Day 3, Passage to Panama

1915Z 04APR19, Day 3, USVI to Panama Passage. The last 24 hours have been largely the same wind and weather as the previous 24. We did decide to launch an experiment to see if we could sail deeper. In the late afternoon yesterday, we started discussing options to improve our course. Gybing will have us make way north which is not the desired direction so we discussed ways we might sail more directly downwind on the desired course without loosing too much speed. We tried reefing the main but the headsail luffed as we went deeper. We then tried pole-ing out the jib. We do not have a really quick and easy setup for using the pole, nor much experience using it for a sail other than a traditional spinnaker. So the effort was clunky at best with both of us wobbling about on the foredeck and taking a long time to get everything set up properly. Then we watched and looked the setup over. We had slowed which made the boat roll a bit more and made things less comfortable. We didn't like the look of how we had the jib sheet run through the end of the pole - seemed like a line intent to chafe through, probably at an inopportune time, during the night. Things that work well when coastal sailing can't always stand up to the endless load/unload cycles of open ocean sailing. As all this was going on the sun was getting low in the sky. We tried to see if taking reefs back out of the main would help bring our speed back up. It did and it didn't. Then the sail-bag fell down! We have a lazy bag that helps to catch the mainsail when it is lowered and keeps it contained on the boom in one spot. The lazy bag is held up by lazy jacks that are attached up the rig on the mast. Well the line chafed through at a ring and the starboard side came down. It really is not a big deal, does not affect our sailing and can be fixed back in port pretty easily. However, it happened in the middle of everything else and added to the sense of defeated-ness. At this point we decided to call the whole experiment, regroup in the morning and just gybe if / when we needed to. We successfully got everything cleaned up and back to how we had been sailing before the experiment. We even secured the flopping half of the sail bag before darkness set in. The only change we kept was a single reef in the main.

Current Position: 14 06N 070 46W
24 hour progress: 144nm, 6.0kts avg SOG, 430nm completed, approximately 620nm to go, current weather is warm and sunny with scattered clouds. Wind has been a bit more up and down and shifts directions, but we generally are continuing on a broad reach with around 20kts +/-5kts true wind. We have one reef in the main and one reef in the main jib, making a course of 245-255T. The winds have shifted enough to improve our course significantly! Perhaps it is poetic irony or the gods laughing at us that after our failed attempts yesterday to sail deeper the wind simply shifted enough that the previous sail configuration is now working significantly better. Whatever it is we will take it!

The crew continues to do well. The boys completed school work early and enjoyed an early afternoon movie with Dad. The refrigerator is working much better this passage than the Atlantic crossing, thanks to Jon's adding another two filters to the seawater circulation line. We aren't making as much power as we would like because our hydro generator keeps getting fouled with sargassum weed. Otherwise, things remain slow and the seas comfortable enough. The cats are getting plenty of sleep.

Cribbage Tally: Jon-3, Megan-1

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