Day 25 towards Cape Horn - several urgent jobs - and a flurry of flying fish

I noticed a ship heading our way- CPA under1.5 ml in 45 mins... that's too close in my book!

Thursday 15th November 2012

Job of the day was meant to be a complete re-set of the autopilot course computer in an effort to resolve the rudder bar display problem but in the meantime, it's working fine - at least in present easy conditions.  

However, other more urgent jobs cropped up, to get in the way,,,,,  

Went to run the generator in the morning, with the battery volts down after light wind overnight reduced input from the wind generator. The oil pressure light came on and it wouldn't start.... I knew straight away what the problem was - I hadn't checked the oil level recently and, sure enough, it was way down... I drained out what little there was and filled with fresh oil - it was very happy to start up immediately I tried it.. One success today!  

In order to re-set the course computer for the instruments, I had to put the autopilot into 'standby' - so logically, it was a good time to try out the wind steering again - but I'd left the cover off and the pins in to stop it moving, so needed to perch out on the 'sugar scoop' again over the stern. It was also time to trim the sails, with our course needing to be much closer to the veered wind.. Bringing the traveller to windward and trimming nicely put our speed up a good knot!!  

Centering the mains'l gave me a chance to look at a suspect pin on the shackle holding the mainsheet block to the boom end - It had caught my eye yesterday as seeming to be rather too proud of the shackle ... on closer inspection now, it was nearly out!! So, before working on the windsteering system, I decided the least I should do was to tie off the boom with another rope so it would be safe. I used the same pole guy line as when raising the anchor in SF Bay ...... around the boom end, through the blocks of the traveller, out to a turning block on the toe rail and thence to a winch. With the load off the block and shackle, I was later able to release the pin, re-tighten it, wire it safely and then allow it to take up the load. ......A nightmare scenario averted in the nick of time!!  

I set the wind steering working again - without dropping anything into the sea, working safely again using the sturdy struts off the stern to stand between or sit on. Sailing close-hauled means that the boat pretty well steers herself, so the gear isn't really being tested very well, but all seems fine, for the moment.  

As the sun was getting low in the sky, I finally got to the re-setting of the course computer.... I carefully went through the procedure, noting all previous settings, ready to re-enter them.. To be sure I'd got it right, I did it all twice... Nada! The rudder bar is still missing in Standby....grrr!!!! I'm now awaiting my next instructions... To be fair, things have to be tested in a sequence, in order to eliminate possibilities..... but....  

I was famished ... nothing since breakfast ... Time for a quickly-prepared meal -a tin of tuna, half one of chick peas, mayonnaise.. works well, with no cooking or heating required ...with cheese and an apple and mandarin to follow... wonderful!!!  

..... until I noticed a ship heading our way- CPA under1.5 ml in 45 mins... that's too close in my book!! As I finished eating, I got out the handheld VHF (the ship's radio doesn't often seem to work too well) and called .. and called... and called... I even switched on the deck light, which lit up the sails beautifully... Still no reply - but I could see them now in the distance! Finally, they replied, agreed to alter course to starboard and pass our stern.... I never found out what their cargo was, on its way to China from Panama, but had a long chat with the friendly Russian officer who several times asked if I had problem, after telling him I was a sailing yacht with no motor, headed for Cape Horn!!  

Sky has been rather cloudy, but there's been some very hot sun when it got out... definitely getting into sticky climes - we're in the Tropics and the sea is now 32C!! We passed through a shoal of tiny flying fish (first seen so far) - they scattered every which way! Wind has veered into the east - we're probably going to be headed by light SSE winds nearer the Equator - but that might change. For now, I'm trying to make what Easting I can, partly to avoid convection regions in the ITCZ further W and partly to be ready for the SE Trades which might make it difficult to head due south.  

24hr DMG: 147 n.ml.;Golden Gate Bridge 1202n.ml & Strait of Juan de Fuca 1847n.ml away at 3pm & our position was then 732 n ml WSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Read the previous post.
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