PACIFIC CROSSING UPDATE: DAY 19

CONNOR'S UPDATE

Hey everyone!  Not much to report today!  
Weather continues to look light until Tuesday afternoon.  It's been less than 10 kts the last 3 or 4 days, so we've had to motor for a few stretches when the sails start slatting in the evening.  Total engine time: 26 hours.  Our progress is also being slightly hampered by the North Equatorial Countercurrent.   I don't like it, but you get what you get. 
The last two days our daily mileage dropped below 100 miles.  I suspect it will do the same thing today as well.  We're moving as best we can, just fighting against light wind.  It could always be worse - I'm hearing reports from a buddy boat of ours that is much further south of us of consistent 25-35 kt winds.  Given that, I'll take the light stuff!
I also noticed today that a lip seal on the crankshaft of the watermaker high pressure pump may be failing, which is a bummer.  This seal has plagued me since I bought the watermaker.  When I picked the unit up in La Paz, we ran it for about 4 hours to test the system, and I noticed the small leak.  We replaced the seal, and I figured all was bueno.  Flash forward to Zihuatanejo after installing the system, and the leak re-appeared.  Crap!  The guy I bought the watermaker from shipped me out a new lip seal.  I replaced the seal again, and then, ta-da, no more leak.  It hasn't leaked since, and I've probably put another 30 hours or so on the watermaker since.  This morning though, I noticed what appeared to be a *hint* of hydraulic fluid at the bottom of the pump.  I'm not 100% certain it's the lip seal failing - maybe it was just some old fluid that finally worked its way out from the previous leak, but I'm still in a bummer mood from it.  I'm guessing it means there's some sort of defect in the crankshaft - maybe a burr or it's rotating off-axis or something?  Regardless, probably not serviceable for a LONG time.  I have spare lip seals, and worst case scenario is that I can collect the hydraulic fluid in a pan beneath the pump, and then replace the lost fluid after operation.  It's a splash lubrication system, so really, no harm in doing that, I don't think.  And to be clear, the original leak was about 1 drop after every 20 minutes of operation, but still, there shouldn't be a leak whatsoever.  
Anywho, by tonight, we'll be less than 1000 nm from Hiva Oa, and by tonight, we'll have sailed over 2000 nm.  That puts us at over 2/3rds of the way there!  WOW.  Next milestone -- equator in a few days.  Or, whenever the winds pick back up! 
Cheers guys, and thanks for reading with us!

STUART'S UPDATE

Since the excitement of our squall two days ago we've had a relatively uneventful couple of days. We've been running in and out of wind, turning on the engine for several hours here and there. I think the slowness of our forward progress and the anticipation of our big equator milestone has the three of us twiddling our thumbs a bit. That's not to say we are sitting here languishing in boredom - the days absolutely fly by! I guess they kind of have to when you eat breakfast around 10, take a two hour nap, and are back in bed by 9pm ready for your watch shift!
Last night's watch had me relieving Chase at midnight. It had already been sprinkling on Chase for around 45 minutes and when I got on deck it dumped on me! The dodger (the canvas awning on over the cockpit hatch) kept approximately one half of my body damp and the other half soaked. The novelty of rain runs out pretty quick when it's dark and a little chilly. But! The rain did help to rinse my second pair of shorts that were not rinsed in the squall! You win some you lose some.
Chase has been doing a killer job with the cooking. I relieve Chase's second watch shift at around 8am, he goes back to sleep for a couple hours, and then gets up to make breakfast around the time that Connor relieves me. Sitting in the cabin and eating bacon and eggs, or chocolate chip and granola filled yogurt, or oatmeal with dried berries and paging through "Simplified Celestial Navigation" is probably the highlight of my day. Lunch is generally pretty light and adhoc (today was PB&J, yesterday: sandwiches and citrus) and dinner is a concoction cooked up in the pressure cooker - beans and rice, lentils, quinoa, etc. Can you tell I'm hungry? Luckily we have an inordinate amount of oreos, snickers bars, protein bars, and knock-off fig newtons!
Thanks for tuning in!

CHASE’S UPDATE

Alright, alright, alright, day 19, and there’s still a hell of a lot of water out there. The winds are light, but we’re moving along and doing our best to run the motor as infrequently as possible. Hopefully only a few more days of this and then we can find ourselves making up lost speed once we hit the southern trades!

I’ve noticed Connor making predictions in his blog updates for what he thinks I’m going to write about, and I’ve also noticed that he’s nailed every single one (I’m nothing if not predictable). So today I thought I’d write about something he probably won’t predict, which is my very favorite Connor Jackson story and one of the most illustrative stories of the person he is now and always has been (a lot of you have heard this but it’s still cute, so bear with me). 

Connor has always been wildly creative and remarkably handy, with an intense do-it-himself attitude. So when he was around 9 (I think this is the right age, but I have no way of looking it up), he thought up the brilliant idea of something he called Jacuzzi Pants: a baggy watertight suit that you could fill with hot water, which would turn you into a walking hot tub. Not content to let his invention live as merely an idea, Connor set about making Jacuzzi Pants a reality. His first iteration was nothing more than a white plastic garbage bag with a red plastic drawstring. He cut two leg holes in the bottom of the bag, used the drawstring as suspenders, and then proceeded to simply duct tape the leg holes to the inside of his thighs (we’re talking intense dedication to the craft). He stuck the hose down the front of the suit and turned it on. Quickly, the bag began to fill with water, and just as quickly, he realized how much a water-filled garbage bag really weighs. Not only were the drawstrings digging into his shoulders, but he had taped the bag so thoroughly to his legs that no water was escaping, and it was beginning to do a number on his thighs (if I remember correctly, he still has scars from removing the duct tape). Of course, he was cracking up through all of this; pain or not, he had set out to make Jacuzzi Pants, and Jacuzzi Pants were what he had made. After discovering the flaws in version 1.0, he went back to the drawing board and made some serious modifications. The entire bag was reinforced with duct tape, the drawstring shoulder straps were heavily padded, and the taped-on leg holes were replaced with two lengths of that wire-and-foil hose/ducting that you see coming out of the backs of washing machines. This time, after turning on the hose and filling up the suit, there was no pain at all, and everything was completely watertight. The only issue? Try walking around in a suit where each leg is filled with ~100 lbs of water. 

Anyway, Jacuzzi Pants is one of my favorite memories of growing up with Connor, and it makes me smile every time I think of it. A lot of people ask how you end up undertaking all the projects necessary to outfit your own boat for a Pacific crossing by the time you’re only 25. If you had seen Connor in our backyard 15 years ago, wrapping his legs in duct tape so that he could walk down the street while wearing a hot tub, the answer would be obvious. We’ll return to our regularly scheduled boat talk tomorrow.

 

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Chase Jackson