And the beat goes on down here near Antarctica. It was actually quite a nice day today with sunshine and moderate winds, which allowed me to do a few chores and clean the boat up a bit.
I discovered that a batten in the staysail had poked through at the luff so I needed to un-hank the sail and send it below in order to make the repair. I decided just to stitch over the tear, as I did not think that sticky back tape would last in that location, but I had to use a drill and small diameter bit to get the needle and thread through the thick and tough sail cloth. It went pretty smoothly and now it is back up and looks fine, but will have to see if it withstands the test of time.
My next issue was with kelp on both the keel and the rudder. I used my Japanese tree-cutter blade to get the rudder clear, but the seas were too rough and we were moving too fast for that to work on the keel. I could see through my little glass inspection port in the bottom of the boat that some kelp was wrapped around the top of the keel fin where it intersects with the hull and when the boat got going over ten knots it sent up a whining noise caused by the high speed vibration. It was loud and highly annoying so I rounded the boat up into the wind and tried to sail backwards twice to get it to come off- and some did- but not all- so it still makes a little sound but not near so bad.
I have been very pleased with the output of the hydro-generators through the new regulator box, which I have been monitoring very carefully. I let the batteries discharge down to about 12 volts and then put the hydro down and let it charge the batteries up to about 12.7 volts and the new three new batteries hold the charge very well. I have not run the engine to charge via the alternator in about 6 days but will do so in a day or two just to give the engine a run and make sure everything is happy.
So today, with the wind forecast to stay below 20k for 12-18 hours, I was able to go from two reefs in the main and the staysail to a full mainsail and the A5 gennaker, with the staysail set underneath it. The boat is cruising along at 10-12 knots happily and it feels good to have a sail set off the sprit for the first time in a while.
Mentally and psychologically I feel I am more back in the groove after a tough re-start out of Cape Town. I am falling into a routine and that helps make the time go by more quickly and I feel more grounded. I am working on some time-speed-distance estimates for my time to New Zealand, then time to Cape Horn and then time to get back to Newport and will publish the estimates probably on Sunday, when Ken Campbell from Commanders Weather is back from his vacation and able to give me a second opinion. From my math, completing this voyage in under 137 days at sea seems very possible.
Before I set off, I assured my family that four months would go by in the blink of an eye. Well... I'm not sure what they think... but for me, this has been one very long blink. Like most things that are hard, time seems to slow down while you are doing it, and you count the days till you are back, and then when it is over, you wish you were back out there. Interesting dilemma. But for someone who can sometimes be a lone wolf, it’s good to be reminded of the need for the human warmth of companionship. So I am trying to learn from these solitary days in the Southern Ocean… with lots of time spent scanning out over the endless ocean, watching the birds dip and soar, watching the incredible cloud formations scud by, the sun and moon peek in and out of view… and burning these visions into memories… and trying to take what the sea has to offer for learning.
And for some strange reason- I have nothing but Steve Miller Band songs running through my head- so put a few SMB songs on tonight and I'll bet you will be rockin' in your kitchen.