Monday, March 19, 2012

Space Junkies

In waking up for watch you do expect some things to be different (see previous blog) but if you were told that it may be the end of the world for you and that possibly within hours you were going to be obliterated by an inter galactic meteor, well you would just have to except it as being fate.
But when you realise that you could be wiped out by an old piece of discarded technology, then you start to ask a few more questions ? you get the feeling like there is a chance of the local garbage truck arriving in you neighbourhood, but there is a likelihood that it is going to run off the road and it's going to be one of the houses in your street that will be flattened. Well, where am I going with all of this..... We received on the boat's communication system that gives us current location information about sea safety and meteorology details (yehhh really safe news) that we were in the middle of a sea area that has been designated as the re-entry location for a
one month period of space junk.Now we are not talking a small area either, so there is not the option of just changing course for a few hours to avoid this, we are talking thousands of square nautical miles and we are pretty much in the middle of it.
Hmm I wonder what our insurance company would or will say when we try to lodge a claim for damages because a few tons of space crap came landing on the foredeck and wiped out half the boat ? It would be a bit like trying to say to your insurance company that someone threw a huge box of old Commodore 64 computers out of a high rise building and it landed on your car.So as much as we can't do much about this, we can only keep our eyes open and hope like hell that space junk is not attracted to other metallic objects floating in the sea. Stephen
PS : last known position is 34 14 S 144 42 W , 939nm to Pitcairn

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Watch

From the dusty recesses of our minds our watch begins.
It starts with the waking, not always so peacefully, but the wake up call comes, the vivid dreams are cut, and the new day that only lasts for hours commences.
Where am I, and what is happening is often the thought. With real images of those dreams that entertained our minds we climb out from our beds.
Our beds are our cocoon, the one safe retreat when the watch is over.
Each watch is never the same, each has its challenges, its pleasures and its pains.
The watch is a way of a sailor's life, it can't be missed, and it can't be denied.
For hundreds of years the sailors chant is to do the swing, the good ones and the bad.
This watch may not be great, but marked as a day, the next may be grand.
Within 24 hours there is many a chance, to see the greatness of the world and the colours of god's grace.The wet cold watch is a dreaded event, but those in the dark are a nightmare's disgrace.
Who can think, that a sailor can delight, and endure the rigors of a constant moving life.
Once the clouds of sleep have withered from ones head, the day begins and works there to keep.
Don't doubt the seeming despair, once commenced the watch is there to share.
Great wonders of life, true sharing of the times, brings sailors together in task and in mind. Stephen

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Some days

Ya know, some days, well they just take the piss ! pardon my French (not that, that is French at all, just an aussie expression)
I have always said that its a skippers prerogative to change their minds, its a healthy seamanship thing, that one must be flexible in one's thinking, and today has been one of those. Bullet points, like my work lists may make this easier to explain.

1: Barometer stopped dropping and winds were strong, but not extreme 28 to
32 knots, 4 reefs in the main and reduced head sails, trucking along nicely.
2: Broad reach and running conditions needed a better balance on the sail
plan so the full crew was on deck to pole out a reduced head sail.
3: Jane on the helm hits the days record of 15.5 knots of boat speed.
4: Wave breaks on the aft quarter of the boat and the entire crew are
swimming in the cockpit, safe and sound but bloody soaked.
5: Pole back down as the boat isnt sitting well, winds now 48 knots true
6: Winds still building and skipper says that the forecast was rubbish.
7: Furled up all of the yankee and hove too as the winds are now 52 to 54
knots (smart move)
8: All below, and dry out a bit (remove fish from pockets)
9: Check new weather grib files, skipper looks depressed, this low is now
not only stronger but is being backed up by another new low in 36 hours,
that makes this one look like a kindergarten !
10: Skipper finally gets some sleep (you can tell by the snoring)
11: Winds ease a bit by 6pm, and the plan is to make a move on (34 to 38
knots, nearly tropical)
12: Team on deck for preparation to sail, crew from cockpit signal skipper
with waving arms raised aloft ( not a middle eastern religious heavenly
13: Skipper realizes that the sun is shinning through a large hole about 3
meters vertically above the fourth reef in the main sail (this is not
normal )
14: Skipper mouths the words Oh F.....k, not that any of the crew could hear
this as its still blowing 40
15: Main sail fully dropped and lashed to the boom.
16: Crew not sure what to say to Skip, as this potentially changes what was
planned "Big Time"
17: Cigarette smoke smelt from the companion way, must be lots of thinking
going on
18: Xplore gets back under sail with 50% yankee and partial staysail, new
course north.
19: Jane starts looking on the navigation chart plotter for the nearest port
on the NZ coast.
20: Skipper consults and an initial plan is made, Gisbourn or Napier ? two
and a half, one the other ?
21: NZ Taupo maritime radio contacted for advice, great bunch, top help,
fast and right there on the ball.
22: Sail maker friend (Pirate Pearl) contacted back in Nelson, and a call
going through to North Sails in Auckland AM tomorrow to arrange for
immediate repair time at their sail loft.
23: Marina space booked and customs notified of our re-arrival for 2pm
 So now its just a case of getting back to a nice fresh sail, don't have to let the main out, as its not there, but we are still doing 8.5 to 10 knots of boat speed, the winds right up the clacker and still blowing 34 to 42 knots. Stephen