We are settling into our “at sea” routines and watches. Sheridan, the Admiral, takes the 8-12 watches because they provide a more or less normal sleep cycle, Peter does 4-8 (he likes seeing the sunrise and sunset) and the Captain takes 12-8. The latter is not special in any way. Our brains are just about accustomed to the peculiarities of sleeping, waking and being watchful at these times. For the moment, ship time = PDT, at least for the moment. We will likely change it to reflect sunrise and sunset at about 6:30 AM and PM.
We are now more than 500 miles from land and made our first “turn” using our plotted course early this morning. Weather routing advice is being provided by Bob McDavitt in New Zealand and he plotted out a course that would maximize comfort without too great a reduction in speed. We were a bit slow during the first two days so have fallen behind his estimates for where we should be and he has therefore just provided a new spot for our second turn before we start to head directly south. At the moment we are heading south west in order to approach the equator and the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ=doldrums). The doldrums are not dull – they are full of squalls, lightening and big patches of no wind. Finding the shortest distance across will be Bob’s job and we will follow his advice.
Of the various problems that we have encountered with the boat (these are always expected) all have been relatively easy to solve except for the watermaker issue. We can carry 100 gallons of water and that could be enough to last a month if we are really, really careful. To make life easier we installed a watermaker and it has worked perfectly in the Sea of Cortez for the past two years. However, the ocean swell (1-3m) in addition to wind generated waves, revealed that the thru hull that provides seawater to the watermaker is too high on the side of the hull. When the boat rolls while on a starboard tack, the thru hull is briefly out of the water and air gets into the line. This causes the watermaker to stop making water. We tried one simple plumbing fix today but it didn’t work. The more complicated fix might work but we would need to build a Rube Goldberg patched-together plumbing setup using an alternative thru hull that is closer to the centre of the hull but rather distant from the watermaker input line. It also would mean running a waterline above the salon floor which would be a tripping hazard. The hazard could be particularly problematic when the boat is really lively. So we tried a simple solution which was to heave-to on a port tack. This worked but we lost time because we were on the wrong tack and going the wrong way, albeit slowly. We made enough water to fill the drinking water carbuoy and we will wait until the next time we are on a port tack to make a contribution to the main tanks. That could be in the next week or so.
We have all accommodated the idea that we are going to be doing this for at least another 20 days before we land in Nuku Hiva. If all of those days are as good as the first six, we will be fine.