Atlantic Ocean Day 5 Noon Position 26:56.694N 73:04.366W

Bill and Judy Stellin
Tue 6 May 2008 18:43
Well, the pondering is over.  Judy pondered, I pondered and we agreed Charleston will be our destination.  Why Charleston.......because it is a beautiful city, ( I've been there but Judy hasn't) and it is at the end of the line we've been sailing for the past five days.  Also, I had an investment advisory client that bought one of the antebellum homes there and he may still live in it.  It would be fun to drop in after 9 years. Yeh, Judy says, just drop in, not a chance without an invite.  Now how are you going to get an invite.  We will just drop in.
Our sailing last night was not without some drama.
Ahead of us at dusk and then when it got really dark, all we could see was lightning.  We thought it best to reduce sail in case a squall hit us.  We didn't experience any bad weather but we didn't put all the sail up just in case.  We sailed most of the night with only the genoa out on the pole.  It was quite peaceful but the downside was that we only traveled at about six knots. The wind was not quite directly behind us so using the main and genoa would have been futile as the main would have blocked  genoa.  At one point we put up the spinnaker with the main, but the rolling was so bad we took it down for fear it would wrap around the head stay.  We even tried the spinnaker without the main so as to keep it as full as  possible, but that didn't prove to be as effective as just the main on one side and the genoa winged out on the other.
With the coming of dawn today, we put everything back up until we had a little spot of bother.
With all due respects, that phrase, spot of bother, is the title of a book I just finished by a funny author Mark Haddon.
It's about a dysfunctional family wherein the father has a nervous breakdown because he thinks he is dying of skin cancer, his wife is having an affair with his best friend, his son is gay and his neurotic newly divorced daughter is marrying a guy no one in the family likes.
I digress, pardon the unfocused minute.
The spot of bother, yes.  We passed through some very unsettled weather during the night and awoke to even more as it got light.
About an hour into morning I looked behind us at the squall lines and noticed something that looked suspiciously like a tornado.  It was, (a water spout at sea) and it was bearing down on us at about 30 miles per hour.  We had all the sails up including the spinnaker pole holding out the genoa.
You could see this big fat column of dark, swirling up into the cloud above and a huge amount of water at the base being flung high into the air.  You could actually see the circular rotation of the column.   I estimated the column to be about a mile across.  It wasn't one of those wimpy water hose like spouts you see in the lake.  This thing meant business.
We rolled up the genoa in a flash, but then had to turn the boat directly into its path in order to drop the main.  We did both in record time and then turned at right angles and motored the hell outta  there.  It passed by very near us and gave us one big scare.  The water flying around at the base looked just like a tornado does when it is flinging houses, trees, and cars on land.
Now we are in some very light winds and have had to turn the motor on to help the main.  On top of that we are in some kind of weird counter current against us, slowing us by about a half a knot.  In a couple of hundred miles up ahead we should begin to feel the current of the Gulf Stream.  It will be interesting to see what effect it will have on us because we will not be in it for long as we cut diagonally across it to Charleston.  I suppose if we are not careful, it could sweep us right by Charleston.  For that portion of the sail, I will just put the auto pilot on "track" and let the GPS and pilot sort it out.  That way the correction will be automatically done.
Last night, in our rolling I heard a very loud sound that came from somewhere near the cockpit.  It was a sharp click and for the life of me I couldn't find out where it was coming from.  Now there are all kinds of odd sounds on  a sailboat but this one was driving me nuts.  It was so loud I couldn't fathom the thought of not finding out what it was and where was it coming from.  I looked and looked everywhere with no luck.  It was incessantly intermittent.  Not regular.  I would think I had it solved and five minutes later it would occur again.  It only happened on deep rolls of the boat.
When Judy came out on her watch at 2AM I told her about it.
At 5AM when I came back out from a very restful sleep, Judy had her head deep into a locker looking for the fool sound.  It had been driving her crazy all her watch also.  She never found what it was, but solved all sorts of other problems that never existed.
After I had breakfast, I began in earnest to find this bloody nuisance.  All sorts of things were going through my mind about what it might be and none of them were good.  Like the keel ready to fall off, the auto pilot ready to pack it in, those kinds of nutty things.
We had narrowed the source down to somewhere on the port side under the cockpit.
The storage locker under the seat in the cockpit is about as big as a hall closet so it is filled with stuff, all of which had to come out so I could get in.  Finally, and only with a bit of luck, I found a spare, round, heavy  zinc anode (I'll explain what they are some other time) rolling on a shelf and hitting the side of the hull.  It was wrapped up in plastic so you couldn't tell what it was, until by accident, I touched it and it rolled and there was the click.  If these things were not a necessary item on boat in salt water and the fact they cost about $15, I would have thrown it overboard.  Anyway, mystery solved and no need for more worry about the keel falling off.
If this journal seems a little more lighthearted, it is because I am out of the bloody Caribbean and I am getting my mojo back working.  I love long passages and would do a crossing again in a heartbeat.