Nov 8 – 36 Hours Out?

We’ve had a busy day. Yesterday we were zipping along under our ‘Full Monty’ sailplan (full genny, full main, full mizzen) enjoying broad reaching speeds in the 8’s and 9’s with gusts and surfing opportunities seeing us hit 10’s and 11’s regularly. Then the winds and seas began to build with the winds hitting 25 and the seas in the 12-15 foot range.

We began shortening sail late in the afternoon – one reef in the main, then two, then dropping the mizzen, then one reef in the genoa, then another. Finally, about an hour later, we had the ideal sailplan – cruising along at 8 – and finally the autopilot was able to take control.

We stayed that way through the night – and the boat sailed well. Unfortunately, the motion below was not kind to those who wished to sleep… or eat, or read, or well… do anything other than lie in one’s bunk and stare at the ceiling.

Then, around 2330, Dwight woke me to tell me that my spinnaker had started to fall into the water. I had left it in its bag on deck and secured the bag, but there was a small opening in each end of the bag between the zipper and the bag itself. Well, I guess a wave went through there and grabbed a corner of the sail and pulled it out. Next thing you know, there’s 1300 square feet of sail trailing behind the boat, not tied to anything, in 30 knot winds, and pitch black darkness. I got my shorts and harness on and went on deck to see what I could do. After what seemed a very long time (say 30 minutes?) I was able to pull it back on deck, get it back to the cockpit, and then re-stow it in it’s bag. Not a fun exercise, but we’re glad we didn’t lose the sail.

Today, the winds and waves continue, about 24 knots out the NE and waves in the 10-12 foot range. While it’s uncomfortable moving around below, spirits remain strong and the kids are enjoying planning what they’re going to do when we get to Tortola.

Also this morning, we had a repeat of the ‘water in the engine’ scenario. So, Dwight and I pulled the injectors for the 4th time on this trip and were able to get the engine running again (We don’t need it for propulsion, but we do need it to keep our batteries charged)

At the same time, it looked like we had run out of freshwater. As it turns out, the pump had simply lost its prime and we still have plenty of water. (And even if we had run out, we carry enough emergency water to have gotten us to Tortola well hydrated)

For now, it seems that all the potential disasters have been averted (touching wood everywhere), we are 256 miles from Tortola with good winds. While the ride right now is a bit uncomfortable due to the sea condition, we know that we’ll likely be safely moored by sometime after midnight on Monday (certainly before noon Tuesday) and we’re buoyed by the prospect of completing the passage.

Cheers All,
Colin

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