April 6

Last night we made good progress and Kate had the watch from 00:00 to 05:00 letting me sleep an hour longer then planned. The boat continued on its course of appx. 210M at 6-7k under increasingly lumpy seas and steady winds around 10-13k. By 5:30am the wind has moderated to about 10k. We are making about 5k over the ground and the ride is a bit less comfortable as we have our stern quarter to the swells which are still large and our speed is diminished.

By 6am the wind seems to have veered around to 15M - could this be the edge of the NE trades? I think we're still too far North. We'll see as time wears. But right now the wind vane has us turned to about 255M - a bit West and not enough South. This is fine until sunrise. Then we will hoist the spinnaker again and take a more downwind tack.

We hoisted the spinnaker at 7am and took it down at 7:45. We could not lay the heading we wanted even with the chute, so we gybed to the South and are now motor sailing at 5.5k in about 5k wind. The wind does seem to have shifted a bit. First to the North then a bit to the NE and now back to N. We are resting and charging batteries and will decide what to do in an hour, perhaps the wind will have settled down or built in from a definite direction by then.

By 9:30am we had shut down the motor and sailed WSW on about 12k wind on a heading of about 250M - the furthest South we could go without the spinnaker (which allows us to head a bit more downwind, but still not dead downwind). We were making about 7.5k over ground so we felt the spinnaker would be excessive. As the day wore on the wind shifted about between 340 and 25M making it hard to point South at times but providing an excellent reach at others.

At 6:30pm local time (00:30UT) we are making about 7-7.5k over ground on a heading of 240M in about 12-15k out of the North. The swells are from the NW at about 6 feet and wind waves are building to 6-8 feet.

At about 9:30pm the windvane broke. Specifically, the "breakaway" tube between the water paddle and the hinge broke. Fortunately the line attached to the paddle designed to prevent you from losing the paddle in a case like this actually worked (since I had tied the end off to the stern rail) and I was able to pull in the paddle and examine the breakaway tube. The holes through which the bolt passes which secures it to the hinge on the Monitor were ripped open. Most likely the bolt was loose and excessive play allowed it to work its way until the steel ripped at the stress points.

Have been running on autopilot all night as a consequence, although in fact on this point of sail the windvane would probably not have worked anyway - it works best going up-wind or on a reach and works worst going downwind as we are now. For more information about windvane steering gear and the Monitor specifically see their web page at www.selfsteer.com.

Although we have a spare breakaway tube there are 3 problems related to repairing the vane gear. First, I have to FIND the spare breakaway tube (I last saw it in August when we installed it in Port Townsend). Second, if I do find it, it is too long (during installation we had the breakaway tube cut 4" shorter but not the spare). I have a hacksaw and it certainly can be done, then I need to drill new holes for the bolt. Third, and this is the biggie, I have to first remove the hinge assembly (to which the paddle and tube are attached) and then re-install the hinge with the new tube and paddle attached.

This is a problem because the hinge attachment is at water level hanging off the back of the boat. Obviously anyone attempting this must also therefore be at water level hanging off the back of the boat. Certainly this will not be feasible in 8' swells. Meanwhile I will try to find the spare tube and also consider if I might shorten the old one an inch and just drill new holes. This seems feasible to me but still leaves problem number three to deal with.