After my worries on Monday regarding the rudder support, I am happy to report that all is well on board. For the last 24h, the rudder piece has not moved, all the bolts are tight and there is almost no water coming in.
Last night was a beautiful evening. We watched the moon glistening over the ocean as we were gliding smoothly. During the night we passed under 10° of Latitude North and we are now racing to the Equator.
The wind is a very comfortable 15 knots and we do speeds around 8 knots. When the wind goes up to 18 knots, our speed goes up to 9 knots.
This Wednesday morning the sky is overcast, we are in the equatorial region now. The air is definitely warm and humid. Luckily because of the wind, it feels cooler.
Since yesterday we started spotting big amounts of Sargasse seaweed, it’s a brown algae that overwhelms the coasts of Latin Amerioa. It was thought that it came from Brazil but obviously it comes from Africa as well.
In the morning, we did some maintenance, Serge serviced a winch that was seized.
We started having our first tropical rain, it was still droplets. I suspect there will be more in the days to come.
I thought I was going to write a quiet and uneventful news… but it turned out there were more adventures in store… In the afternoon, the wind had diminished somewhat to 13 knots, so we decided to unfurl the code 0, at the same time, I rolled up the mainsail. I wanted to spare the boom and its fittings on the mast. Indeed Sandrino reminded: “He who wants to travel far, spares his mount.” We were moving well, aroound 9 knots. After an hour or two, the block that was holding the tack of the sail gave way. We manage to grab the tack back, furled the sail normally and brought it down. Unfortunately, as the sail was coming down, the shackle opened and the halyard remained above. The top of the sail was stuck between the first spreader and the shrouds. I had to go to the top of the mast. I first unfurled the mainsail so as to stabilize the boat, still in a moving sea, it’s a little bit like rodeo riding at 25 m. You have to hold the mast tightly! But all went well, halyard and sail were securely brought back on deck.
We then put the gennaker up instead of the parasailor. It’s an easy sail to handle and it’s in a socket. The sail was working beautifully. We were quite satisfied, I furled the mainsail again and we continued sailing at a good clip.
Niels prepared a Dahl for dinner, an Indian dish with lentils and rice. It was excellent. After dinner we watched Skyfall, the James Bond movie. Meanwhile outside the wind was picking up going to 18 and sometimes 20 knots. The movie had just finished and we went outside to enjoy the view and the fast ride, the boat was regularly above 10 knots going sometimes to 11 or even 12 knots! I was thinking that above 20 knots was the limit for that sail. I wanted to steer myself to see the efforts on the wheel. Just as I preparing to take over, the autopilot could not handle a sudden gust of wind and the boat suddenly broached, tearing the gennaker along the way.
Ah well, so much for steering… We brought the torn spinnaker back on board and tidied all the lines on the front deck. Soon we unfurled the genoa again and were soon moving forward, albeit a little bit slower. I was reassuring Larissa and Niels that, although it’s unfortunate, spinnaker tears happens frequently. Serge was telling the story of a famous french boat, 33 Export. On a delivery from France to Portucal, they had 14 spinnakers on board, they tore all 14 of them!
By the way, I forgoy yo mention that Niels is an excellent baker. He baked Monday night an excellent multigrain bread that we savoured the next day and this morning for breakfast. I think there is nothing like the smell of fresh bread being baked on a boat. More so, on an ocean going boat. Thank you Niels.