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Monday, April 14, 2014

Day 8-9

Day 8-9

This is our progress the last few days:
Wed 4/9... 14* 01N 112* 05W
Th 4/10... 13* 24N 113* 29W
Fr 4/11... 11* 57N 114* 50W
Sa 4/12... 11* 11N 116* 58W
Su 4/13... 10* 48N 119* 23W

Fortunately, the trades are now with us. 18-22 knots from the NE. We have gone 1070 miles.

Are we having fun? Not exactly. This is not my idea of fun. But most pilgrimages aren't. Most rites of passage require some discomfort. This is simply a means to an end. Going through "it" to get to the other side - it is all part of the process. Last night was rough. The main had 2 reefs in her and Jim partially furled the jib. We were still raging on (or so it felt) at 6.5 knots. It reminded me of sledding as a kid... lying on my belly and holding on for dear life as the vehicle beneath me surged and lunged and skidded off the sides – flying faster as she rounded corners and maneuvered over lumps... but the snow doesn't race behind you. It stays sedentary. The frothy rush of flexing waves, on the other hand, makes it feel like a giant roller coaster – inside a washing machine. Luckily, everyone has their sea legs and no one else has gotten sick since Day 1 & 2.

We run the generator everyday – very cloudy in the mornings and late afternoons. Otherwise, solar panels are keeping up in the afternoon. A few squalls – no lightening or thunder – just rain and lots of wind. We are trolling a fishing line when the seas subside, but so far have caught nothing.

I discovered how much I enjoy listening to audiobooks on my night watches. Jim has for years, but I never had the desire. This trip I collected as many audiobooks as I could and kick myself now for not doing it sooner. I just finished INFIDEL by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (my dear friend Jennifer recommended it). What an inspiration! What an incredible story! Jim also listened to it (narrated by the author) and we both felt that Carolyne should add it to her homeschool program so we can have a family discussion about it.

Jim and I both feel tired – not exhausted – just tired. With this wind, though, we'll arrive in Hiva Oa sooner than later. And that's okay by me!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Day 8

Day 8

We area about 1/3 of the way there. Pretty good news considering the trade winds have forsaken us. Last few days have been 8-10 knots. Finally today - we are headed downwind with some good wind on our tail. It's nice for a change.

Some things that we have discovered that we wish we could change that we want to share:
1. We put new non-skid on the decks last year and thought we were so smart using sand. We regret that choice. It is too abrasive. Jim's and my soles are raw, it hurts to crawl or crab walk when conditions are a little gnarly – and we don't care for the look of it even after we painted over it. Only upside is that you could dump a load of motor oil on deck and it is guaranteed that you won't slip.
2. Reefing system for the main was just not to our liking. Jim re-rigged it underway and now we are much happier. Before, we would just lower the main altogether. Now we can put 2 reefs in the main easily and without turning upwind. This is great prep for when the squalls sneak up on you! We had very little experience with that... until now.
3. If your mainsail has slides that run inside a track, I recommend seizing a stainless or brass slide on the luff of the main on the first slide at the headboard where the halyard raises the sail. In just 5 days, my brand new Delrin (sp?) plastic slide broke. There is so much torque there. Since the webbing is still in excellent condition, I located the ONLY stainless slide we have on board. They are pricey, but the upside is that I don't have to re-seize it to the sail... I can slide the pin through the webbing that is already there and slip the metal ringlet through the hole to hold it. Easy peasy! I wish I had several more of those.
4. Auto pilot controller – we really wish we had a new controller because ours reacts too slowly and doesn't seem to be efficient. But the cost was a huge deterrent. Still – now we wish we had spent the money as our auto pilot is giving us a hard time. She's working, but she yaws too much. And she is a tremendous power pig... guzzling our charged batteries as quick as she can.
5. If we decide to get a new mainsail, we will buy (or make) one with 2 full battens at the top and 2 partial battens below. A full battened main is a booger to work with... even with Tony Morrelli's lazy bag system.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Day 6 and 7

Day 6 (Jim says Day 5)

Another cloudy day with winds all over the board as light and as variable as bunny farts. (Thank you Garth <sv Irish Diplomacy>, for the furry simile!) After battling the fickle flows all morning and afternoon, we opted to change course and head south where at least we won't be tacking and jibing all through the night every 15 minutes while the wind decides whether it wants to burp left, right or center. We decided not to fly the spinnaker at night and instead wing-and-wing it down on a S-SW course. Generator cranked right up today so we could flush the watermaker and charge our Androids and Kindles where we have oodles of reading material stored. I did manage to toss out a fishing line, but didn't catch even the dumbest one due to our speed being way too slow.

Day 7 (Jim says Day 6)

Spinnaker is up and the sun is shining!
Our night watches are in synch now. Carolyne takes the 8pm – 12:30pm, Jim does 12:30 – 3am (but he lays in the cockpit while Carolyne is doing her watch) and I take 3am until whenever Jim gets up... usually around 8 or 8:30am.

Jim tossed the fishing line in while I took a cool shower – with the light breezes and southwest route it is getting invariably warmer and sweatier. Just as I was drying off I heard Jim jump on the deck and head aft – which means he caught a fish! Except there was no fish – there was a darn Boobie bird's feathered fanny caught in the line. Carolyne reeled the fouled fowl in while Jim grabbed leather gloves and pliers. I held the bird's body and Jim held the beak while Carolyne cut the line which had wrapped around one wing tip, then around the body and under and over the opposite wing – and became caught up in little feather tufts here and there in between. The little devil did manage to bite my wrist before Jim could get a hold of his sharp beak – there was a hole in the edge of my glove and he found it. I poured rubbing alcohol over my cut (despite that rubbing alcohol burns!) because I don't want to have some disgusting infection in the middle of nowhere.

Note about emails:
We cannot check our regular email accounts because we have no internet aboard. I am able to blog post using our Sailmail or Winlink accounts through our Pactor Modem – but I am unable to read any comments if they have been posted. We also received weather grib files via the Pactor in addition our friend Evan in Australia sending us daily updates on weather routing. (Thank you, Evan!)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Day 4 & 5

Our passage has become much more enjoyable weather-wise. It is still a little rolly, but totally manageable. I was able to cook Sunday- finally. Homemade tomato basil soup for lunch and for supper we had curry pork and cabbage... pressure cooker, of course. Everyone appreciated a nice, hot meal.

Our binoculars decided to bite the dust – as if this is a good time. We absolutely could not see the halyard that was jammed at the top of the mast on Saturday– why and how and what was going on with it – and that happens to be the only halyard that runs to the top of the mast. With our binoculars not focusing, we decided to put the 250mm zoom lens on Jim's Cannon 70D - and take photos – and blow them up on the computer. Bingo! Saw the problem, fixed the problem – halyard is free now.

Monday mellowed out more as the rollers became less "knock you down hard every 3 seconds" and more "Nudge every 10 seconds or so". We needed to free the roller furling jib that freed itself in 20+ knot winds on Friday when we neglected to furl it tightly enough. Carolyne and I hoisted Jim up the forestay and we all three worked together – took several hours and we lost precious passage time while solving our problem. Once we freed her I had to cut off one complete panel of torn Sunbrella UV and sew sail tape up the leech to protect the leechtape and puckerstring that separated. The sail itself had no other damage – Hallelujah! We flew her the rest of the day and picked up another knot or two. Carolyne made us some fantastic homemade chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch.

It has been overcast and cloudy for days. Our 1000 watts of solar needed back-up. Jim went to start the generator and it coughed and sputtered... and died. And repeat. He took it apart and cleaned the carburetor (it's one of those California carbs that has a small piece that always gets clogged no matter how hard you try to maintain the unit... my skinniest needle won't penetrate the tiny tube.) Again Jim tried to start it and as if we needed this to happen - the pulley yanker broke! The cord had chafed inside. I laughed. Jim yelled up to the cloudy sky. We rummaged around and found a like-size cord and replaced it – still no luck. Again, Jim took the unit apart – replaced the fuel, cleaned the carburetor once more. I ran around and got tools and rags and cans and whatever else he needed. Finally - it roared to life, but he had to rig the choke open with string to keep it running. By 5pm we were both beat. Had we not been messing around with the generator we would have flown the spinnaker – light 4-5 knot winds most of the day. We would have fished, too. But why tempt fate with yet another problem when it took us all day to solve just two?

On a sad note, we learned through friends and family that our friends on Rebel Heart have had enough and may have had to abandon their boat. We hope that our friends are okay, especially Baby Lyra who we understand became very ill during the passage. Rebel Heart was their home and I am eager to learn if everyone is okay and what has become of their boat. Carolyne is very worried for them – she babysat for Cora numerous times in La Paz and for both girls right before the Kaufmans left La Cruz so that Eric and Charlotte could have an adult night out on the town. We have them in our thoughts and hope all is well.

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

this is a test

Testing out our remote email... seems to work! Leaving Mexico  in a few hours!! We will keep you posted!!

Bon Voyage!!

This is a quickie without pics... and there will be no more photos until we reach Hiva Oa in approximately 23 days. That right - we are off as of today, April 3rd. We have what appears to be a nice weather window and so we're going for it! We will miss Mexico, but we are off to new adventures! We will be posting (if we can get it to work!) as we go along.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Scurvy Free Boating

I'm still in a foul mood with the banks and I doubt I will ever change my mind until it stops costing us money to use the gluttonous-slave-driving-unscrupulous-harpies, who pass themselves off like the smiling cute, little pink, chunky cherub-faced piggy banks of our childhood... back when loaning your money to the bank in the form of a savings account earned you income...
Savers unite!!

But moving along to something productive and beneficial - and rewarding - and healthy - and something I have control over changing...
One of the 5-gallon containers we have on board
Jim, Carolyne and I combined our energy and made a large batch of Kimchi in one of our 5 gallon food grade containers. It takes a lot of washing, tons of grating and a boo-coo oodles of smashing down - but it is totally worth the effort when you taste the fermented crunchy veggie outcome. And fermented veggies are super healthy for your digestive system. We have made sauerkraut aboard in smaller batches and it has lasted un-refrigerated for several months. Fermented veg is a great boat food, especially for long passages or for cruising areas where vegetables cost too much money... and both apply in our case as we prepare to cross to the Marquesas from Puerto Vallarta!
A sink full of scrubbed veggies
Kimchi is high in vitamins and a rich source of probiotics - the lactobacilli and enzymes benefit digestion and help to promote healthy gut bacteria. Kimchi is nutrient rich - a superfood. There are a number of wonderful internet sites for Kimchi recipes, but we just threw together what we could find locally. And we didn't really measure out our ingredients - we just added what looked pretty together.

The important factor in successfully fermenting your Kimchi is to make sure that your crunchy veggies are submerged under the liquid. We did not use a brine or vinegar - we relied on the bacteria in the vegetables to do the fermenting all by themselves and mixed in sea salt to draw out the juices from the veg.

Hotspur's Kimchi includes:
Cabbage, red radish, carrot, white onion, bean sprouts, garlic, serrano chilis and black sesame seeds... and sea salt.. We don't add water... but some recipes do. We don't add sugar - some recipes do. We don't add meat or seafood - some recipes do.

How we made our Kimchi:

First, we washed our carrots, radishes and serrano chilis with fresh water and scrubbed with a veggie brush. We chopped off the ends and cut out any bad spots. We opted to slice our radishes thin and julienne our carrots thin. We used a mandoline slicer so that our veggies were cut virtually the same thin-ness. (I'll be honest with the mandolin slicer - it works great as long as you don't slice a limb off in the process, but I have only used it when making large batches of something... salsas and coleslaw to my memory. In fact, I so often just slice my veggies with a knife so I almost got rid of the slicer... until Carolyne made homemade potato chips. It's a keeper! And so is she!)
My little helper!
To prepare the cabbage, we removed the outer leaves or any leaves that were damaged. I sliced with a large knife - that seemed easier to me and seems less messy than shredding (which sends bits of cabbage flying everywhere). We used a salad spinner to wash the cut cabbage and remove the rinse water - works great!

We added a couple salad spinner bowls of cabbage, handful or two of radish, julienned carrot and onion, sliced garlic - and we began pushing the roughage down into the container with a large, heavy wooden pole. We'd toss in some bean sprouts, black sesame seeds and more cabbage and continue with the pressing (or smashing!). And repeat. And repeat some more. We opted for more garlic and less chili pepper because Carolyne requested that we not make it too spicy.

We put our air tight lid on the container and then stored it in the shower - where it is cooler and dark. Everyday we check our Kimchi to make sure the roughage is submersed in the juices. If it's not, we pack it down better. Sometimes, a plate with something heavy on top of it helps to keep the veg below the liquid.
It starts off dry. As you add a little salt and begin the pressing process it gets juicy.
After just one day we can already taste the fermentation process doing its job. In about a week the flavors should be intermingling and we'll be eating a side of delicious Kimchi with every meal. Scurvy free living.
Black sesame seeds are a nice addition