Day Seventeen - Light Winds
Fri 31 Dec 2021 00:35
Course: E Speed: 5 knots
Wind: N, F4 Sea: slight
Swell: W, 2 meters
Weather: overcast, cool
Day's Run: 121 nm
"I hate storms, but calms undermine my spirits." -Bernard Moitessier
We continued to enjoy fresh fair winds yesterday afternoon but last night, as per Wayne's forecast, the winds fell light and variable. We had just enough breeze to continue sailing for most of the night without the mainsail slatting too heavily in the unrelenting westerly swell, but by 0500 the breeze had fallen away completely and the main was doing nothing but bashing itself, the rigging and my nerves to pieces as Sylph rolled with each passing undulation. I dropped the main and motored for a bit, not so much to make ground but to give the engine a run and to make the ride more comfortable, plus put some charge into the batteries.
I also took the opportunity to do some fault finding on the DC-DC battery charger but in the end had to admit defeat. It just isn't working the way it is supposed to, so seeing as I cannot replace it out here I am going to have to go back to more manual means of charging the house batteries, namely by connecting both battery banks when running the engine and monitoring the voltage. The other part of the charger, the solar controller, does not appear to work either, so here also I am going to have to switch them in and out manually while monitoring the battery state - all quite manageable but a bit of a nuisance.
Another nuisance that has arisen with another change I made to Sylph in preparation for this voyage is the way the lazy jacks come off the boom-bag/rain-catcher. The after most lazy jack is much further aft on the boom-bag then my previous set up so when I have a second or third reef in the main and go to shake them out, the end of the lower battens tend to get caught in the aft lazy jack line. This is then quite difficult to unsnarl and has thus far involved reaching out, at times somewhat precariously, with a boat hook to pull them clear. Now with the mainsail down completely, getting the sail back up without coming fully into the wind to prevent the lazy jacks from getting caught in the battens is all but impossible. Previously, I used to pull the lazy jacks clear by pulling them forward; however, with the new geometry the lazy jacks do not have enough slack in them to pull them fully clear. My solution has been to tie another line from the after-most lazy jack leading forward to the mast so that I can pull them clear of the mainsail leech when needed from the relative security of the mast. It isn't the tidiest arrangement but hopefully it will work, at least for when I need to shake out the second or third reef.
Now the wind has returned from the north. Both main and jib are set and drawing firmly as Sylph beam reaches on the port tack, continuing her quest towards the ever-receding eastern horizon.
Coconut lies some 520nm ahead, and Cape Horn 4500nm.
All is well.