Tuesday, November 04, 2008

November 3, 2008 - South China Sea

Shortly after posting the last blog, the weather changed dramatically. A line of squalls ushered in a new weather pattern that features clouds, rain and lightening; lots and lots of lightening. It also killed the wind. So unless we are caught in the middle of a squall with winds gusting to 25 knots, we are motoring. Since the change in weather we've had the following conversation at least 6 times:

"What happened to the EBL I had on that ship."
"I moved it to track the squall."
"A squall isn't going to run us down."
"No, but the lightening could fry our systems."

Sten is more concerned with tracking the ships than the lightening, which is rational. You can track and predict the movements of ships and pretty much guarantee that you aren't going to get run down. I'm more concerned with avoiding the center of squalls, as that is where the lightening seems to be concentrated. But the squalls move and change shape more erratically than ships, so they are harder to track. If we take a direct hit of lightening, the blast could not only fry our electronic navigation systems, which would be problematic, but it could also destroy our laptops and then I wouldn't be able to finish watching the pirated Grey's Anatomy DVD's I bought in Kuta, and that, my friends, would be a serious problem.

Restitching the dodger -
Guess we should have gone with the Gortex thread

This morning found us 200 miles from Singapore, which means that we've only managed to cover 800 miles over 6 days. This has to be our slowest passage to date. We've had very little wind so we've had to motor for 80 of the past 144 hours. Hopefully this will be the most motor intensive leg of our whole circumnavigation. Sten changed the oil just before we left Bali (one of his least favorite boat jobs; it is a fairly slow and messy process) and he'll have to do it again when we reach Singapore. Usually we can go several months between oil changes, rather than just two weeks.

We've been motoring slowly, making an approximate boat speed of 5 knots through the water, in an effort to conserve fuel and maximize our range under motor. Sten has even made the sacrifice of not setting out his trolling lines in an effort to reduce our drag through the water and make the fuel last.

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