Tuesday, July 1, 2008

8:00am PDT 39 49.4N, 141 07.5W 870.4 Nautical miles to Neah Bay

From Captain Brad:
There is a song that Bryce and Austin like to listen to on the Lego Bionicle website called "Gravity Hurts". Ain't that the truth! Living life on an angle definitely makes you respect gravity. moving around becomes 10 times as hard and if you slip gravity will quickly take you to the lowest point, which sometimes hurts.
Enough of that. The last 24 hours have been more of the same wind hovering around 30 knots, blasting along under reduced canvas. One very sad thing is I have missed playing my episodes of 24, I think for the last two days. I guess the thought of watching a screen in a pitching boat hasn't appealed to me. I think I going to give it a go today, though. The weather should start to moderate. The seas are smaller this morning even though the wind seems to be holding steady. Over the next 24 hours I expect we will start to shake the reefs out of the main and unroll the jib a bit. One really good thing about these conditions is we are making good time towards home.
Let's see? What has happened over the last 24 hours? The autopilot cut out again. I traced the problem to the wiring in the pod at the helm again. One of the connectors had filled with water. After cleaning this out, the autopilot started right back up and has been working flawlessly ever since. Brian decided to play around with the instruments to see if he could get the wind functions back, which he did. So, now we could confirm what we already knew. It was blowing hard! We have been spending the majority of our time below. When doing the night watch schedule, I like to get on deck for an extended time, get some fresh air and commune with the ocean. I just came back down from doing that. There is quite a marine layer and I bet visibility is less than a mile right now. No worries though, because we have the AIS and radar running. While on watch, we check these often to see if there is any traffic nearby. The AIS will register a commercial vessel long before the radar or naked eye will see it.
As I look out the window, I caught a glimpse of an albatross soaring along, swooping down between the waves not flapping its wings at all and yet still somehow managing to go upwind. This far out the only birds you see are albatross and some sort of smaller bird, that also swoops low between the waves and back up again. We haven't seen any yet but occasionally you will see a tern with a long V tail. In past crossings, we have had terns land on the mast head and take a rest.
As inconvenient as this weather is, we do have it pretty darn good. The boat is sea kindly, we are dry, warm and protected from the elements. I'm learning a lot about the boat as well and what will need to be done to make life even better. There is definitely places where water is making it below and that will have to be addressed. The storage spaces on the port side Salon need to have hinged cabinet doors with a locking clasp and we need a better system to get the cushions to stay in place stuff like that.
I've rambled on a bit but now it's time to go. I'll be sending less pictures because we are starting to run low on the prepaid minutes on the sat telephone. And pictures take a lot of minutes to send.

From Kurt Hoehne:
Brian said it best when he got up this morning, was thrown against a couple of hard objects and stumbled into the pilothouse: "What kind of cruise IS this?"
The days of sitting in lawn chairs, drinking Coronas and occasionally reeling in a pretty fish are officially behind us. While far from being in any kind of survival mode we're definitely in 'we hope this eases up soon' mode. Everybody seems to be handling the challenges. No doubt the challenges have already been explained by others, an autopilot failure, and a subsequent steering chain break. And a genset switch. This on the heels of a day spent fixing the engine and genset fuel issues. While everybody pitches in, Brian and Brad have been particuliarly heroic, doing fine-motor skills while deep in Capaz' recesses.
For those of you who've been at sea, you know the score onboard in 30 knots of breeze close reaching (except for the pilothouse aspect, which I'll explain in a minute.) For those of you who haven't had the pleasure.....
We're sailing along with the boat heeled to the side from anywhere from five degrees to about 25 degrees. This is constantly changing, sometimes from one extreme to the other in about 4 seconds. While this is going on the boat is rocking from front to back as it goes over waves. About once every 3-5 minutes the boat pounds on a wave. And it pounds, with a big boom. All this while, there are waves from 5-15 feet in height. For the most part, Capaz simply rises on top as the waves roll through, but not always. About once a minute a wave (might be the "pounder," might not) scoots up the side and lands on top of Capaz.
For the crew the challenge is moving. The wide open pilothouse is great in many respects. It's warm and dry, but requires planning and decisive moves to get across without getting thrown against something. Cooking amounts to heating water and pouring it into something, and this is not to be taken lightly, and in fact is done rarely in these conditions. The other thing, and in this respect Capaz is no different from any other boat, water will find a way in. Suffice it to say we now know which hatches and ports leak, and there are a few. And I'll just leave it to everybody's imagine about the whole toilet thing.
Sailors who are reading this but who have never done a pilothouse, it's an entirely different experience. With the autopilot, Jorge, on, we sit "below" but with great visibility, our foul weather gear still on hangers. Screens showing AIS to warn us of freighters and radar to give us a heads-up for big weather or maybe another non commercial boat are what we watch "on watch." But you know, we all went up for a while not long ago and it was kinda nice to be in the fresh air. Then you get down below and see some humongus wave pound the pilothouse windows and you're glad not to be out there.
So, that's it from the Pacific. We're well and not suffering too much. The miles we're logging now are all pretty much directly for home. And there are some people there that I desperately would like to see.
Thanks for tuning in!

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