Totem charges along on a reach.
I wake to the “beep-beep-beep” sound of the autopilot spontaneously shutting down. A less auspicious beginning to our third day, which is otherwise bright and blue. Jamie spends a few hours hand steering. I get breakfast and monitor the morning radio net while skimming through the autopilot manual. The troubleshooting guide lines up with Jamie’s gut: excess friction is causing an automatic shutdown of the drive unit before the motor can be damaged from working too hard. I take over steering the waves while Jamie digs up a can of WD40 and crams himself into the lazarette to lube up our old Raymarine as best he can. We gingerly shift back to the autopilot, helping the wheel along to minimize effort on the drive unit. It seems to work, so Jamie and I sit in the cockpit and eventually breathe a sigh of relief.
Jamie not only wore pants last night, but a fleece and sea boots. I resisted the boots, and neither of us have consented to put socks on yet. We’re just not ready to condescend to wearing them again.
Even though we can’t transmit, the HF radio nets are a key part of our day. Along with friends making the passage to Oz concurrently, we’ve organzied an informal net with twice daily check-ins. Mike from IO runs the show and is our advocate and guardian angel, tracking Totem’s estimated position and sharing weather updates for our benefit.
When the SSB stopped working in Vanuatu, we found that our tune-up was still audible at significant distanc, and we use this single chirp as a basis to communicate. Mike asks us yes/no questions, and we confirm positive responses by hitting the tune button. It can be a bit cumbersome, as the tune process takes about 30 seconds before timing out, but it’s effective. Mike has gotten our position within a radius of just a few miles at each of our twice daily nets, and read forecasts taht we aren’t able to download ourselves. It is truly wonderful to feel so looked after by our friends, to know that even in this vast expanse of ocean, we aren’t alone.
We hear over the net that FlyAweigh has broken a lower stay on their port side. They’ve dropped all sails and are doing fine motoring through with plenty of fuel to reach Australia, but it’s yet another reminder. Anything can happen, an you have to be able to cope with a spectrum of unexpected events. Their boat was commissioned barely a year ago- who would expect this level of rigging problem?
The dryer, cooler air is an exciting reminder of our destination. Pants, foulie jacket, hat and boots were essential for night watch, and I finally submitted ot the tyranny of the socks… sliding into fleece to warm my toes.