Straight shooting

Date:June 16, 2016, 4 a.m.
Position:13 23.00 S, 150 51.00 E

The winds went light this morning and we stretched Privateer’s wings fully out, and sailed along beautifully at 6-7 knots in the sunrise. Soon after the sun came up the winds filled in again. We took in a reef in the main and went single-reef in 20-22 knots. We’ve been running wing-on-wing for the last 1,100 NM now, certainly a record for Privateer! We reeled back another 148 miles from noon-to-noon since yesterday. Kelsey did a 12-knot surf on her watch. Arrow Privateer flies straight across the Coral Sea.

Taz didn’t go down for his afternoon nap today, so Kelsey had to do a heroic 12-hr “watch” with him, while I handled the boat. In the evening she gave him a bath in his inflatable tub. She couldn’t fill it too full, though, with the boat rocking the water sloshed up and over the sides. Taz really loves his baths and learned how to pour water over his head and scrub himself today.

We had a breakage on the boat today when a blue-beaked booby flew into our wind generator. It was a gruesome scene–blood spattered all over the cockpit and the poor bird landed on the tiller, which was engaged by the Monitor. For a few seconds it looked as if the bird would be decapitated by the control lines. Finally he managed to get free, and eventually flew away after recovering for a few hours. One of the blades on the wind generator is shattered now, effectively cutting off our wind power. The bird was a bad omen that made me very nervous, and I learned later in the day that my Mom had broken her foot at the same time as our bird incident!

We rely on solar panels, wind generator (windmill, a/k/a “the bird-grinder”), and engine alternator/charge controller to replenish our ship’s battery bank. Lately, the charge controller has been acting up. So with our wind down and questionable charge controller, we are now relying only on our solar panels. These work well for 6 hours in the morning, giving us about 60 amp-hours each day through the two panels that are in full sun. But in the afternoon the sun goes behind the as we sail West, and cuts off all solar input. The refrigerator alone uses about 60 amp hours of power per day, so we will have to shut it down for about 50% of the day until we can get the wind and charge controller back on-line. Electronics and Sailing are two words that are never meant to be used in the same sentence. Microchip circuitry and Chinese wiring jobs are no match for the powerful, corrosive sea-spray that permeates every aspect of our lives at sea.

The good winds are forecast to hold (incredibly) for another few days and settle down to a gentle breeze (hopefully) as we pick our way through the Great Barrier Reef and the Torres Strait. We are on our final 500 miles of greater Pacific Ocean sailing. Once past Cape York, Australia’s Northernmost extremity, we enter into the Arafura Sea and into the Indian Ocean…

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