Saturday, November 09, 2013

Sailing from Fiji to Kiribati. Day 3 morning report.

IDENT: kf7tdy & w2df2150 (LightSpeed)
TIME: 2013/11/09 21:18
LATITUDE: 08-42.67S
LONGITUDE: 176-35.52E
SPEED: 5.2

Our trip thus far has been plagued by very light winds and it looks like we'll have more of the same for the next few days as we inch toward latitude 5 south where there's more promise of steady easterly flow. Overnight it was 2-4 knots from variable directions with a handful of squalls packing 25+ knots. From 8PM to 7AM we ran the port Yanmar 3YM30 diesel engine at 2000RPM pushing us at 5.2 knots slowly to the north. Typically, we run the engine(s) at 2500-2750RPM burning approximately ~2.5 L/hr or ~0.6 gal/hr (per engine). Running at slower speeds can cause carbon build up in the exhaust elbow, but with precious little fuel aboard and spare exhaust elbows onboard, I throttled back in an effort to maximize our range under power.

This morning around 7AM extra ugly low black clouds brought 20 knots from the NNE and we sailed fast with a double reef main and partially furled jib to the NNW. As I write at 9:30AM we have 100% cloud cover and the wind has diminished to 10-12 knots NNE. No complaints as we're still making decent VMG toward Tarawa, Kirbati which lies just north of equator some 650nm distant.

Day 1 we sailed 126nm making 109 good.
Day 2 we sailed 123nm making 120 good. 7 knots average wind speed mostly NE as taken from our hourly log entries.

Yesterday the Simrad autopilot stopped working. Murphy must have been on vacation as the breakage occurred mid-day with mild conditions and Kathy easily hand steered while I investigated and quickly fixed the problem. I worked from the Autopilot computer toward the hydraulic drive motor located in the port engine room. I determined that the motor brushes had simply worn down and I swapped in new ones from my spare hydraulic drive motor, a much simpler task than swapping the entire motor and pump. We were back online in about 30 minutes and we should get at least another 10,000 nm of use until the brushes wear out again. Just in case I'll order a spare set when we get to Majuro, Marshall Islands.

Thinking about our voyage to Alaska next May/June we'll need to purchase some special gear for the more extreme conditions. Shipping to the Marshall Islands is USPS and the rates are very reasonable, unlike everywhere else in the South Pacific (except American Samoa).

On the list:
Winter clothes- Hopefully we can get some hand me downs from our friends (YOU) for the chill of Alaska. We're not total bums and plan to get new gear when we get jobs in San Francisco, but until then we need some used gear for beach fires, fish guts and to fit in with the rough and tumble Alaska fishermen crowd. Luckily I still have my Xtra-Tuff boots from our last trip to Alaska.

We need: Mens XL and Womens S jackets, hoodies, fleece, foulies, gloves and hats or whatever you have filling up your closet that could keep us warm. We'll gladly pay the shipping.

Immersion suits- Big orange survival suits for worst case scenario situations in the frigid arctic waters.
Jordan series drogue- A drag device to limit boat speed should we encounter a nasty low and heavy conditions in the high latitudes.
Replacing the battery in our ACR EPIRB.
Replacing exhaust lines on our Espar forced air diesel heaters.
Hot water heater- Replacing our old hot water tank and installing a new header tank.
Head Sail- Spare small head sail for heavy conditions.
Furler- Inspect top swivel and or replace with high load version.
Duct Engine room venting so possible infiltrating water in heavy conditions will be routed to bilge and not splash engine.
Damage control kit- Expand existing repair kit should we have a collision with debris that requires patching the hull or break out a hatch or window.
Motor mounts- Yanmar 3YM30 with SD20 drive.

Other excitement for the day was a big squall that had us catch 15 gallons of water using our new cockpit awning. We could have tanked twice as much if we had a bigger hose as the rain was coming down much faster than our 1/2 hose could handle. Standing in the driving rain we experienced a novel sensation of feeling cool, a nice reprieve from the tropical heat.

Enjoying a sundowner in the calm evening conditions a school of huge tuna lept pass the boat. At first we thought they were dolphins for their enormous size and I reeled in my fishing line thinking they would frolic around the boat. As the school neared it became clear they were giant tuna and the fishing line quickly went back in the water, but no takers.

Wind is now under 10 and NE (45T) with slightly lumpy seas that have the main slatting.

That's it for now.

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