Sailing Through the Trade Winds

Passage Notes (continued)

This picture looks crooked, but actually the camera is level—it's the boat that's crooked. Jelly is leaning against the woodwork to keep from falling over. In the left foreground you can see some rope wrapped around the mast; this is Jelly's scratching post.  

The early morning was pretty bouncy, and when I went on deck to relieve Marcie at 8:00 a.m., things looked bleak. There was a heavy rough gray overcast and very lumpy seas. Marcie said she had lots of wind and rain on her watch. During one rainstorm, both windgens got loose from their tethers and started spinning (they had been shut down for repairs). Marcie had a tough time re-securing them, and when she stepped down off the deck box, she accidentally stepped on the remains of the hand of bananas (squish!). Also, late last night when David was moving around below, he was thrown off balance and fell, hitting his head on a door latch. He got a nasty gash, but Marcie patched him up and he seems to be doing fine this morning.

It's interesting to watch Jelly move around below. With the boat on a heel, when she walks fore and aft, she has to lean over to compensate for the heel. Unlike us people, she isn't able to grab on to things, so her entire coping mechanism is just to lean this way or that way. If conditions become too unsteady, she momentarily drops to the floor and crouches. If it stays too rough for her, she retires to one of two retreats and refuses to move. One retreat is in the cockpit under the dodger where there are several spare cushions stowed. The cushions leave a little nook of space underneath, just big enough for one cat; she crawls into the nook and wedges herself in. The other retreat is on the settee in the saloon where she can rest against the settee backrest, which keeps her from rolling around (but only on a port tack).

You can tell how good Jelly is feeling by how she handles chow time. Normally, she's a ravenous chow-hound and practically inhales her food as soon as it's put down (food which I snidely refer to as "macerated sardine guts"). But if she's not feeling well, she actually refuses to eat, which is completely out of character.

We broke out of the gray overcast just after 9:00 a.m., and in the early afternoon the wind abated. With light winds, we decided to drop the jib and repair the ripped seam where the UV-protection fabric was coming loose. To avoid problems handling the big sail, we planned our moves carefully and coordinated our efforts. We motored mostly into the wind, but a little off to one side, so the sail would drop on the side deck. With a little coaxing, the big jib came down surprisingly easily, right where we wanted it to.

After surveying the damage, Marcie and David decided to use Marcie's sewing machine to effect the repair; she already had it loaded with special UV-resistant thread for canvaswork. Although it took a little time to set up the sewing station on the coachroof, and the ordinary Singer sewing machine needed a little coaxing to handle the heavy fabric, repairs were completed, sewing equipment was stowed, and we prepared to raise the jib. Of course, by now, the wind had picked up again, so raising it wasn't as easy as lowering it. The real problem was that the sail got stuck in the track in the furler extrusion but we didn't figure that out right away. As I was cranking away on the halliard winch against a stuck sail, David saw the bottom of the furler extrusion pull out of the furler drum (which is not supposed to happen!). I released tension on the halliard and David managed to pull the sail down again, with some effort since it was stuck. We tried raising it a second time and this time it went up fine. Now we had to wind up the sail on the furler, but David first had to get the extrusion back in the drum, which of course, took more effort (it seems there are very few boat repair jobs that are genuinely easy). David found that the extrusion came out because a setscrew had slipped. After finishing repairs, it was nice to have the jib in-service again, because it greatly improved our boat speed in the lighter winds. After this rather extended and strenuous exercise, everyone was a little winded from the effort but we were glad it had been completed without any injuries and without anything else breaking.

The rest of the day was quite straightforward—just routine passagemaking. I was pleased to notice that David's very quick and quite funny sense of humor seems to have returned in spades today. I had noticed that for the past few days it was noticeably absent, but today he got in quite a few of his trademark zingers, and I really enjoyed them.

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