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19/20/21March08 Wonderfully relaxed sailing in bright sun or under bright moon! ....most of the time

Wed/Maundy Thursday/Good Friday 19/20/21 March'08 - Wonderfully relaxed downwind sailing in bright sun during the day, under a bright moon at night! ....at peace & relaxed until I go to start the engine & it splutters ominously.....!!

What more can I say? This has the reputation of being one of the most enjoyable passages in the world - and it's certainly living up to its reputation!! ....

...Except for this afternoon, when I started up the engine to charge the batteries to get the voltage up for using the SSB for emailing & weather. It was OK for a very short while but then started dying..... I'd just switched to the main tank, worried that maybe the small tank was getting low on fuel. I started to congratulate myself for having done that, perhaps, in the nick of time, as I revved up the engine a touch more, thinking that maybe air had got into the fuel system.... then it started faltering even more .... I rushed down to look in the engine compartment - all looked fine - maybe the filter was clogged .. "& when did you last check for water in the sight-glasses?" I demanded of myself... I caught sight of the pressure gauge attached to the filters - well over into the red.... I tried the other tank - the gauge swung back into yellow. I'm going to have to change that filter .... so I went to turn off the fuel at the main tank ... the valve was closed!! "What an idiot, you are...!!" But what a relief!! I had to laugh.... All was fine after all & I've now bled both sight-glasses - very little water in there - as I did so I remembered that I'd changed every filter (fuel & oil) when I did the last oil change in S.Africa not so long ago.... & I'd obviously forgotten to open the valve on the main tank - which usually gets used last (because it's on the port side and we list slightly to starboard...!) Oh well ... on with the job of transferring more fuel to the small tank... but first I can really relax ... teatime!!..........

Boats a week ahead of me on a similar path reported calms & squalls (but no lightning!) as they got north to around 4-5S and on to the Equator - at which point they found the NE Trades. I still have about 3 more days before reaching that area - so I'm maximizing my present enjoyment of these lovely sailing conditions. Every so often I think the wind is dying - and then find it's come back up again ... so far so good! Daily noon-to-noon runs have been not so bad considering the rather light winds: 107, 124, 136 n.mls

Jobs that have been keeping me busy over the last few days have been:

Checking on daily reported position of other boats to see where the ITCZ (Doldrums) was for them (squalls or calms!)
Lots more passage planning, looking at details on charts & marking in of waypoints on chart-plotter and laptop (I'd previously pencilled some in on paper) for onward passage towards Colon (Panama) from Trinidad.
Trying to get my Windpilot to keep a sensible course - it still keeps wandering off course, but Willem on 'Najade' has the identical one & says he has no problem in light wind on a dead run. Lots of PTFE spray lubrication of accessible joints has helped but it needs more looking at. Suggestions have been to spray more - with WD40, that the servo-pendulum may not be completely vertical or I should put a reef in the main to give better boat balance (I'm not keen on the latter suggestion since I feel it would slow me down!!)
Disconnecting & removing the water pump, which had stopped working, and checking it over .... I'd thought the problem was electrical. Electrics all fine but found filter was completely clogged with fine black layer of gunge and loads of grit ... when I powered up pump separately it worked fine - sigh of relief! - so re-installed it all after thoroughly cleaning filter & holder - ahora, es fabuloso!!
Some cleaning & polishing (always on the list!).... especially of a much-used, little whistling kettle which was looking very rusty & sorry for itself!! (Obviously doesn't like, and wasn't made for, the salty environment)

Today's job is to transfer diesel from jerrycans into my fuel tank while the seas are relatively calm. (It's actually a bit 'rolly' sailing downwind goosewinged, much more so when a bigger wave catches us, but generally it's not too bad - I'll just have to take care). I have my little in-line 12V fuel pump and a manual siphon pump to help with transferring from the big jerrycans but first need to re-make a couple of spade connections for the 12V power supply to the electric pump. (That job got delayed slightly... see above!!)

Last night was wonderful - I keep not wanting to go down below it's so nice sitting in the cockpit, sailing along gently under the bright moon - full tonight (Good Friday).

With that, I'll wish everyone a very Happy Easter!!

Written by : Mike

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