Saturday, 21 January 2017

Atlantic Crossing Day 12

At 1700 UTC our position was 17.59.53N, 37.28.39W.

What a difference two days makes!!! I bet all of you have been tired of our "oh how wonderful life is on board Maple in the big blue". Well that all changed on the evening of Day 10 after all of the whale excitement and sushi dinner. I (Janet) was on watch from 2200 to 0000 and at around 2300 I heard something go bang. Because the wind was reaching the limit of us flying the spinnaker, Darryl fell asleep in the cockpit in case we needed to quickly make a sail change. After an inspection in the pitch black (the moon was not up yet), we discovered that a block that held the spinnaker about two meters down from the top of the mast had broken free. This left the spinnaker halyard flying directly from the masthead, which is not what our rigging is designed for. So we woke up Jeff and Sandra to take on the task of taking the spinnaker down in the dark. Precisely why we had originally said we would never fly the spinnaker at night. But that 7 to 8 knots of boat speed is so darn intoxicating.

Fortunately for once that spinnaker actually came down relatively easily, small blessings! And then the rest of the night we were left bobbing along with only the headsail at 4 to 5 knots. Lame!

This is where I need to put a plug in for the amazing sailing community we are so fortunate to belong to! Darryl immediately emailed other cruisers, most of whom we met during our long stay in Las Palmas. D even sent off an email to the rigger who re-did our rigging in Palma this summer on the off chance he could provide some input on our options. By the next morning, we had heard back from other cruisers, Mike, Peter and Janna, as well as our rigger. So wonderful that from a distance and in the middle of the ocean, we are able to reach out for support. So D and Jeff spent the day tinkering with various ways to make a fix. Unfortunately yesterday the seas were less comfortable with swell coming from multiple directions. Not a day for anyone to head up the mast. So we just puttered slowly along with the headsail.

Wouldn't you know it that the resident whale came to check up on us again last night! What a welcome sight after a bit of a tough day. Jeff even saw the whale do a complete breech from the water. Too bad the Go-Pro wasn't running at that moment.

This brings us to today! We are officially at the halfway mark to Barbados! So we have plans for a Halfway There Celebration. But first we had some work to do. Overnight, the SSB radio stopped working. So that was first up, after reconnecting some lose wires we are back in business. Now the tough part. D going up the mast to make a fix in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The seas were a bit more gentle today, but for those of you who have never ventured up a 17 meter mast, what you discover is any slight movement just creates a pendulum up there. So needless to say, D was not excited at the prospect of climbing the mast, but it had to be done. Unfortunately the Go-Pro mounted to his head didn't really show the work he was doing up there, but I believe it did beautifully capture the copious amount of cursing every time the swell hit us on the side, which was pretty much every second swell. With his legs firmly wrapped around the mast and a tether around him to try to keep him close to the mast, he managed to make the temporary fix. And we have just hoisted the spinnaker and all is looking good so far!!! Much happier with the 6 knots of boat speed to the 4 we have been averaging the last 24 hours.

It was an amazing team effort from those on Maple! Jeff and I winching D up the mast. Sandra at the helm with the impossible task of trying to keep the swell hitting the stern as gentle as possible. Have I mentioned before how grateful we are to have these beautiful people on board with us?!?!?

But wait, the excitement is not over yet! After we get back inside the boat patting ourselves on the back for a job well done, I notice the fresh water pump and bilge pump are running!!! Are you kidding me??? Yes, after a quick investigation, we found that a newly installed water filter had cracked its housing and was leaking water into the bilge. We figure we may have lost about 100 liters. Is it true that bad things happen in threes? If so, hopefully that is all there is.

As for marking the milestone of reaching the halfway mark, the girls had bought loads of candy before we left, which they hid and brought out as a surprise. I made crepes with all the trimmings for lunch after all the work was done. The cava is chilling in the fridge for a much deserved, very small sip. And the most exciting part of all: HOT SHOWERS!!! We have been running the port engine to heat up the water and it is heaven to feel clean for the first time in 12 days.

Here is to smoother sailing from here on out!

Love to all from,

The Maple Crew

PS: If you do respond to this email, please delete my original email first as it will speed up when we download any responses. Thank you!

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