Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 2- Moni takes a hit

Time: 2200 Zulu (noon Hawaii time)
Position: 00-deg 15-min N 159-deg 17-min W
Wind: ESE 11 Seas: E 4-5-ft
Avg. Course: 181 T
Avg. Speed: 4.4-knots
Rig: 80% and double reefed mains'l
24-hr distance traveled: 106-nm

Day 2s excitement started right away, with a squall at quarter after the noon point requiring us to pull down the mains'l, but before the hour passed, we raised it again to the 3rd reef. This sequence repeated itself once more before settling into light winds in time for our checkin with Quixotic followed by the PacSea Net report. Sunset with saffron rice, refried bean tostadas and Chris finally hit the bunk. Shawn wasn't quite ready with all of her gear, but decided to head up on deck for a quick horizon scan. She was rewarded by hearing a loud metallic BANG. Images of s/v Privateers headstay flashed through her mind but before they congealed she noted Moni's blade hanging askew. Barely settled yet, Chris leapt out of the bunk and was asking if a fish hit the windvane before he even emerged from the companionway. No time to discuss, Tao had fallen off and her jib was down, meaning near to jibing- both of us grabbed the tiller at the same moment and pushed it hard over, and the preventer (named as such for its purpose of preventing an unexpected jibe) did it's job.

Shawn took over hand steering and Chris was immediately back to Moni with Shawn's headlamp as the day's crupuscular light was nearly gone. "Hand steering?! No thanks! Christmas Island is only 100-nm upwind of us," was on Shawn's mind. Chris verbally diagnosed the problem as the water paddle blade had been hit, and knocked such that it was no longer linked to the windvane. After dousing the main to slow our speed, upon closer inspection, the primary gear assembly that connects the water paddle to the wind vane actuator had become unmeshed. Chris had to unscrew the actuator shaft from the top most gear assembly to flip it around because it had become inverted when jammed hard in that direction, and he then remeshed the gears. Luckily the strong cast bronze that our older Monitor is made out of did not break, nor any of the surrounding tubing parts, with impact. But what was the impact? Tao did not hit anything. We can only surmise that a large fish had seen the shiny blade "swimming" through the water and decided to test it for food. Moni 0, fish 0; both likely sustained injuries. An hour of hand steering later, after digging out, reading, and following the Monitor windvane instructions about how to correctly remesh the gears, Chris had Moni, a bit lopsided, but steering again. A slow night of sailing ensued with just the 80%.

After another squally wet graveyard watch, the next morning dawned with dolphins playing around our bow. Once Shawn was on deck and breakfast consumed, Chris went about the task of realigning Moni. Once again Chris unscrewed the actuator locknut and this time, he adjusted the actuator shaft length so the water paddle was aligned, evenly turning at the limits of the vanes swing. After reattaching Moni to the tiller, he steered true without a peep. Either it has been working itself out of alignment for a while or it sustained the offset from a large blow. No tubing has been bent and still to check once we reach port, is the lower shaft alignment and assembly. There are some scratches on the blade, but no obvious teeth marks. What happened shall remain a mystery, but we are very grateful that Moni is back in service.

The weather here is constantly changing. It is difficult to imagine a hulking squall being able to sneak up on someone visually observing the surroundings every 15-minutes, if not more frequently. But somehow one moment a cloud mass can appear innocuous and the next menacing, howling winds and spitting rain. The morning sun kept the squalls momentarily at bay and at the noon point we were a mere 15-nm from the Earth's Equator! A party is in the works as long as the weather stays benign.


  1. Oh my! Here's to the equator . . . . and on southward!

    Hugs and Purrs,
    Mum and Grizzly

  2. Glad that Moni was fixable and hope that the rest of the trip is not very exciting!

  3. This is what Herman Melville would have sounded like if he was a mechanical engineer. ;-)