December 1995 - Curacao to Honduras

1 December 1995   Spanish Water, Curacao
We had a bit of a hangover after the excesses of happy hour last night.  It was fairly windy so I put the windsurfer up.  The wind, of course, then dropped below the magic 20 knots to 15 knots, which is just not enough to get me planning with a 5.5m² sail.  My kingdom for a 6.2m² sail!  Glenys tidied up and mooched about.  Paul, Chris and Inga from “Soccoro” came for a beer.

2 December 1995   Spanish Water, Curacao
Glenys did school work in the morning, while I got on with a few jobs getting ready to sail to Honduras.  In the afternoon, Glenys did the laundry and a couple of water runs.  I reprogrammed my pocket computer with an Astro navigation programme, so that we can do some astro-navigation with the sextant on our passage.  The laundry wasn’t finished at half past five, so we all went to the bar for a beer and ended up staying and having Vienna Schnizel for dinner.

3 December 1995   Spanish Water, Curacao
School work in the morning for Glenys.  I spent the morning writing letters and printing them out to send to people for Christmas – only 22 shopping days to go!  In the afternoon, we addressed 30+ envelopes. A bit of windsurfing, clarinet and that was that.

4 December 1995   Spanish Water, Curacao
We all went into town.  I cleared out and Glenys did some last minute shopping.  We then spent the afternoon tidying up and doing our last jobs.  We’re planning to leave on Wednesday 6th.  We went to the bar to watch “Water World” on video.  The boys and I thought it was great!

5 December 1995   Spanish Water, Curacao
The computer display hinge mechanism broke, so I spent the morning repairing it.  I filled 3 tanks.  We continued doing jobs and tidying up.  We filled up with fuel.  

Everything was looking good to leave the next day, when at four o’clock, I found out that the fuse on the fridge controller had blown.  I put in a new fuse – it blew.  I took the controller to bits and found that the PCB was badly corroded.   I cleaned it up and tested the output transistor – shorted.  

I took the unit over to a German guy called “Vim” (short for William!), who is reported to be a whiz with electronics.  I left it with him and returned to Glencora to drown my sorrows – we won’t be leaving tomorrow.  Kay and Bob from “Big Toy” came for a beer.  They are crewing on a big 72ft yacht for their food and accommodation and are looking to buy a 40ft yacht – we showed them ours!

6 December 1995   Spanish Water, Curacao
I dropped off my other (dead) fridge controller to Vim and then went into town to buy some fuses.  Glenys did school work.  

My excursion to buy the fuses was a typical one – start at Napa – no!  They suggest the Phillips centre – no.  They suggest Baba’s – no.  They suggest Casa Pablo’s – no.  Dead end.  Back to Baba’s, they suggest Electronics Service Centre – success but they only have 7A instead of 8A – they’ll do!

I picked up the fridge controller from Vim and it worked – we’ll go tomorrow if it survives the night.  It was frustrating to see “Kalida” and “Soccoro” leave for Honduras without us.  I’m convinced that we’ll leave tomorrow so I screwed the computer down to the chart table, so that we can use it on passage.  

7 December 1995   Curacao to Guanaja, Honduras (Day 1)
Looks like good weather, so we did a final tidy up, topped up with water and put the dinghy on deck.  We motored out of Spanish Water and then I rigged up the twin foresails and off we went! (Our way points are Aruba 12°47’N 70°00’W;  Newban 16°08’N 078°23’W, Rosalyn 17°06’N 080° 50’W, Guana 16°23’N 55°00’W. ) 

We had a pleasant sail until mid afternoon, when we came out of the lee of the island – the wind backed to the NE and we had to change to main and genoa.  We slopped along at 3-4 knots and we started to feel a bit seasick – Spanish Water was obviously too calm an anchorage!  At dusk, we caught a nice little tuna (4lb) which was an unexpected bonus.  

Glenys is learning astro-navigation and we took our first sun shots today. Unfortunately, we don’t have an almanac, so we have to rely on my pocket computer.  We also have a program called “PC Navigator” on our notebook PC which is a back-up.  We had a very pleasant night.

8 December 1995   Curacao to Guanaja, Honduras (Day 2)
I woke up in the morning with a headache and feeling queasy.  I’ve got a bit of a runny nose, so I suspect I’ve got a cold combined with mild seasickness – I’ve felt better.  I did a star shot at dawn which was very accurate with a small cocked hat and only about 2 miles to the east of our GPS position.  Our 26 hour run up to midday was 140 miles over the ground, which was good considering that we have had a few slow patches.  Our log reading was only 107 miles, so I suspect that we’ve got a 1 knot current with us as well as the log under reading.  

The boys have been great up to now.  They have entertained themselves playing their gameboys and reading.  I had a 90 minute nap in the morning and Glenys had one in the afternoon.  We seem to be settling into a routine – I just wish I didn’t feel ill!  The blasted bilge was full of water at midday; the stern gland must need tightening up again.  I’ll leave that job until tomorrow – hopefully I’ll feel less tender.  Craig was physically sick (in a bucket) today, he and Brett had been down below playing “Commander Keen” on the computer and it was too much for him!

9 December 1995   Curacao to Guanaja, Honduras (Day 3)
We had an awful night.  The wind was 20-25 knots with squalls going through, so the wind kept dying and the poor hydrovane didn’t know whether it was coming or going.  At ten o’clock, Glenys was dodging a huge black squall and I had to get up and reef the Genoa.  At midnight I was cold, tired and queasy.  I was sick of sailing and wanted to go back to England.  I wallowed in self pity all night.  

In the morning, when the sun came out, life looked a great deal more pleasant.  I dropped the main and put up two running jibs and we rolled downwind.  We were still taking on a lot of water and the bilge pump jammed.  I cleared the bilge pump filter of the pieces of Lego and tightened the stern gland half a turn.  I think I’ll have to repack it when we get there.  My seasickness is getting a bit better, but the smallest job exhausts me.  The continuous motion is very annoying too!  

At five pm, I took down the awning and we went back to broad reaching with a main and genoa.  I expect another hard night.  The boys have entertained themselves all day and have been treasures.   Glenys is a pillar of strength down in the galley, even though the boys want their own meals!  Brett in particular is very fussy.  We had a bit of a scare in the evening because the GPS decided to play up.  It kept saying “external power lost” and then switched off and back on again.  I decided that the problem occurred because of the display light and if left dark it seems to work OK.  

10 December 1995   Curacao to Guanaja, Honduras (Day 4)
We had a fairly pleasant night, the wind stayed constant at 20-25 knots and no big squalls.  It was hard to relax though, because every 20 minutes we would get a big wave, which would come roaring up like an express train. These big waves cause Glencora to yaw to starboard by about 20°, which puts the wind ahead of the beam causing a big increase in apparent wind which overpowers the hydrovane.  The only solution is to turn Glencora downwind every time that I heard the rushing, roaring sound of a big wave.  We got caught out a couple of times and big dollops of water came into the cockpit and straight down into the lounge.  One sprayed the computer with salt water so I had to unscrew it from the chart table and put it away.  

By daybreak, the wind was settling down and we had a nice sail in 15-20 knot winds.  We caught a 10lb tuna – we still haven’t eaten the other one yet, so I’ve pulled in the fishing line.  I feel a great deal better today and caught up on plotting my astro-navigation.  I’ve decided that our log under reads by 15% and using that correction and assuming a 1 knot tide, my Astro fixes are only a couple of miles out.  That’s nice to know in case the GPS fails on us.  

I spent 30 minutes with my head under the sink cleaning out the filter for the fridge – I seem to have had lots of water problems so far.  There’s a cold front coming down from the States which is expected to give us squalls and thunder showers on the 12th – lovely!

At five o’clock, the wind was from NNE and we sailed 60° upwind for most of the night.  At nine o’clock, Glenys got me out of bed to shorten sail.  We ended up with two reefs in the main and half of the genoa rolled away and we still did 5 knots into the 20-25 knot winds.  Thankfully the seas were fairly calm, so it wasn’t too rough a ride.  It was a little worrying because we didn’t know why the wind had backed by 45° so rapidly – was the front going to hit us early?  I should have been logging barometer readings and wind directions which would give me a log of trends.