Lazy Days - 17:49.5N 53:56.5W

Sat 19 Feb 2011 19:54
The wind has dropped off another 3 or 4 knots today and I am doing my lowest speeds since the start of the trip.  Last night was not too bad and i eagerly await tonight as the wind usually picks up a bit. 
At 1000 UTC I woke to piercing shafts of light coming though the louver vents in the washboards.  I slid the hatch back to a psychedelic peach
and crimson sunrise.  The day has been sweltering hot and standing out under that midday sun is not advisable.  I already scalded my butt on the TekDeck(composite teak effect decking) seats.  This is one feature they donât advertise, still, better than splinters I suppose.
Earlier at 0200 there was a bang which sounded like one of the spinnaker poles snagging.  I went on deck to check what it was but could see nothing immediately wrong with the poles.  When I was back inside it occurred to me what had happened.  I reached beneath one of the bunks and pulled out a reel of 3mm line that I used for lashings and other small jobs arou
nd the boat.  I cut a meter length and using a lighter melted the ends to prevent them from fraying.  Going on deck I discovered the culprit for the noise.  As suspected one of the sheeting blocks on the toerail had broken its lashing.  With the light winds it was easy to rectify without âdumpingâ sheets. 
Using lashings instead of shackles is now a preference for me.  When done correctly it is a surer connection, but this means having the correct type of block, padeye and spectra line.  I have none of these, and that is why it broke, but once the lighter winds started, the rattling of the shackles was unbearable.  I lashed both port and starboard blocks on knowing that if the lashing did break it would be unlikely to cause any major damage.  As well as being more easily inspected for deterioration another positive point about using lashings is that it allows the block to align with the sheet more easily.  The low-quality sheet that I mentioned before, the one that only lasted one night, after being swapped end for end it has being doing the same job since with no problems.  The only change is the bit of extra freedom that the lashing permits.
For keeping watch for other vessels your eyes and instruments are the best, but keeping acquainted with the condition of the boat requires you to listen to every creak and groan.  It is important to reduce the noise of foodstuff and equipment rolling about in presses to a minimum, and not for sanity alone.  In the last three weeks I have listened to the vane steering pulleys grinding salt in their bearings, which a few cups of hot water corrected instantly.  The steering pedestal also started squeaking, and so an inspection of all the steering gear was necessary.  The steering cables have slackened a bit but this is not the issue. It is just a bushing moaning for the âwantâ of a bit of grease.  The gimbals of the cooker have now begun chirping like a canary and an emergency grap bag left inside the companionway caused two nights of unrest as the floor beneath it groaned. 
The effect of something going wrong with the rigging or a flogging sail is amplified below deck and what sometimes cannot be heard on deck would easily wake you from sleep.
I suppose it is what's called becoming in tune with the boat.