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Mistakes

May 21, 2011

Position: 04.21.16S 134.33.91W
Course: 220t
Speed: 6 knots
Wind: 13 SSE
Sea: 4 SSE
Sky: 90%
Temp: 80 degrees
Bar: 1013

133 miles since yesterday. Moving now. Trades these must be.

Logistics note: my “noon” is 2000 gmt.

MISTAKES

Two.

One, I wasn’t paying attention and let Murre lose her weather gauge on Hiva Oa. For days we’ve been several miles east and upwind of our rum line course for the island. Being upwind gives us the advantage of easing into port without any fancy maneuvers–having to tack to it, for example. But over the last day the wind has backed more into the SSE and before I knew it we were five miles below our rum line. So now we’re close hauled in growing trades and seas. Murre is taking water over the bow every wave and over the cabin top with frequency. It’s uncomfortable for her and dizzying for me if I’m below. I’ve had to reef down: the mizzen is dowsed altogether and I have a reef in the main. We’re healed at about 30 degrees. Given that and the pounding, I’m surprised we’re still making better than five knots over the ground.

Two, I’ve been fighting a persistent leak of sea water into the head, i.e. into the toilet bowl. In rougher weather I’ve had to sponge out clear sea water once an hour or so and still plenty of it has got into the bilge, but not before soaking cans of paint and food, bottle of oil and other supplies as it passes. It’s a big mess down there. I haven’t used the head since Cabo, but instead have been practicing the ancient art of bucket-and-chuckit, which I must say is a complicated art in a seaway. (I find fitting that my bucket is an old container of bottom paint remover.) That I haven’t used the head has added to the mystery. The only hole without a valve is the vent line, which is on the banging, leeward side of the boat, but I’ve bunged it and still water comes in. Today I finally reasoned that one of the seacocks must be malfunctioning. I undid the water intake hose, but no water was dripped from its closed seacock. Then I looked in the head sink compartment where the head tank drain line and seacock live. I’d felt it closed many times over the last few weeks, but had never actually looked. IT WAS OPEN. I had misremembered the direction of the piping and so thought it was closed when it has actually been open since Cabo San Lucas.

I have dismantled the lock and latch to the head today. The latch has been sticking for some time and the big joke among cruisers who visited me in Mexico was that I would one day be found dead, locked in my own head, pants around my ankles, an unhappy look on my face. As seems to be the case with intricate things, its many pieces came apart with ease. It took half an hour of disassembly just to get to the latch, which sadly, is not fixable. It’s worn out.

Have run the engine twice today. In the morning it started roughly, but it started.

Slowly Murre is working to weather of her new course to Hiva Oa. I worry for her, but so far she is fine. Surely she is better than her crew who looks around wondering what’s for dinner that doesn’t require cooking.

Fewer than 400 miles to go.

That’s my report for today.

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