Crossing the Indian Ocean - Mauritius to Durban Days 9 & 10

durban days 9-10  

Day 9 Miles to go:   821 nm

Midst all my griping about weather and currents the past few days, a curious thing happened. As I was was sitting in the cockpit contemplating major topics like life and what we were going to have for dinner tonight, I spotted a furry moth flying over the solar panels and fluttering his way directly towards me. Wherever could he have flown in from? We're well over a hundred miles away from the closest land.

He whizzed by my nose, flew around my head once and then dove below, under the closed cockpit slider. He was very deliberate in his actions, as if he knew exactly where he was going and had a mission. This seemed all too much like Lassie communicating that Timmy had fallen in the well. I was compelled to follow.

It took awhile to find him. He had that grey/brown camouflage coloring going for him and the lighting below was none too bright. As if to say "Here I am!", he fluttered up again and lighted on the white mast. David was snoozing peacefully and didn't look to be in any distress; he certainly hadn't fallen down the well. I scooped up our winged visitor ... felt him wriggling in my hand ... and let him go outside with an au revoir, off you go.

No dice. He was back in a second, much like our stubborn booby hitchhiker of a few weeks ago. He determinedly darted below. I followed, but couldn't find him. I can only conclude he's tired and needs a rest or has heard I've got a couple of woolen sweaters below, prime for munching. Obviously, the passage is getting to me, huh?  ;-)

The going is slow under continued grey skies. We are still caught in the clutches of the adverse current and our choices are to go west or south to evade it. To the north about 100 miles is Madagascar and, of course, east is where we've come from. So far we've obviously not been successful in breaking its grip on us. Nine  days at sea and we're not quite half way there, but close enough to have Half Way Alfredo for dinner. The grey skies have greatly reduced our solar power intake and we've had to crank on the engine an extra hour or two each day.

About 0230 on my watch, I heard a light flutter and saw a shadowy wisp of wings fly over the starboard rail. The moth gave up on a free ride aboard Nine of Cups ...  he could fly much faster than we were sailing.

Day 10 Miles to go:  712 nm

Change of watch at 2100. I snuggled down in the sea berth. It's been chilly on night watch and the blankets were still warm from David's nap. David was letting out a bit more jib. I could hear the furling line go out and then the winch, trimming it up ... and then a lot of fluttering and luffing ... much more than expected. The flashlight beam bounced around on deck. My "what's going on?" question brought an unexpected response. "The jib halyard has parted!"

I turned on the spreader lights to get a better look and there dangling in the wind was part of the jib halyard, all frayed and parted. We managed to furl the jib. David let out the staysail and I went back to sleep. Repairs are always best kept till the morning light, if possible. Something to noodle about all night long.

The light winds continued till there was barely any wind at all. Not good for sailing, but good for taking down the jib and replacing the parted halyard with a spare one. I woke up groggy; David was ready to tackle the repair. The jib came down easily in a great mass on the foredeck with David's guidance. He cut off the old halyard and attached the spare using a halyard hitch (Clifford Ashley's Book of Knots comes to the rescue again!). We were set to go. Well, not quite.

David had noticed some chafe on the starboard sheet at the clew. It made sense to take care of it now. He shortened the sheet by a foot, whipped it and reattached it to the jib. Now, we were ready to go. Well, not quite.

I was at the bow, ready to guide the jib up the furler and noticed the collar on the furler foil was loose. David grabbed his tools, went forward and tightened it up. Good to go. Well, not quite.

Back in position at the bow, I noticed the orientation of the furler looked odd. Now what? David came forward, gathered more tools and set to work again. He discovered the furler cage had somehow worked loose and he wasn't sure what caused the misalignment, but he fixed what needed fixing. NOW ... We were ready to hoist the jib get underway again. Really!

We are just entering the Mozambique Channel. Pretty much out of the cyclone zone, but still at risk for South Africa's notorious Wild Coast "south-busters".