Still Afloat - 19:15.5N 43:10.5W

Mon 14 Feb 2011 21:10
Yesterday started out a beautiful day but quickly became overcast.  Swells of 4 to 5 meters then set in as per Meteofranceâs prediction but did not cause any worry as it was a long flowing sea with a pitch of 40 to 50 meters. 
Meteofranceâs weather forecast has become invaluable and is remarkably accurate.  Although I can generally only grasp about 80% to 90% of what is said depending on whether its the male or female presenter.  Before I set out I got a list of their times, frequencies and a table of vocabulary used.  Along with a map of the Atlantic sea areas I used powerpoint to collate all the information on two slides.  I then got these printed and laminated in Las Palmas.  With this and a whiteboard marker I sit patiently every morning at 1133 and tune in for the SW weather forcast.  The weather for the area that you are in is quite easy to understand and gives wind strength and direction, visibility, weather, sea state and direction.  Also given are the gale warnings, again very easy to understand, Intertropical Convergence Zones (ITCZâs) location and the general meteorological situation.  Understanding and logging the co-ordinates of the latter two is where I fall down.
Today has possibly been one of the nicest days sailing I have had since the start of the trip.  Although the day started out overcast it soon cleared and blowing a consistent 15 kts I have hardly had to touch the sails all day.  I spent the day cleaning both man and boat and dinner consisted of a stew left over from last night.  Neither myself or the boat got any cards or chocolates for Valentines but will be happy instead with a night under the stars.
The boat is still holding up well.  The engine is still a bit slow to start but I am not keen to go at this. I know what the problem is, but taking the fuel filters down, re-sealing and putting it all back together while simple, is a messy job.  It would  mean at least a couple of diesel laden nappies which would in turn have to be dumped over the side.  Keeping them bagged on-board is too much of a fire hazard.    Listening to the engine turn over a couple of extra times isnât too daunting.  The solar panels' regulator gave up after getting wet.  Instead I have connected them directly to the battery bank.  I had discussed doing this anyway with a colleague electrical engineer and he was of the opinion that the regulator is only useful if you need to protect the batteries from large solar panels.  Not like my two 20W panels putting out 1 to 2 amps at peak sunshine.  The battery regulator blew a couple of fuses and died as did the lighter socket.  These were 1 amp and 6 Amp fuses and I think the problem was a corroded contact and possibly an intermittent connection.  Anyhow It hasnât happened since and I had, and still have plenty of spares.  The masthead light blew a fuse and I actually thought the unit itself might have died as I have returned one already.  On closer scrutiny I had no power at the base of the mast which lead me to replace the fuse.  I suspect that a wire might be shorting in the mast, one for the to-do list.   Rigging wise, so far so good.  The furler jammed but this was easily fixed with a couple of adjustments. The clearance between the assembly bolts and rope guide is very small and the guide had moved and snagged.   The biggest surprise is the difference between good rope and cheap rope.  Before leaving I bought some cheap bits of rope for lazy sheets etc.  One of these was destroyed in less that a day.  I was shocked, but delighted that I have Marlow Spectra lines in the mast, while they are hard to handle they have not shown any signs of wear yet.  Of my least favourite jobs to have to try tackle alone would be re-moussing a halyard at sea.
Happy Valentines to the most patient girlfriend in the world, and I donât think anybody would dispute this.