Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Puerto Rico II

So, now I'm at Sizzler. Great wi-fi, a seat with an electrical outlet, and a cost effective "all you can eat" buffet. "All you can eat", huh? They obviously don't know who they are dealing with here. I can hyperextend my stomach like a boa constrictor's jaw. A sail bum oasis. hhmm... 500nm from South Caicos to San Juan... four days at sea. I'll do my best to summarize without leaving anything out.....

The weather window was perfect as predicted by Chris Parker. Thank you, Chris Parker. Four days is a BIG window to ask for and we got it. The only aspect even remotely resembling a flaw would be the squalls, but let's not get greedy, eh? One 200nm Stbd tack North East out to sea, and one 300nm Port tack SouthEast to San Juan:

No real gnarly conditions to speak of, except for one intense squall which hit on my solo night shift. It was an intense one, but Otto hung tough right through it, so I could stay pseudo-dry under the dodger. Thanks to the radar, the sails were reefed in preparation. I still can't believe John and Jordi both slept through it. It was a doozie. Speaking of sleep....

Major props to John and Jordi who came up with an AWESOME new 3 hours on / 3 hours off / "overlapping swingman" watch schedule which KICKED ASS. We were all fully rested all four days and nights, and I am still fully rested as I type this! Amazing. Thanks, guys. Good work. And I still don't understand how the schedule works.... I just know it DOES.

The menu: FRI - hot dogs, steak fries and canned green beans (John). SAT - beef stew, hash browns (Steve). SUN - beans & rice (Jordi). MON - fresh bread, spaghetti o's with fresh carrots (Jordi and John respectively).

Mechanical failure #1: We either got dirty fuel in South Caicos, or put too much cleaning agent in our tank which loosened up too much debris in the tank at once. We clogged our primary fuel filter twice en-route, enough to stop the engine. Twice. We were glad to be in a "blowboat" and not a "stinkpot". We had to conserve the third and last filter by sailing and only sailing for the entire last day and night. The winds co-operated, thank God. The race was on.... we had to sail-and-only-sail to Puerto Rico before our weather window closed and the wind and seas intensified.... we just made it.

Mechanical failure #2: Self-induced. Our rudder post stuffing box seeps water into the bilge. This annoys us. We attempted to tighten it up en-route, which made it worse. DOH! Live and learn.

Thermodynamics. We started the trip packed with ice and drinking cold drinks. Ice melts faster on board when the engine raises the mean cabin temperature. We were drinking lukewarm drinks by mid-trip. By the end, the drinks were actually warmer than the outside ambient temperature, due to the afforementioned engine heating effect. I stocked up on my life-giving elixir known as Diet Coke before we left. I should have noted the dust on the cans.... they were WAY OLD. Expired Diet Coke tastes like a seltzer water with some unpalatable sythetic chemical accidentally spilled into it. And I drank them in a warmed-up state. Gross. huh? Only for the first few.... kinda like Milwaukee's Best. You get used to it. They had the caffeine which my neurosynapses have come to require in my old age. And our milk spoiled. No more cereal.

This is a NOAA weatherfax we recieve on single sideband radio. These puppies and Chris Parker's Caribbean weather broadcasts determine when, where, and how S/V Audax makes her moves. Or..... stays put:

Feeling dirty? Tired? Unkept? Smelly? Liberal applications of this stuff in strategic spots on your body can change your whole outlook. A real morale booster. It's just like a shower! (yeah, right) Chris Bartlett has been raving about this stuff for years, and I have scoffed. I DON'T SCOFF ANYMORE. I'm now a big fan:
See the "schmutz" in the bottom of the sight glass? It stopped our engine twice:
Jordi navvin' up a storm. Not literally. (Bad choice of words):

This is a SQUALL. A delightful little concentrated dose of gale force wind and torrential downpour. Avoid these if possible. Luckily, these show up quite well on the radar at night:
Who's THAT? He was with us on this trip for sure. Wassup, HP?!:

Lots of "chill time" when you're on a 38ft boat for four days:
Look who's back! Always a welcomed greeting:
Thanks, Johnboy, but I think I'll just look at the GPS if you don't mind. I, too, used to have that "thirst for knowledge". He's also trying to learn Spanish in two days:
There He is again. G'night, HP!:
YES! YES! I love America! And the colonized territories thereof! YES!! Today I had McDonald's, Starbucks, Sizzler, and found these gems while ducking into a convenience store during a downpour earlier today.... coincidence? I think not. I bought four:
Cruise ship mania, Old San Juan:

I fly outta here for Florida this Friday, for the Daytona 500 and Van Halen. Very much looking forward to those.... let's see what kinda shenannigans I can get into here in San Juan before then.....

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