15/01/2014 – Halfway there.

Where is halfway? Is it the midpoint of a straight line drawn between the start and finish lines or half the combined distance of start to waypoint to finish or even half the total distance we will sail? The latter is impossible to calculate because we do not sail in a straight line because the wind will often not allow it. We took the second option, ignoring the fact that we had spent one night going in not quite the right direction after the wind shifted, and reached the point of 589 miles to go at 1503. We were thrilled, 3 days, 3 hours, 3 minutes! Can we continue at this speed? A lot depends on the wind but it is important that we arrive in daylight so, when we are a lot closer, we might have to seriously slow down to avoid a night hove-to. We’ll see. Halfway means a celebration dinner, steak, potatoes, carrots and mushrooms in a creamy garlic sauce. It was delicious even if we did have to tenderise the meat first! (Serves me right for buying reasonably priced versus extortionate.) In yesterday’s log I forgot to mention that we successfully made water, filled the tanks to overflowing and had to turn off the watermaker. Previously the machine has turned itself off after about an hour but we discovered, by accident, that the lift pump won’t share. If we turn the generator power to boat then the battery charger and water heater both come on so the lift pump says ‘no thanks’. As we have to charge the batteries every day we’ll turn off the water heater when we want to make water and see if this solves the problem. We had a fantastic noon run: 187 miles. O.K. that does include some helpful current but we are sailing fast! In fact we were going so fast we decided to see if we could reduce sail by rolling some away. Success. We now have the twin sails reduced to nearly one reef with very little reduction in speed but a smoother motion. Now for the not so good bits. For the second night running we had a problem with the sails. This time it was John’s turn to be woken up when the sheet controlling one of the sails chafed through at the end of the pole. We sorted the problem in 30 minutes though it needed us both on deck. John had just finished resetting the sail when the knot holding the big snatch block out at the end of the pole came undone! So, for the second time, we let the sail fly, lowered the pole, fixed the problem, pulled the pole back up and reset the sail. At least we had worked out a system. Mid morning I spotted that the line holding the end of the other pole up had unhooked itself and was wrapped around its partner on the other side of the boat. John tried fishing for it, literally, managed to snag it with the line from my rod which promptly snapped. (line not rod) Then he tried the gaff but couldn’t snag anything adequately so onto plan B. Our overnight practice with the pole led to a rapid retrieval of the errant line by dropping the pole and untangling the loose end. Once that sail was reset we repeated the operation with the other sail and pole. Job completed safely with little reduction in speed because we always had one sail flying nicely. Let us hope that there are no problems tonight! Stop Press: We should reach our waypoint at about 0400 so we’ll reset the sails to allow us to alter course towards the San Blas islands in the morning. Joyce.

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