South Pacific Ocean, south of the 8th parallel
Location 08 ° 01 ‘, 00 South 118 ° 20’, 00 West
Miles traveled from Galapagos about 1760 and missing 1202 in Hiva or in clear skies, with some cloudy disturbance to the north and west, where we are going and where probably in the next few days we could encounter some thunderstorm phenomenon.
Temperature well above 30 ° C with acceptable humidity for being in the middle of an ocean.
The wind was constant once south of the 5th parallel, although weak and never violent, not even near the rare squalls that are so frequent in any ocean you go, but in the Pacific so far they have been, in fact, peaceful.
Yesterday was the day dedicated to Nello, our SPI, put ashore at 14, and it allowed us to catch every breeze in the full stern (180 ° rear wind), since it was very weak (12 real knots and 6/7 apparent) and allowed to sail at 6.5 knots, against 4 with white sails. Spinnaker sailing with a boat like Ariel is not easy, in the sense that it contrasts a bit with the usual ocean navigation, where you set the sails, the autopilot wind mode, and fine, Ariel does what it has to do, and sinuously dances safely taking you west. The Spinnaker, on the other hand, is a very light sail, of 220 square meters, which feels every gust and every change of trim of the boat, therefore with 2 meters of swell in the garden, it experiences moments in which it is full and swollen “pulling” really like a pair of horses ,others where it suffers from the wave and the sudden change of direction of the wind, deflating from the sheet side, and losing power. The only solution is to lead the Ariel foal by hand, and I do this for a few hours in the afternoon pushing it with 10/12 knots of wind up to 7; but the game cannot continue into the night, with the risk that, apart from the wind reinforcements, but that some yaw on the leeward side could injure the precious sail and tear it; then I always prefer driving in safety and comfort, even at the expense of lower speeds. Right choice also related to the weather analysis, with wind reinforcing already from the night. Set up with white sails, but aggressive, which I have defined as 3D (acronym for TRIDENT), with full mainsail on shore, left up to the rear shrouds, genoa tangonato on its walls, and free yankee on the other side,from the tack of the mainsail to collect the wind that in a normal trim would have been lost between the shrouds to slide towards the sea… while every breath must be collected by a sail.
3D has three advantages: the first that we collect all the wind that comes from the garden, but everything, the second that we buy half a knot if the wind is light and down to 1 knot when it exceeds 17 knots, this means that every 24 hours we travel 12 to 24 miles more than a normal white sails attitude; the third and final advantage is the stability of the boat, which suffers much less the annoying ocean roll. The defect is that we cannot keep a direction of the wind in the full stern, but in the left garden, with a course at destination of 10/15 degrees shifted, but, as the speed tables in regattas teach, if the speed of the boat is more than 10% compared to the shortest route, the fastest route is always worthwhile. Full downwind is the slowest, ever. The spinnaker is in fact a technical sail,always used in regattas precisely because it adds salt to the race, inserting the variable skill of the crew, in our long ocean voyages I am noticing that it is more the effort than the real gain, but it is fun, it is technical, and at the helm it gives intoxication, so be it, but in small doses. In fact, nowadays even the boats of the Golden Globe, (regatta around the world in solitary without stop and without assistance) the Imoca 60, no longer have the spinnaker, but only small size gennakers (you must always listen, read to learn), and assimilate it a great deal from the technical condition of conducting the solitairo’s boat, for the simplicity of the maneuvers and the purity of the gestures that on board must have the minimum risk with the maximum yield, not so much to aspire to sail alone, but since many times we are alone in two,or others with guests without regatta experience, having a maximum safety management is a winner, and above all where you are safe, you have peace of mind, and at sea in the middle we need only this.
Readers will forgive some technical digressions, which will instead be appreciated by sailors, but now I hear Ariel running at 8 knots, with the 3D, perfectly stable, on course with 19 knots of real wind and the ocean that slowly swells and becomes absolute master, while the soundtrack of the Ceci play list floods the square, a pod of dolphins comes to visit us, and the gaze can be lost for hours indefinitely, this is very close to perfection.
But yesterday was the 13th, Friday, and without any superstition, everything you touched signaled a problem. We started with the engine, which we turned on because it had been silent for days, and Oliver does not like to be left too alone, so to heat the water in the boiler, also because it is faster than the “electric water heater”, I started the engine. A few moments pass, the time to record in my mind the new noises that must be associated with the existing ones, and I realize that something different is looming in the trained ears, and in fact from the drain no water comes out, but only smoke. It switches off and the engine room checks begin: impeller and sea water filter, both in place. We think we have something that blocks the flow of water in the sea intake from the outside.We prepare the Gopro for an underwater shooting while navigating to explore the hull: nothing abnormal, no plastic bags or nets or anything else suspicious.
We then disconnect the seacock and check the absolute patency of the pipe and of the outlet itself, which open and free lets in the usual stream of water. Mumble mumble. We do not understand. The only strange thing is the absence of water in the sea intake circuit, pipes and filter, as if it were drawn off and as if air had entered it. Check all the clamps of the system that appear all soft, and we proceed to revise the circuit and correct the tightening of the clamps. We bring Oliver back to life and everything seems fine, the water comes out regularly. We put to rest and after half an hour I try a second attempt to confirm that the danger has escaped, but I still seem to perceive the same problem. However, we are working with the spinnaker, I turn off everything and enjoy sailing, attributing the cause of everything to Friday 13th.
Domani è un altro giorno e vedremo; il domani di ieri è l’oggi, ma è sabato e non lavoriamo al motore, lo faremo lunedì, ora ci godiamo questo oceano fresco, brillante ed energico nella speranza di recuperare miglia verso ovest, dove almeno abbiamo la certezza che non verremo utilizzati come “maiali lunghi” e messi allo spiedo, ma speriamo accolti con la attuale consueta (dicono) gentilezza d’animo e curiosità. ANche noi siamo curiosi, come i bambini, mentre coinciamo a leggere resoconti e guide per progettare una visita programmata alle isole del gruppo delle Marchesi che visiteremo. Quello che però ancora non ci è dato di sapere è se la nostra crew attuale potrà fare ritorno in Italia, stanti le attuali restrizioni sui voli aerei da e per l’Europa via U.S.A., fatto che potrebbe costringerli a rimanere a bordo fino a nuove linee guida. Margherita con Maurizio e Beppe si stanno preparando mentalmente ed organizzando per restare ancora un mese, almeno fino a Papeete, sperando in un progressivo quanto auspicabile ridimenisonamento del serio problema del covid 19.
See you tomorrow from Ariel team