Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Galapagos to Easter Island Day 9

Pacifc Ocean
20 19.0S, 106 36.8W at 0850
1463 nm SW of Galapagos
(tardy) 0700 report

Dawn on the Pacific Ocean brings a shifting and easing wind, as windspeed began to drop almost hourly after midnight. The waning moon is just past full and illuminated the sky with a 50% cloudcover last night. There were tall banks of clouds with white puffy tops, but many had a more ominous slate gray bottom which often brought a localized area of higher winds, sometimes accompanied by rain. I found myself dodging those as able on my watch that ended at midnight.

This morning, the wind is not quite stable, and varies from 8 to 16 knots, swinging through NE to east. This is diffficult sailing, particularly in the dark. It requires much attention, and it seems that every time you finally set the sails just right, the wind changes. How ironic is it that now, with flukey and lighter winds, I am steering towards those same dark clouds, as they carry more wind!

We had an autopilot problem yesterday. Our name for the 4th crew member is "Otto" and typically Otto might lose steering function several times a day, particularly when driven hard. We just hand steer for a few minutes, and Otto takes over again. Well, yesterday afternoon it did not work that way, and further inspection noted hydraulic fluid in the lazerette - we lost fluid from some type of leak. Hopefully it is a loose fitting but perhaps it may be a hose failure, or a broken part. We shall see when it calms for a while. Fortunately, Visions of Johanna was designed with 2 independent autopilot systems, and there was a seamless change over as we swapped drive connections. Sweet! If we have problems with this unit, there is one more backup steering unit available, and that unit goes by the name "Gram".

Excellent dinner last night included a chicken-lentil bean stew (from South Beach Diet cookbook) and warm cornbread with fresh pineapple for desert. That Jack Bauer guy was in trouble again, too.

Only one tiny flying fish was obv ious on deck today. As I picked it up, I realized that it made quite an image lying there. Maybe I will do a photographic study of these stranded winged creatures.

Saw my first bird this morning - a very good sign! At 8:45 AM there is only 440 nm to go, and crew eagerly awaits landfall. Sorry for the delayed report but sails required all my attention this AM.

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