The Blue View: What broke on the Atlantic?

Our South Atlantic crossing is officially over, and it's time for me to go back through all the passage log sheets and compile the list of everything that broke on this passage. We make an entry once an hour on our passages, logging our current position, speed, course and sea and weather conditions. We also use our log sheets to note any unusual occurrences like lunar eclipses, green flashes or Flying Dutchman sightings. What constitutes an 'unusual occurrence' is somewhat subjective and arbitrary, however. It often depends on how long we've been at sea - what seems ordinary at the beginning of a long passage sometimes seems pretty remarkable 30 days later. The initial sheets have entries like “Spotted several southern right whales at 0930”, while the latter sheets have things like “Saw an anvil shaped cloud” or “Thought I saw a dolphin at 1015, but it was just a stick”. We also use the log sheets to keep track of problems and breakages that occur. If I fix a problem, it still gets logged and then checked off, so that I can keep track of recurring problems (and also so I can feel like I did something en route). log sheet for nine of cups

When we complete a passage, I use the log sheets to compile part of the 'to-do' list, then go back to the prior 'to-do' lists and add anything that wasn't completed previously. Any mission critical items – things that must be completed before we sail away again - are highlighted. If we are going to be in a place for a few weeks, I prioritize the remaining items on the list and make my best guess as to the time required for each. (Then I double the time estimates, which Marcie doubles once again, making them fairly close to reality), and use these as the basis for negotiating boat chore time versus time for those frivolous things Marcie likes to do, like seeing the local sights.

to do list on nine of cups

This passage, once we got away from the stormy Cape Town weather, was quite benign, and the list of things that broke isn't too bad. The biggest item was the whisker pole, which broke early on. If you've followed the Blue Views over the years, you may remember that this is the third time it has broken – twice before during the Indian Ocean crossing. Each time, it was the telescoping inner pole that broke, and each time I cut it off a little shorter to make it functional again. It's now about half of its original length ( we now refer to it as 'stubby'), but as long as we partially reef the headsail, it is still usable. It will have to wait until we are back in the U.S. to either refurb or replace it. Beyond that, there are a couple of corroded connectors to replace, there's a small issue with the HF antenna and a loose wire that needs to be secured. All in all, a good passage.

broken whisker pole on nine of cups

That's not to say there aren't a great many things to do. The varnish is way overdue for attention, the stainless all needs polishing, the winches and blocks need cleaning and lubing after all that Namibia dust … the list for routine maintenance is quite long. In addition, now that we are in the steamy tropics again, we need to dig out and mount a few more fans, find our hatch screens and stow all our cold weather gear, clothes and blankets.

But we are in French Guiana, another exotic place, and quite honestly, I can't think of a better place to make some repairs.