Day 10, St Martin to the Azores

1600Z 06JUN23, Day 10, St Martin to the Azores. About three hours ago we hit the halfway mark on the rhumb line path. Yay halfway! We are creeping along, flying the kite in 10kts of wind, making 3-4kts straight to the Azores. It's not fast but it is in the right direction.

Current Position: 30 57N / 048 29W
24 hour progress: 109nm, 4.5kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 1,226nm, approximately 1080nm to the Azores.
At the halfway point we had sailed 1,215nm in just under 10 days (9.875 days, 5.1kts avg SOG). Let's see if we do the second half more direct and faster!

Yesterday was a pleasant day as the sun was out, the seas calmed and we had enough wind to move well. This all added up to a chance to do boat projects.

We reefed the main and Jon started working on a batten issue that we noticed on this passage. The main sail has 5 battens to help give the sail a good camber and shape. Each batten has a receptacle that goes on the track for the sail to raise up the mast. Well 3 of our 5 battens are getting worn, splintering and now have a strange alignment with their receptacles and the mast.

After an email consult with our friends on Paikea (also on this passage and racing us down after our week head start) to discuss thoughts and possible solutions, Jon began work to MacGuyver up a repair. This consisted of pulling out random bits of stuff that we collect for these impromptu repairs at sea. Jon and Daxton had found a piece of pvc pipe / conduit that was a small size out on a walk one day that they decided might someday be useful. So when digging in our trunk to see what options we had, Jon pulled out wood dowels that are around the size of the fiberglass battens (rod shaped in our sail) and also saw this conduit and pulled that out as well. Today was the day these bits would be useful!

The bottom 2 battens are now too short - likely they always were a bit short and their pockets have probably also stretched. So the repair process ended up being building a lengthening piece out of the conduit and a plug with the dowel. The conduit was used as a joint to join the batten and the plug. All of that was shrink wrapped and then heavily taped together. When that was added Jon swapped the batten end for end and used the undamaged end of the batten in the receptacle at the mast.

The first batten took quite awhile to figure out what the best band-aid fix would be and work out the assembly sizing. There was a lengthy batten protruding across the cockpit and over the water at varying angles with the project end in the cockpit or pulled into the pilot house. There were also occasional rain showers to avoid and that impacted the work. Once we had a fix for the first batten we reefed down to get to the next problem batten and implemented the same fix. That one went fast. We then put the main back up to the 1st reef and it was dinner time—duck breasts and green beans all around.

Daxton reefed the main to the 2nd reef on his watch as there were some very dark storm clouds before sunset. The reef slowed us down enough for the cell to pass ahead and then he shook it back out. We left 1 reef in for the night.

Winds were light over night and the moon was bright. We saw some great bioluminescence in the water before the moonrise. The winds and seas calmed and our speeds began to slow as the night went on. We sailed a reach and adjusted course closer to the wind to keep Nike (our autopilot) happy and sailing without needing to hand steer.

After sunrise the main was hoisted back to full and Jon discovered an issue with the genoa furler. The three pin screws that secure the drum to the foil had fallen out and the foil had slid a few inches down the forestay. Lucky for us 2 of the rather unique screws were recovered from the bow spirit and we had bought extras when this problem occurred early on with the furler. So the morning project was getting the furler fixed. We got that sorted and then decided to put up the asymmetric spinnaker as winds were 8-10kts and sailing is better than motoring—plus sailing under the colorful kite always feels cheerful.

After launching the chute, adjusting point of sail and looking at our course, we decided maybe we launched the kite on the wrong side. We reviewed the weather and decided a starboard tack was probably better for the day. So we gybed Zephyros and dropped the main to the 4th reef so that we could go deep downwind with the kite in clear air. Initially we were heading east but the winds moved as Megan predicted to get us back to rhumb line.

By this point we had some breakfast and watched the miles slowly click down to our halfway point. We blasted music and enjoyed some treats that were stashed away for the occasion. A little halfway there party was enjoyed by all!

After that, the calm conditions and the mainsail being lowered to the 4th reef gave Jon the chance to further drop the main to look at the rest of the battens. The upper wearing batten had less issues than the lower two, so he worked on taping and building the batten back up at the receptacle. He didn't need to build a lengthening piece for that one or swap it end for end.

Boat repairs and chores have kept the crew busy for day 10. Maybe there will be some extra rest on day 11. We shall see.

There have been a few more ships on the AIS and one that passed us over night around 7nm away. It was a clear night and easy to see his lights.

The fishing line is back in; still no fish. We just don't seem to be lucky this passage much to Daxton's dismay. While the days are still quite warm and the winds are light the number of Portuguese Man o' War are increasing and the water temperature is dropping so no one is begging to stop for a swim. The occasional petrel still flies by. There has been more random flotsam and jetsam - a bucket, a hard hat, a cup, a bottle. There is also still some sargassum around.

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