5/6 Mar 08 Up the mast again - but at sea, this time!

Thursday 6th March '08

A delicate white tropic bird flew by again yesterday & this evening, shortly after a lovely sunset, I saw a small dark bird skimming the waves - probably a petrel. No other life seen, although a couple more flying fish were on deck again this morning.

The wind has been mainly light from S/SSE, mostly up to 12kn - very pleasant, enjoyable, gentle sailing (with air temperature today up to 30C!) but far too slow at times... I started the motor when boatspeed dropped to under 3 knots & motor-sailed while charging the batteries! Of course, light winds from abaft the beam & overcast skies mean very little help from wind generator or solar panels.

I took advantage of the calmer conditions Thursday afternoon to go up the mast to the top spreader to retrieve the starboard line which held up the damaged lazyjacks. It all went fine & I only had to hold on tightly to the mast a couple of times when we rolled in bigger swell! I sewed & seized a join where a damaged line had chafed and parted and then raised the lazyjack lines back up. I'm hoping my mending will last to Trinidad (nearly 4,000 miles away) where I'll be able to replace the old line with new. As I passed the pole uphaul where it enters the mast, I inspected that as well - I'd noticed from deck-level that there was chafe damage there...but it doesn't look too bad, although that's another item on the shopping list for Trinidad. The mast steps I had installed in San Diego (with help from Selden US) are certainly proving useful!

I've been trying to sort out where in my radio system I should add a new line isolator and ferrite chokes I had sent out to me in S. Africa. I'm trying to get rid of a RFI (radio frequency interference) problem in the SSB radio system which is also affecting the computer & Pactor modem used for emailing via radio. At present, I'm still having major problems: 1) PC often 'hangs up' (telling me, "ERROR: Communications with the PTC-IIpro have been lost.") when trying to connect, especially on 12 & 14 MHz - often JUST as I'm actually getting connected; 2) other times, PC doesn't respond to a successful connection being made by the radio/modem & sits there, still saying it's calling the station ... then I have to close the Airmail program down & re-start it.... all very frustrating, as well as time- & power-consuming. Then, if battery power is below about 12.4V, the call attempt is often unsuccessful anyway, with the Pactor modem showing its anger by flashing all possible lights at me as it refuses to make the call attempt. Then I have to close the Terminal window on the PC down & open it up again & try a different frequency, after switching off & on the radio.... It all gets very convoluted & annoying....

I'm hoping to make St Helena in daylight on Saturday, staying just long enough to do a quick tour of what everyone tells me is a lovely, interesting island, & top up water & maybe fuel before making for Trinidad, 3750 miles away - a passage passing close by Brazil and across the Equator, which will probably take nigh on 30 days. If I can sort out my generator problem in the meantime, so much the better -it's far more economical on fuel for re-charging batteries than running the main engine - which it is not good to run when not under load.

Written by : Mike

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