Monday, February 19, 2007

Bermuda to St. Martin - November 26, 2006 - December 2, 2006

Our second passage was much easier than our first. No force 10 storm. No 30 foot waves. No 30 hours hove-to. No 60 kt gusts. We did have a steady 25-35 knots of breeze for much of the trip, with seas that ranged between 12 and 20 feet. Without the first trip, I would have been terrified when the seas got big, but instead we simply reefed down and set the staysail. With each passage we become more confident in ourselves and the boat.

But lest I make is seem like a walk in the park - we were both taking turns booting at the leeward rail for the first two days, but by the fourth day we were both comfortable functioning down below. Unfortunately, we were on port tack for almost all of the trip, which means that our settee is barely useable, you have to brace yourself to keep your perch on the head, anything you try to cook in the microwave attempts to coat the front of your foul weather gear when you open the door, and the only comfortable place to be down below is in our bed. Sten did manage to make some fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches and quesadillas. I made tea one morning (baby steps folks, baby steps), which is quite a bit harder in a boat that is rolling back and forth than on our stove at home.

It was really to rough to fish, but on the second to last day of passage Sten put out the fancy lure that he bought at the NPT boat show to see if we could catch a sushi dinner for our first night in St. Martin. Within 10 minutes it was hit by something big and pelagic, which promptly bit off the business end of the arrangement. We were bummed about the loss, and Sten admitted that he should have had it on a wire leader, but it was really too rough to be dealing with fighting (especially with no gaff - lost overboard during the first leg) and cleaning a fish.

Other than our personal discomfort, and Lenore’s hunger strike part II, one of the only bits of trouble on this trip came from our autopilot, which beeped at us quite a bit to tell us that the big rollers that we were taking on our stern quarter were causing it to be off course. One time it shut down on us. We knew from our delivery run last summer that the Robertson AP22 was a bit overpowered running downwind in big following seas. As part of our refit we purchased an AP26, and installed a support bracket, ram, junction box and control head, and ran most of the wires; but we didn’t have time to hook it all up (wires and pump) and install the rate compass before heading south. It is on our St. Martin worklist, but chances are, we won’t need it until we head to the ABC’s on route to Panama in March, so it may not happen until down island. The other concerns we had this passage were the refrigerator (it still takes too long to come down in temp), the batteries (charging still seems to take a long time), the steering cables (making a bit of noise), and the new mainsail (makes a hell of a lot of noise downwind and needs some chaffing patches at the spreaders). We’ll address these during the next month, while we hang out in and near St. Martin, with its duty free chandleries and plethora of marine services.

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