It’s “Privateer” o-clock…

Date: Sept. 2, 2016, 4 a.m. Position: 13 58.73 S, 91 59.18 E

Around 2am last night (“Ghost of Murphy” time) one of our Monitor control lines chafed through and snapped, causing the boat to sail to windward. The conditions were so gentle that we didn’t even notice until we’d sailed one mile after the break. Luckily Taz was asleep, and Kelsey helmed the boat while I monkeyed around at the transom, rigging a new dyneema line. We were soon on course again.

We had an ideal day of sailing in low seas and 16 knot breezes, hauling in another 154 NM in the last 24 hours. Easy miles! The boat is gliding along as if she’s on a string. During a few stretches of the day, we made 7.5 knots and it barely felt like we were even moving. We’ve been talking on the SSB to a few sailboats about a thousand miles ahead of us. One of them is experiencing 50-knot winds and 7 meter seas right now… it’s all about being in the right place at the right time!

In the late afternoon one dark squall came up on us from the south. I was hoping it’d nail us so we could rinse the salt off the boat, but it passed just ahead of Privateer and off over the horizon, and left us under sunny skies again. The Indian Ocean is the saltiest of the three great Oceans, and salt crystals are growing all over the boat. They look like little square snowflakes, sticking to all our stainless steel and covering the solar panels.

For the past few days the Monitor has been making a troubling creaking noise, which I finally identified today. One of the pendulum shaft bushings (plastic) was cracked and had almost slipped out of the tube. Luckily, I was able to push it back in, but there is still some metal-to-metal contact between the tube and the frame where the bushing collar is missing. We’ll have to sail the passage as-is, until we get to port and can remove the pendulum and replace the bushings with our spares. It’s not a critical repair and the Monitor should function just fine for the remainder of the passage. We’ll keep a close eye on it. I sprayed the hell out of all the moving parts on the Monitor with my trusty can of “Team McLube”. Plastic has no place on a boat in the tropics. It instantly turns brittle and cracks apart. All exposed plastic parts on an ocean-going boat should be considered as needing annual replacement. It goes without saying that the Monitor is the most important piece of gear on board, as it does the job of two permanent helmsmen. It gives us the gift of time–and sleep–and it allows us to do things other than steer the boat 24 hrs a day.

It’s funny the games you play in your head at sea on a long passage. The GPS started at around 2,000 miles and I’ve been watching the number decreasing, while imagining that our miles-to-destination number is the year, and thinking about what was happening in the world at that time. A few nights ago we were in WW2 (1943) and then soon the 1929 Great Depression. The 1800s were really great, and today we passed 1776, American Independence, and as I write this the year is 1626, but my mind draws a blank on that one. Counting down to the birth of Christ…

Time and days and nights begin to meld together on passage and we settle into our own little world out here. Passage time. Magic time.

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