The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Sat 2 May 2015 20:28



33:22S  174:08E


So far we've done 115 miles with 845 miles to go – not too bad for the first 21 hours. We've got blue skies and 20-25 knot winds, so we're romping along at 6-6.5 knots.  Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


2 May 2015   New Zealand to Vanuatu (Day 1)

We were up early doing the last minute jobs.  We cleared out just after nine o'clock; had the duty free booze delivered; paid the marina bill; filled up with water; made some lee cloths to hold supplies under the saloon table; stored all the booze away and checked the engine.  By the time we motored out of the marina at eleven o'clock, we were exhausted.


There's a rally of 30 boats sailing to Tonga and they've picked today to leave, so there was a constant stream of yachts motoring out of the marina and out to sea.  Many yachts now have AIS transponders, so we could see the rally boats on our chart plotter all heading north-east, while we seem to be the only yacht going north to Vanuatu.


The weather was beautiful with blue skies and sunshine, but as forecast, there was no wind, so we were forced to motor in the mirror-smooth water.  The afternoon went quickly (especially for me because I went to bed for three hours) and we had a fabulous sunset, reflected on the calm seas.


By eight o'clock, we had an 8 knot ENE wind, which was a teaser - not quite enough to sail.  I pulled out the sails, but we just slowed down to less than 4 knots.  An hour later, the wind picked up enough to sail.  It was lovely and peaceful for a few minutes, then I heard a strange knocking. 


I discovered that the carbon bearing for our PSS stern gland was knocking against the propeller shaft.  This was very annoying because I'd gone to the trouble of refitting it and aligning the engine to get rid of this problem.  There was nothing that I could do apart from tying a piece of 3mm cord to pull it to port, which has at least stopped the irritating knocking sound.


Unfortunately, the knocking started again while I was in bed during Glenys's 10-1 watch, so by the time I got up at one o'clock, I'd come up with a plan.  The PSS gland has a rubber bellow that pushes the carbon bearing against a stainless steel ring, so I reckoned that I needed to increase the pressure by sliding the ring aft and compress the bellows. 


We hove-to and I spent 30 minutes lying head-down across the engine to sort it out.  It all went well, but it was a bit scary because I had to make sure there was always pressure on the seal otherwise the sea would come rushing in.  By the end of the job, I was feeling a little nauseous, so I'm glad that the waves had only built to 2-3 feet.


The rest of the night was lovely, sailing along at 5-6 knots on a close reach under a full moon.  It was pretty, but also damn cold.  By three o'clock, I was wearing four layers including a down gilet, thermal trousers and a wooly hat.  I'm looking forward to getting to the tropics.