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Date: 15 Dec 2012 00:30:12
Title: NO WIND and what have we learned 2?

This trip does not come easy. Escaping to the West of 50degrees made us miss the thunderstorm but it left us with no wind.
The engine has been running since last night and it makes about 24 hours (Im writing at UTC 23). Local time on board is minus 3 hours now from UTC. Makes it easier with daylight and when we get to St Lucia.
So today we had lovely sunshine, big swell, no wind and 28 degrees C. Not sailing is boring but also less work, for some.
For the technician on board it is always check and check. And having a propeller rotating under the boat can mean a lot of mess with rope, fishing nets etc. So far the sea has looked extremely clean. We see no floating debris or anything. But our friends on Kaminante have had a big rope in their propeller. Diving off shore with a pounding 40 ton boat (yes Kaminante is big) above you must be scary.
 
We had two swim stops, and it looks amazing when you see Ellinor and the kids in the water and there is absolutely nothing around but sea. AND 4000 meters under! We always have one adult on board as the others swim.
 
Today I was thinking about what to write and thought that there are things we learned that we might forget once we are ashore.
Let's try.
 
Food
We eat less than we thought and the most popular dishes are very simple. Like tortillas with mashed potatoes and a sausage for the kids and with a tuma/mayo/onion mix for the adults. Or just soup and fresh bread.
We drink huge amounts of water. Personal bottles are the best. Less dishes and less spilling around glasses.
 
Being shorthanded
To be two adults running a 24 hour watch schedule with 2 kids that run a 8 hour sleep at night and 16 hours awake-let's play schedule is a challenge. It cost us performance. This means that if we set the gennacker and realize that the person on watch has to work the lines all the times, it comes down again. Reason being that most of the time we need to cook, clean, make kids happy and have some time to keep an eye for other vehicles. Now that in turn will cost us more days at sea, as you can see on the tracker we belong to the slow bunch.
A nightwatch will for instance do what's possible in performance without waking the other one. And we never leave cockpit when we are alone. So we will sail with one sail instead of two if we are running downwind, if that means less work.
Would we rather be more in the crew? Most boats in the ARC did take extra crew for the trip, we where an exception not to. I guess we would hate being in a situation in the Atlantic where things did not work out. And that happens. If we had someone extra it would be maybe someone in the family or someone we knew well.
Being shorthanded was also tought when we got sick in the beginning.
 
Kids on board
They are the best! The least worry. Andreas has also improved to be a very nice guy. You would maybe have a picture of them in a gale situation being afraid? I think if you would ask them about the gale, they would not know what you are talking about.
If the boat is shut because of the gale, they will notice nothing, if the waves pick up, they adapt.
BUT Erika will let you know about all the stars she saw falling last night!
They have more or less the saloon to play in, meaning we have LEGO everywhere.Tonight they had some kind of stores, so they drew fruits, milk packages you name it and cut them out of paper. You can imagine the mess, but they are BUSY and HAPPY!
We let them have the iPad in the beginning, but Andreas got very excited and could not relax afterwards, so we took it away.
 
Equipment and failures
First of all, old or new does not seem to matter. We hade more issues with new stuff than old. Mastervolt installation worth 4000 Euro does not have any control functions left. Mastervolt in Sweden does not respond to support questions.So I really don't know what to do other than cheat the system to get in control.
Raymarine network, plotters etc, works now but still has flaws, great support from Jason in Las Palmas.
The boat, what can you say? She is built for this.And we love her, especially the kids.We also understand that a 23 year old Hallberg Rassy is better built than now, at least from material thickness etc. Performance, probably not so good.
A 23 year old boat has also a lot of old equipment, old engine, etc and you have to keep an eye on them.
The engines I nurse like babies, hoping they reward me with just working and working. But sooner or later something will probably go wrong.
Chafe when sailing, well as long as you set up things extremely tight they seem to last. But the big enemy is weak winds and big waves, that kills everything. Sails go flapping, the rig shakes and your head is tortured by it, every bang you expect the sail to come down.
Mats the sailmaker at Gransegel assures us that the sun will break the sails not the flapping, but he agrees that the rigg takes punishment.
 
Sailing
We have learned that down wind sailing on oceans does not come easy. And that is probably easier than tacking against the waves and wind (wich is doen by some...) I think we have learned from this long haul that we should always try to avoid a 180 degree down wind situation. We have not been smart enought on that. The other thing is that we have to work out the genua with a boom, wich we do now. That helps to make more choises on the course towards goal. Well that does not sound like rocket science!
Believe me, when the boat is running downhill, at 7-8 knots, the wind howling in the rigg, you have just emptied your body into a bowl, the waves are big as houses and you are about to perform a space walk, then it all becomes rocket science.
 
Space walk, that is when we put on our harness, clip onto the safetyline on deck and walk out to work on deck. It is madness to hold a spinackerboom that weights 40 kilo when the boat is leaning 45 degrees on one side and then leans to the other side, about every 8 seconds. You look at your beloved and she nods, meaning you can raise it now. We are now just nodding and keep eye contact. Because we plan every step out there before leaving cockpit:
-I'll go midships, you go forward, we loose the springlines, I let go slowly you pull forward. When the boom is up front, I let the line loose, you hold on. I go to the mast and raise the boom. You walk with it.Boom up.
You go to cockpit and jibe the main. I  change blocks for the boom preventer. We meet at foredeck.Boom down, you take it forward, I lower it. Lines sorted out. I take line midships, you stay, let line go, I pull midships. We both fasten rock steady. I go to mast and tighten up the uphaul, you open the gate for the genua line.
We meet in cockpit, ready to fly the genua.
That is an half an hour to 45 minutes performance. In the beginning we just went out, and yelled back and fourth. The more wind the more yelling. Even the kids where asking: Are you angry at each other?
Now we work quite and faster. But it is hard work, in the heat now you are all wet after this job. And worse, sometimes the result is no good, we have to go back and do it the other way around again!
 
What we did not expect
How much work it was involved to prepare an atlantic crossing.
How fearful it looks in the beginning, but as you get used it's all OK
How big an ocean is, and empty, just water and fish and some birds.The last real wilderness.
How it changes all the time we knew, but that there was a rythm, that is new.
 
Well that was all for now from Salsa, I'm sitting in the cockpit, laptop in my knee, just a T-skirt on, black sky, no moon but stars, stars and stars! And going west means that Orion is our navigation star.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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