Ships, donks, and a lively rip

Rich Carey
Wed 4 Apr 2018 16:27
06:41.742N 080:19.349W

My animal sanctuary destination is bang on the Equator, so if plan goes good, I will be there in six and a half degrees.

Day one out of Panama was a bit dull, almost 24 hours required just to clear the bay and be in the open pacific. But as forecast, there was some wind (probably the only real wind of this passage), so I was able to sail quite nicely for two thirds of the day. That's good for fuel conservation, but alas it will not be enough. In no wind conditions I can do 5x 24 hour days on the two inboard fuel tanks - then I need to siphon fuel from the Jerry cans (a heavy and laborious task lugging the heavy cans around a moving boat, and balancing them for the transfer), or pump it from the barrels. The barrels would be way easier, but in Galapagos if I decide to refuel (likely, as prudent, even though I have more than most would, to get me to the Marquesas), I may have to do it via the jerry cans (no marina, just anchored), so need empty cans. So, that little fuel saving won't be enough to alleviate the 'lugging and balancing', but no worries, that's sailing or rather 'motoring'!

So most of the day I did nothing of note. Watched two movies, one I already can't remember (!), but the other called 'Me before you', was a most enjoyable comedic love story tragedy! The female lead is the 'Mother of Dragons' from 'Game of Thrones' - very easy on the eyes, and a super confident, fun, actress.

The night was mainly just lolling, but there were a few interesting items.

I bought an excellent countdown timer for solo sailing. As I was in a fairly well trafficked area, I set it for 30 mins and when it goes of, just one click and the countdown starts again. I check the radar and AIS plotter charts (way better than using your eyes, for sure), and all being good, loll some more. As there is traffic around, you don't really sleep, checking the charts quite often - the clock is just a backup incase you do get over tired. Once in the open Pacific, I'll set the clock for an hour because the charts have a very important facility - Guard Zones. Here I tell the AIS plotter to 'alarm' if a ship is going to pass within 1 mile of me (it does this 3 minutes before the ship is within one mile), and the Radar Plotter to alarm if a persistently plotted object (cuts out wave reflections), comes within 3 miles of me. Belt and braces. These facets of the system are wonderful and work perfectly as stated. Around 16:00 yesterday, I was miles out in the bay (no land in sight), and the radar guard zone alarm went off. The target was so small it was a few minutes before a blip indicated it's relative position on the screen. In the meantime I had stared, confused, all around me, eventually spotting a small fast moving navy boat (the size of a car), crossing a couple of miles astern of me. No idea what they were up to, but they weren't interested in me. Even if I did watches like a swimming pool life guard, I wouldn't spot things like that, at least not until they were really close, so these guard zones are excellent.

Live update: I just noticed the wind direction indicator started doing 360's. Six knot tailwind, and six knot speed over ground - that'll do that - sails hanging like sheets drying on a windless day in the garden - bummer!

Things got a little lively at 20:00. I made a stupid move that I've done more than once before, more fool me. After dark you have to take down the screen lights from four devices in the cockpit as they become blindingly bright. The autopilot controller has a multifunction press button, acting to release the autopilot or dim the screen. So the obvious happens, and I've done it several times now - DOH! Buy the time I'd got the screen dimmed, I'd clicked off the autopilot, rotated the boat 100 degrees, gibed the boat, and backed both sails - DOH! The wind was a bit lively, and I was then largely hove to, so couldn't get it to gibe back - DOH! It's such a pain in the backside when that happens - you then have to complete the gibe, unback the sails, get sailing forward, and gibe back. To not have to do that (lots of rope hauling and anti crash gibe care), I was able to twist the boat around, by starting and using both engines, although the sails were so backed, x86 really resisted!

At 04:00 the wind shifted 90 degrees, and I was back out doing a gibe for real, but all standard stuff.

The only other thing of interest, was a note on the chart plotter of rip tides in a very specific place. There were zero sea bed features indicating a reason for this, so it looked like the note on the chart was just general for the area. Nope, I went straight over the top and for about a mile it was quite lively. I'd gone that way, because as the bay exits to the open ocean there were several notes of strong tidal rips, so although I did roll over one, it was in order to miss several others. This also positioned me well to miss a large TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme), at the head of the bay. These are ship magnets (they have to use these to traverse congested areas), and I saw a dozen big bruisers over the several hours it took to completely clear the zone.

Diet is a bit upside down. Had Cornflakes at Midnight (watching a super tanker pass 1/2 mile astern of me), and sausage and mash for breakfast!

All's well on x86, not tired, moving nicely, albeit with a donk.

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