Today was a very productive day. Around 4:00 yesterday morning the wind had died down to just 3-4 knots and I couldn't take the slatting of the sails any longer, so I started up the iron genny and made hay towards Easter. The wind remained light through the day, so we motored, first at about 6.5 kts burning just 1.5 gal/hr. Around 11:00 Bill wanted to see what it would take to get in by Friday evening. We would need to average 8.67 kts which with just 3 kts of wind on the beam meant 1600 RPM and 3.0 gal/hr. We did this for a while, but when the wind increased to 6kts on the bow we had to up the rpm and were burning 3.5 gal/hr and still not quite making our speed. Still, we were doing pretty well, the seas were calm, and we took the oportunity to get some chores done. The biggest one was getting an anchor out of the focs'l and onto the bow so we could anchor when we got there. This entailed taking the following out from on top of the anchor: two awnings, one outboard propeller, one fortress anchor, five 1" docklines, one electrical reel, one garden hose, one scuba tank, two bikes, one set foreguy/afterguy, and then we had to lift the outboard 2" to clear the anchor. Then we could lift the anchor on a halyard and put it on the bow. When we had done this in the Bahamas on our way to Cartagena we were in some serious seas and I severely strained my back. Luckily this time it was much calmer and all went well. We then had top put all that stuff back in the focs'l. Next we decided to put the chafe patches on the main where it hits our SatCom domes when sailing downwind. This has been on our lists for months, but isn't that easy to do on anchor as you have to hoist the mainsail. We did a very neat job with 7 rows of 3" sail repair tape on each side. The tape needs a few weeks to get dirty so it doesn't stand out quite so much (kind of like new sneakers). While doing that we refined our reef location marking system using blue draft-stripe tape (narrow sticky back sailcloth) so Bill can see it better from the halyard winch. Out "system" entails a stripe on the back of the mast that aligns with short stripes at the luff of the main set to the right height so the batten sits right at 6:00 on the boom mandrel. If you aren't familiar with boom furling this probably makes zero sense, but the idea is that the sail rolls around a mandrel and you can reef at any batten by placing he batten at the bottom of the roll. Our markers allow us to set this at the right point without having to go forward to look. It came out very neat.
Around 4:00 the wind was blowing 12 kts from the west and we decided to shut off the motor and just get in mid afternoon on Saturday instead of pushing really hard and just barely making it in before it got too dark on Friday. The wind then got really squirly, and our track on the computer looks like that of a Newport Salve (local college) girl on a Friday night around 2am. Eventually we settled down with the Jib and Main going 4 to 6 kts close hauled in anywhere from 10 to 14 kts of wind from the southeast. We aren't quite making our mark off easter (pointed further west), but are still making 3-4 kts VMC (Velocity Made on Course) so it is worthwhile and we excpect the wind direction to change a few more times before we get in.
We are down to our last few nights at sea. The stars have been amazing as we have had pretty clear nights lately. Usually some squalls around dinner time that make things intersting, but then the clouds clear out and you are left with a million stars before the moon rises a few hours later. My favorite is the Southern Cross as it is new and fresh (being from the northern hemisphere and all). Plus it is easy to find and quite bright. It starts the evening sideways, but by early morning is in its proper cross type orientation. Well, we are slowed down a bit, so I need to go check on sails. As Herb Hilgenburg (East Coast weather forecaster) used to say..."Have a Good Watch."