A long downwind passage

Trinidad to Aruba, August 26th to 29th, 2012

At 12:30 am, On Delay slipped away from the dock at Power Boats boatyard where she’d been for two weeks.

While Gayle and I slept, Tony and Pete chivalrously motored and sailed us until dawn. At 6 am, we started our regular watch schedule (6 hour watches during the day and 4 hour watches at night; two people per watch).

This was our first downwind passage – it’s a more comfortable point of sail than upwind; but you need to guard against accidental jibes. The wind was right behind us. Pete rigged up preventers with fuses.

To keep things interesting, Tony added a surprise emergency to each day of the watch list.

Here is the watch list; under the yellow tabs are surprise emergencies.

One day, we pretended there was a fire in the starboard engine and we were going to abandon ship. Another day, we considered what we would do if we hit a submerged container.

One morning, we threw Bob overboard for a man-over-board drill.

This is Bob: a milk bottle and a sail tie.

This didn’t go so well. We did recover Bob, though I lost sight of him more than once. [I learned that (a) The MOM button on the GPS is useful. (b) Even if you can swim, it is good to wear a life jacket because it is big and orange and has a whistle and a light. Bob would have been easier to spot in a life jacket.] Unfortunately, in heaving-to, we got a big rip in the gennaker (big head sail).

Such a shame about the gennaker; it was the right sail for going downwind. After it ripped, we switched to butterfly with the jib and the main, which was okay as long as we were going DDW (dead down wind).

Butterflied sails.

Other bad things happened on that passage:

  • In an accidental jibe, the preventer snapped off and the block smashed one of our (new) solar panels.
  • A line around the propellor in the middle of the night. Tony went in with scuba gear to unwrap it.

    An unflattering photo of Tony about to go over the side at 1 am to remove a line from a prop.

  • The generator stopped working. (We need the generator to use the watermaker. We had enough water for the trip, but I was more mindful of conserving.)

    First task after dropping anchor: fix the generator. Here is Tony in the generator compartment, replacing the impellor. This is the second impellor since we got the boat (the original installers made a careless mistake; now corrected by Pete and Tony).

However, we all arrived safely in lovely Aruba (One happy island). We did 500 miles in 80 hours. Not too shabby.

6 thoughts on “A long downwind passage

  1. WHEW!!! Had me REALLY glued to every word. Sorry for all the repairs and rips! Stay safe. Good job, you four!!

  2. Now I really get your comment about how it was nice to sleep through the night once you got to Aruba.
    Seems to me you do not need to invent emergencies; they somehow appear …!

  3. Dear Jane, Gayle, Pete and Tony,
    Glad to hear you made it safely to Aruba. You guys give me a feeling of confidence. with the way you have handled all the challenges. Were you ever scared?
    All the best for smooth sailing,
    With lots of love,

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