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Preparing for Sea–Sea Trials

April 23, 2011

I’ve made a number of changes to Murre over the last few weeks: rebuilt the wind vane, added an inner forestay for a storm jib, re-rigged the genoa pole, re-“thunk” spinnaker deployment, added chain and a new, BRUCE-type anchor to the bow, installed lee cloths for a sleeping berth in the main cabin, etc. What’s more, none of my radio communications equipment works when in a marina (the close proximity of other sailboat masts create too much interference). Thus, since it’s important all these systems work, better to test them in Bahia de La Paz than on the big blue. So we departed Marina Palmira yesterday for a two day, very local cruise.

I can report that the rebuilt vane works and works wonderfully. Besides remaining afloat and mobile, wind-driven directional stability is of prime importance to our cruising success, and a test on all points of sail, including straight downwind, wing and wing (light wind, no swell at all) showed the device in good working order. It still squeaks though.

That was yesterday. Today I redid the lee cloth install in the morning (small jobs can take forever) and then in the afternoon and just as the lovely Coromuel died right away I raised the spinnaker. Just my luck, I thought. I had wanted to raise the spinnaker in light wind, not NO wind. But true to form, within ten minutes the southerly had become a northerly and soon Murre was making two knots in a five knot breeze. What joy to be slipping through the water on a zephyr barely qualified to lift a daisy seed. What joy, except our heading was the beach. So I also learned that my 40 year old, symmetrical, “racing” spinnaker being flown as if it were an asymmetrical, cruising spinnaker will allow points of sail just shy of the beam.

And the radio. Many of the boats already on the way to the Marquesas are in radio contact. They’ve formed a loose network and meet at regular times. I am one of the last boats to leave, so the prospect of contacting front runners for weather is appealing. At anchor last night I could only faintly make out net control (the boat that moderates the larger conversation) but I heard DON QUIXOTE, a catamaran that recently departed Mexico, discuss twenty knot winds and large seas from the northwest. “The bar is dropping and we have cloud cover, but we’re hoping for a quiet night,” he said in a tone of voice suggesting he knew his hope was futile. Tonight net control is still faint, as are many of the reporters, until a woman’s voice booms in. She is on a boat at 11 degrees north and 122 degrees west, roughly 1000 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas. No wind: six foot swell from the south. So its a mixed bag.

And I wanted to test this, this post. Most of my communications over the next several months will be over single sideband radio, including blog posts. What you are reading right now was sent from the middle of the bay. Did it work? I don’t have internet access, so you tell me.

A Coromuel whines in the rigging as I write. The night sky is without a moon, but the stars are no brighter for it. Orion is setting in the west, a proud warrior severed by a horizon I cannot see and pierced by the bright strobe from the local power plant. We depart in four days. It gives one pause.

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One Comment
  1. Bolster permalink
    April 28, 2011 9:19 pm

    YOTREPS now 5 days out of date…

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