Petty Breakages and a visit from Big Brother

Date: July 17, 2016, 4 a.m. Position: 12 11.00 S, 128 35.00 E

We had a good day of sailing in light breezes–sometimes wing-on-wing, sometimes on a beam reach. We’ve had the downwind pole set out to Port ever since leaving Vanuatu and it makes switching the sail plan very easy. We just keep the pole out when we tack the Yankee. It the winds go Easterly, we pull the Yankee out to the pole, and if the winds go southerly, we slip the Yankee back over to the Starboard side of the boat (port tack) leaving the lazy sheet running all the way out to the end of the pole. It looks a bit funny but its very convenient. Right now the winds have gone pretty light and we are ghosting along at about 3 knots. The moon is dazzling, almost like a second daylight, and we can do all of our deck work at night without having to use headlamps or turn on the LED spreader lights.

Over the past few days we’ve had a few very annoying breakages of our gear. One of our dinghy floorboard connectors snapped (thankfully our friend Tom brought 2 spares to NZ for us!) and then one of the Monitor thumb pegs sheared off. I dug around in the spares bag and found an extra one of these too. Both of these pieces of gear are made out of plastic, which is a very poor material to use on anything marine-related as the UV rays quickly make it brittle. But today’s breakage was a bit more serious. As we un-reefed the main and took halyard tension back up, the mainsheet winch made an unpleasant breaking-metal “ka-CHUNK” and ceased working. We quickly improvised by taking a turn around the broken winch and leading the halyard forward to the anchor windlass drum. While Kelsey worked the lever for the windlass I was able to tail the halyard, and we got the Main sail hoisted full again. We will have to do this 2-person process until we anchor on flat water next and I can have a good look at the inside of the winch. Fingers crossed. They say that bad luck comes in sets of three so hopefully that is it for a little while. It dawned on me today just how far we’ve sailed these past few years, and with the intense usage our gear receives, it’s amazing that everything has held up as well as it has (I’m knocking on wood right now).

Today we had our first encounter with the Australian Border Force aircraft. First, a VHF radio call came out of nowhere, and we were asked for our voyage plan details. Then about 5 minutes later, a rather large aircraft flying only 100 feet off the surface of the water buzzed the boat. It was all a bit surreal and a very strange way for me to get woken up from my afternoon nap. I’m sure they snapped some photos of the boat as they whooshed by. If the Border Force wanted to recoup some of the astronomical costs of their surveillance state (aside from the initial sky-high Quarantine entry fees), they could offer to sell the pics to the yachties! I’d buy one for sure. We looked good out there today sailing along wing-on-wing. I made sure to give the pilot the “full view” as I clambered out into the cockpit buck naked 🙂

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