Mar 31 - Repairs have worked

Pos: N03deg28min / W044deg09min. We ran the engine earlier and the FW pump pulley turns fine. Unfortunately, a slight metallic sound can be faintly heard, no doubt the new key in a very doubtful keyway holding it in for the present. Because of this, we've decided to go directly to Chaguaramas to affect proper R/R. The weather forecast looks favorable; brisk NE winds the entire way. Yesterday's noon to noon run was 164 mi, so we're making good time.

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Mar 30 - We'll have to wait a bit longer

Pos: N02deg26min / W041deg50min. It was a boisterous day sailing, winds 18-20 for most of it. Our speed has been in the 6's-7's, so today wasn't conducive to starting the motor. Coolant is in the system and all the hose clamps have been checked; it's now up to the small key in the keyway to see if the entire repair holds.

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Mar 29 - What's that noise?

Pos: N01deg23min / W039deg37min. For the last 3-4 days we kept hearing a metallic sound when running the engine and routine cursory checks didn't prove helpful. Strange metallic sounds and engines - not a good thing....This morning, I dove into the engine room and discovered that the FW pump pulley housing had come loose and was just spinning around with the belt. Hmmm. The pulley nut was jammed on the shaft of the pump, so dismantling the entire assembly was necessary. Of course, that meant all the coolant was lost as hoses had to be removed, but I finally got the pump off by late morning. Matt and I were able to remove the shaft nut, but the pulley housing had an elongated hole in the stainless set ring, no doubt from not discovering and fixing the problem early on. There was no key in the keyway groove, and I eventually found it, completely by chance, with a magnet sweeping the bilge while looking for one of the pump housing nuts that had dropped there. Fun and games. The key was elongated and had apparently spun out of its groove; a new one was needed. We carry bronze square stock aboard, so cutting it down to size and shaping wasn't all that difficult. The pump has been remounted, but I'm waiting until tomorrow to put the final shaping to the key and housing ring. Fortunately the wind has cooperated today, and we've had NE 12-16, with gusts to 18, all day. The pole was dropped earlier, and we have a double reefed main, staysail, and about two thirds of the Yankee out, and are going along smoothly at 5.4-6.4 knots; the wind is about 60-80 degrees off the bow, not too uncomfortable. Well, that's the report for today. Pump repairs and coolant replacement continue tomorrow, along with, hopefully, a happy Perkins.

Mar 28 - WE'RE BACK IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE!!

At 1141 this morning, we crossed the equator at longitude W037deg14.214min. The weather cooperated, we had a proper crossing ceremony giving thanks to King Neptune and his dominions, and enjoyed a nice snack. Sue figured this was our sixth equator crossing! Of note, Matt's been with us for three of them! We'll maintain this same heading (about 305-310 deg T) for another 1-2 days before making a more northwest turn towards either Devil's Island in French Guyana or possibly go straight to Trinidad...we'll decide soon. A special day; it's good to be back, and AWA. Tech note: for new readers of our blog, if you press "Where we are," located at the upper, left portion of the home page near "Our pictures," a red button will mark our route (taken from the "Position reports" I submit) over whatever time period you choose in the option box. Enjoy!

Mar 25 - Enroute

Pos: S03deg24min / W032deg53min. We departed FdN this morning, very glad to get away from the rolly anchorage. Overall, I wouldn't rate this stop as a "must-see" destination. It's very expensive; there's a daily fee for the boat to be anchored in the National Park, as well as a daily fee for each crew member on top of that. Further, meals ashore are $15-20++, lunch or dinner. Beer or drinks are likewise expensive. Provisioning is OK, and diesel is available for about $6 USD/gallon. Rental cars are all over the place. They're dune buggy type things, and go for about $50 USD/day, although I suspect a bit of searching would turn up a less expensive cost. The allegedly slow internet was completely down while we were here, so no comments there. A 40+ knot squall came thru the other night. It was complete white-out conditions, and the size of the waves was impressive. They knocked the large, steel marker beacon of the small harbor entrance off it's mooring chains, which then capsized upside down! The anchorage is very rolly to begin with; that night it was just ugly. At this time, we're enroute to Isle du Salud, just across from Devil's Island, in French Guyana. This will be about a 1400 mi passage, as we're going a few hundred miles north of our rhumb line to try to get thru the ITCZ (inter-tropical convergence zone) on a more direct angle across it, rather than along its axis, before turning towards IdS. We're hoping to avoid at least some of the heavier squalls and thunderstorms the ITCZ a few degrees north and south of the equator latitude usually brings; we'll see how it all works out. From the latest weather forecasts, it appears we have about another 36 hours of motoring before the wind fills in. AWA.

Mar 21 - Safe arrival Fernando de Noronha

Pos: S03deg50.01min / W032deg24.49min. We anchored in Santa Antonia Bay just after daybreak. Using just s scrap of jib, we rolled down our line, trying to keep our speed between 3-4 knots so as to arrive after dawn. This entire 1100 mi leg was a mixed bag. We certainly had some good sailing, but also had light air, fickle wind and a lot of rolling and slatting of sails. It's hard to get Infini moving in 4-6 knots of wind behind us, but she did surprisingly well. We did motor for a bit in those times with absolutely no wind, when my patience ebbed and I ignored "THE LOOK" that the Admiral gives me any time I suggest using the iron genoa. I believe her quote is we're a sailboat..." Yes, I know, but sitting there doing less than 2 knots, having to hand steer because the autopilot won't steer in anything less than 2.3 knots of boat speed...well, it ain't gonna happen. This is why we carry petrochemical in our fuel tanks. At any rate, in the "man vs fish" category, we had 2 keepers (mahi-mahi), and returned 3 smaller fish (mahi-mahi and yellow tail tuna). In the "to be repaired" category, we sustained 3 broken sail slides due to severe slatting, along with 1 possible broken batten, but I can't really tell about that yet. We've already planned for the main and Yankee to go off to the sailmaker for routine maintenance and repair when we get to Trinidad. In the SSB email category, hooking up to Sailmail was almost impossible, but I did manage to do so a few times. Our Winlink connection seems much more stable, and I've been able to connect every day or so. Overall, everyone's fine and glad to be here. Although just anchored, we can tell the anchorage here will be extremely rolly, but it'll still be a nice change for a bit. We haven't decided how long we're staying here; more later.

Mar 17 - Happy St Patrick's Day!

Pos: S05deg57.38min / W026deg11.42min. It's been a beautiful day sailing today. The wind got a bit brisk; we saw 30 knots, but it was dead behind us, so we ran with the full main and no headsail. Winds are forecast to moderate over the next few days...we'll see. In a previous blog entry, I mentioned "cotter checks". Today, routine surveillance, again, paid dividends as we found a crack in our starboard aft, lower turnbuckle, It's not all the way thru the turnbuckle, but with crevice corrosion, you never know. I've rigged up an extra SS wire strop and hitch to support the stay anyway; tomorrow I'll dig out the spare turnbuckle, but hope to be able to wait until we're at anchor in 3-4 days before replacing it. We've been enjoying lots of fresh fish, prepared pan-fried and poke. The humidity and heat are definitely rising; we're down to swimming suits and T shirts most all of the time. AWA.

Mar 16 - We're half-way there

Pos: S06deg16min / W023deg54min. Today marked our half way point to Fernando de Noronha. Sailing has been fine, usually in the 5-7 knot range. Matt landed a 4' mahi-mahi this afternoon; our freezer's filling up. AWA.