Posted by: catamarantwooceans | October 1, 2009

Not a Milk Run

29.9.09 – Tuesday – The leg from Moorea to Huahine is 80 nautical miles. It is an integral part of what is known in cruising circles as “The Milk Run”, that is going across the pacific from east to west following the trade-winds;  Not going against the wind, or visiting far off places like Easter Island, the Gambier etc.  This is supposed to be the easy way. With this in the back of our mind and with a forecast that predicted not more than 15 knots of wind, we set out Monday evening, following a gentle northeasterly, making a course of 306 degrees to destination and expecting an easy, pleasant, moonlit overnighter. In two hours we were doubly reefed, bashing into irregular seas and only able to make good 255 degrees, as a gusty, 25 knot northwesterly, accompanied by heavy rain, hit us. Every few minutes the wind shifted, making sails and course adjustments necessary. These were no conditions for my crew, with their limited sailing experience, to assume watch command; Although Gili came out from time to time to see how I was and to keep me company, there was no point in her staying out in the rain and she retired to our cabin. Unless the weather improves, it will have to me out there.

While the crew slept through the Rock and Roll ride, I faced a deteriorating situation developing. It started with the port lazy-jack ropes collapsing on deck with a failed connection between the upper rope and its thimble. The reefed sail spilled to the side, flapping, and it didn’t take long for the leach reef rope, the one holding the aft part of the sail to the back of the boom, to chafe and break. I was then in first reef and went down to second. As the wind rose further, I wanted to reef the jib. As is my custom in very strong winds, I bore away to put the wind astern and blanket the fore-sail by the mainsail, making it easier to furl. Releasing the jib sheet, it got stuck in the Spinlock and would not move. Shining my torch revealed that the outer braid of the rope separated from the core, bunched up, making it too big to pass through the blocking device aperture.  There was no choice but to use the upwind sheet to control the sail, cut the blocked rope, furl the jib and replace the damaged sheet. Sailing with a doubly reefed main and no jib was not going to get us anywhere so I started motor-sailing. It did not take long and the second leach line broke too! I took the main down. I will only be able to use it fully open with lighter wind. By then Gili joined to help and give moral support. We both agreed that it was not wise, really unsafe, to try and fix anything in the harsh conditions and dark, with squalls coming now and again to dump rain and fierce gusts on “Two Oceans” and its crew.

As first light appeared conditions stabilized. The wind backed and was now straight on our nose, northwesterly, highly irregular in the region. Huahine appeared on the horizon. I had Nir come out and took an hour to nap in the saloon. When I woke up the wind had backed even further and was now westerly, less than 20 knots. I opened the jib on starboard tack and replaced the port sheet. I brought the lazy-bag back into operation by using the spinnaker halyard as a substitute for the damaged line. The rest of the stuff will have to wait for tomorrow.  By that time the clouds dispersed and the sun shone brightly. We did the last 12 miles under full sail and at 1230 entered the lagoon through Avapeihi pass and anchored in calm, turquoise water behind the reef.



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