot keeps asking me - what would you like to do, and when I tell it I get – I do not understand. Please rephrase the question. I have turned him off, but I just get the normal help screens, repeatedly for about 20 minutes at a time before I can continue. This is not helping my fragile mental state.
AND NOW IT IS RAINING AGAIN. Another joy of downwind sailing is that the rain comes straight in to the boat. Cleans the floor I suppose.
Now to send this I have to put the sat phone where it has an unobstructed view of the sky, but it s raining. Some days it all seem a bit too much.
Yesterday I covered 110 miles, 1660 in total with 450 to go.
Within 450 miles of the Caribbean I expected it to be warm and sunny and I have just had to close the companionway up for the first time in the whole trip. I feel like putting in a complaint to the cruise company, it didn t mention this in the brochure, but they will only say that the weather is not part of the ABTA bond.