Pleasant Sailing and a Potential Problem

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 28 Dec 2013 05:12
Noon Position: 11 30.2 N 149 28.3 E
Course: North nor' west Speed: 5.5 knots
Wind: North east, F3 gentle breeze
Sea: slight Swell: North east 3 meters
Weather: mostly sunny, warm, and humid
Day’s run: 136 nm

Yesterday afternoon conditions started to moderate, so I set the staysail and shook out the third reef. By morning we were down to a gentle breeze so out came the second reef. We could easily put up the full mainsail in these conditions but there is still the odd squall about, thankfully a lot less than there were, and also with only the number three headsail and staysail up, the full main would put the rig somewhat out of balance and make the windvane work that much harder. Unfortunately events later this morning vindicated my concern about placing excessive strain on this vital piece of equipment.
We had a squall go past at eight thirty this morning. The wind freshened slightly so I put the second reef back in but unfortunately the squall passed clear to the north of us. I say unfortunately because I was actually looking forward to a nice shower and perhaps collecting some fresh water. Alas it was not to be, but then again, thinking about it, maybe it was for the best.
While conditions are fair I have been doing a few chores. The first was cleaning out the lazarette. With the boisterous conditions the lazarette hatch has been partially submerged a lot of the time with waves sluicing along the side decks and washing over the hatch. I knew the seals to the hatch were not perfect and were likely to be allowing some water into the compartment. So, with the sun shining and the seas relatively smooth, I opened up the hatch, pulled out crates of paint tins and other odds and sods, and sponged the lazarette dry. It wasn't too bad, maybe half a bucket, but I felt better having cleaned it out and knowing how much, or little, water had gotten in. Another little chore to attend to in Naha will be to improve the seal on the hatch.
I also took the opportunity to give the windvane a thorough inspection. The windvane, as mentioned, is an essential piece of equipment for a single hander. It works continuously, and often very hard when the wind and seas are up, as they had been over the last several days. As I looked over the stern I was dismayed to discover that one of the struts had broken, a weld had failed. This meant that the remaining strut was doing most of the work and indeed working much harder as some of the forces were working through more acute angles. I pondered the problem for a while, contemplating various options, and after a little thought decided that a timber splint held in place with hose clamps would be the best solution until we can get to port and have it repaired. With 1,500 miles to Okinawa and less than 300 to Guam, I am wondering whether I should seek permission to make an emergency stop there. Something I shall investigate.
For now the sailing is very pleasant.
All is well.