||6th line hexagram #39Do not resist difficulties or advance against them. By retreating and observing, you learn an important lesson. Then moving forward becomes easy.
We had a later start than I planned on, but it was no big deal. I wanted to have all the battery run things charged up, especially my iPad since it was a big part of my navigation package. However the power strip plug was pulled out, so I waited until things were topped off. We had a visit from our new friends, who we had breakfast with, they are from Las Vegas. They offered to help with anything. However we were in good shape. Also in line was a visit over to my Homie’s from Philly’s boat for some last minute counsel. After that we got everything set to go. Our Las Vegas friends from the yacht, S/V intmasea, came back to see us off, they ended up riding with us over to the fuel dock and gave us a send off from there. We waved to a few others as we motored out of the harbor and we were off.
Once out on the bay, the wind was decent I cut the engine after a while and sailed. The wind was not at the best angle but I made do and just tacked as needed to get out of the Bay. After a while of that I thought it was best to use the motor again to make some headway through the pass of the island and the mainland, which had extended rocks out into the water. The motor was engaged so I could make it through this area while it was still light enough to see. As it was we just made it before dark.
Now at this point the wind, died! So I had the choice of continueing to motor and get further out or drift where we were. If we were making another land fall I could have keep motoring. However we were not. We had limited fuel to get us across the ICZ area known for doldrums ( light to no winds) and then once in close to the Marquesas into the harbor. I thought it was prudent to drift for the night and hope for the wind spirit to bless us in the morning again.
For the rest of the night we sat and drifted about .5 knots. A few times I got paranoid and used the motor to move further way from the lee shore rockface, which seemed to be inching toward us. Another time to move away from some ship lights that were approaching. I did this for the full night, letting LZ sleep. I was pleased that the dodger was helpful in blocking some of the chill of the night and also that it was warmer weather than our trip down from Alameda.
The next day after noting we had only moved slightly from our spot at the edge of the open sea and there was still no wind, again I engaged the motor at a low speed just to perhaps find some wind. This I did for about an hour, then a small bit of wind came up, we crept along at about 1-1.5 knts. Sometimes less, for most of the day. The day was overcast and not a pleasant day for sailing. I also noticed a noise a tapping coming from one of the backstays. Investing I found the main-sail battens had come loose from the flapping all night of the sail and were banging on the backstay. I corrected that. Then noticed that the sail being full up with no wind also cause the loose battens to rub against the topping lift this cause some chaffing (item 1). After some consideration I decided it was not a big enough issue to require turning back. I could use the extra halyard to support the main if I needed and there was not that much strain on the topping lift, none when the sail was up. I did decided to keep just one reef in the sail from that point on, just to make sure not more rubbing would occur. I was able to get decent speed with a fair wind even with the sail reefed, which is where I generally keep it. It was just because the wind was so light I had it out full. Also my jib had plenty of room to roll out to about 110-115 to help with some push. So onward we went. The chaffing I dismissed since it did not look to bad.
One of the things we checked when leaving was my handheld SSB receiver. My friend from Philly was going to give me weather updates as we sailed to help with the journey. He did a test as we where leaving the bay, however it did not work, I could hear him on the VHF but not on the SSB. He said he would try again that morning. Again another failure (item 2), in addition to that I could barely get his VHS signal. This was not good, but, it was not a big deal, as the plan was a last minute thing anyway. I was however able to clearly hear broadcasts from s/v Intamasea. This proved helpful. I was able to get some updates about wind, and where there was some that day and part of the next. The problem was, it was not around me, I would have to travel further out west to find it. I was about at 116 degrees, the wind started at 117 degrees. There was also heavy winds coming from the north the following day and for several days ( item 3), reported 25 and higher knots, which could give us a push. However we had to get there to that area. On the VHF there was reports of gale wind in the north also, which would be moving south. Not coming to our area but, the effects of that would be those 25 and higher winds. I had seen that before leaving and planned to be south of them and ride just on the eastern edge of the increasing wind. In our current position there was only calm.
We crept along, and finally just drifted. I tried for the rest of the day to catch some wind and stay heading in the right direction. Once in a while some wind would come, as soon as sails were adjusted to ride it, it would change direction, this went on for the rest of the day (item 4).
During one of the times the wind was playing with us two other things came up. LZ had wanted to use the salt water faucet
I had checked it when I installed it but not since then. LZ had wanted to check it, but not in the marina, we never made the time to go out on the bay to check. So I thinking it was ok, and just opened the sea valve for use. I pumped it a few times, it worked. A short while later LZ says, the pump is leaking. Salt water leaking in the boat demands immediate attention. I checked, it was leaking, so I turned off the sea cock, again. Another system failure (item 5). Oh well, not a major draw back. We drifted on.
Next thing, I notice is a large tanker off a ways from us, and thought hmmmmmm, how come my new AIS radio did not warn me. I investigated, and reset everything. Including re-reading the manual. As it turns out I mis-read things and a GPS hook up is not an option, it is needed. No wonder I, with our little floating cork was not getting any signals. I thought it was just there had been no boats in the area when I did the install and checks. Doh!! Yet another system down ( item 6). I figured, oh well, it was something I just got at the last-minute anyway and had not originally planned on having it, my ship plan is for a watch anyway, every 15 to 20 min a look around. Unlike Nishi-san who just sets his AIS and goes to sleep, I prefer a lookout, there are things out there that have no AIS! Like I have no radar….we drifted on as the wind played hide and seek.
That evening I tied the wheel in place as there was no forward movement to use the autopilot, which I thought was acting up anyway. The couple of times it was used, it cut off, while under power ( item 7). This was not a good thing. However since I had rigged up a tiller tending rope system, which was working. I figured I would keep going, only using the auto pilot for short times and using the tying system as much as possible, with sail adjustments…and so we drifted through the night.
I mentioned to LZ that if there was no wind tomorrow, we should consider going back and rethinking things. We could not afford the gas to keep moving around looking for wind and motoring to stay offshore enough to not end up on the rocks ( item 8), like a Margaritta…she was not pleased.
I slept some that night and put LZ on a watch. She bundled up and did a late shift. I was glad I installed the LED anchoring light, that along with the two solar lights made sitting in the dark of night not so bad. When it was my turn on watch I put cushions on the cockpit floor and sat there, napping on and off, getting up and down checking for objects we did not want to encounter.
Early in the morning just at dawn I picked up some wind. We moved some. I moved the sails in and out trying to find a good position. Then I remembered Captain Mary adjusting the sail sliders when I noticed the jib shape seem not effective. Too much air was being bled off the top. I adjusted the slider and the ZenCat leaped forward. We went up to 4-5 knots. I was joyful. I had been thinking this is a good time to learn about the ZenCat more intimately what she liked and did not. This was a big plus. Now with some wind and a better trimmed sail we went onward. Even though it was yet another very overcast day, which made me feel uneasy, I felt I was sailing in sunshine, since we were now moving.
I heard from my friend on s/v Intamasea about wind conditions, but he could not hear me reply. Anyway I sailed on to the wind location. As I crossed into the zone of 117 degrees w. the wind held steady, and the waves increased. This was good and this was bad. The wind was now on our nose and the waves increased and were sharp. I changed my angle of approach as not to just drop off the waves and bury the bow, which could have been a big problem. Since I was already concerned about being over weight and the bow being heavier than before. Therefore I took extra caution on my wave approach. We sailed on. The wave height increased and I increased my angle ( item 9). A few times I bore off too much and had an unpleasant thought of being broadsided by a surprisingly large wave. The ZenCat rode it out with not problem. In the mean time lessons and thoughts from Kung Fu waved through my mind on dealing with power and flowing. I decided to change course and put the waves on my stern quarter. The ride smooth out remarkably. I thought, yeah, the lessons, teachings, wisdom are quite true. What else can I apply from learned lessons, training here?
I gave some thought to the approaching higher winds over the next hours and days. I thought about my sail plan. I considered heading more south than southwest and going with the flow of the energy. Further south was an anchorage I could take shelter and a rest in if needed. There were however several issues with this plan. 1. I could only go so far SouthEast before running out of room, the rocky shore was much stronger than me or the Zenamaran (item 10). 2. If I sailed to the South I would be abeam to the increasing sharp waves (item 11). 3. The anchorage was still 250 plus miles South of our position (item 12)…
The alternative, fight this for the next two days going windward and angling to the waves as much as possible, mostly on my own as LZ though having the heart to do it, did not have the strength or skill for long periods of this…or
Remember Ling Sisook’s, words in doing Tai Chi push hands “sometimes when you lose, you win” and turn around and go back the 30 miles to the marina, do the added up repairs, adjustments, review the lessons learned and re-start another day. The Tao seemed to be saying in so many soundless words, this is not the time to go forward.
LZ would not be happy turning around, she saw it as losing face.
I thought it was the wise choice.
The i-Ching said: Chien.
I told the crew we were heading back to base.
Seas calmed approaching the bay
Setting spring sun peeked through the clouds
We lost, yet we won.