Because I’m navigating near land and have various islands and the risk of fishing boats and nets with no AIS nearby, I haven’t slept longer than 30 minute stretches the past 2 nights and am feeling the effects. When you’re on the open ocean, as long as the weather is OK, you can almost always find sleep, as the risks of hitting something are incredibly remote (unless you come across a wayward bouy or underwater volcano of course). As soon as you get near land the risks increase by significant orders of magnitude and its these times when I really wish I had someone to share the watch duties with as, call me crazy, but I’d chose sleep deprivation over running aground any day if the week. The results though are tiredness, poor cognition, low mood and depleted energy so it’s not something you want to be doing for long stretches of time. Thankfully, I’ll be heading into more open waters later today so I know that by this time tomorrow I should be back to my usual self.
As well as being tired, my toe was sore this morning and as the wind was still on the nose, I felt quite frustrated. I decide to have a mid-morning nap on deck at 9am so I can recalibrate. I close my eyes and was asleep in minutes. I really am very tired and sleep of any kind or duration is extremely welcome. I manage to get a solid hour in, which is enough to get me going and I feel all the better for it. It’s remarkable how different the world looks through a well-rested lens, or even a partially rested one.
My companion for the day is the north western section of New Ireland, a large mountainous, rugged and heavily forested island on PNG’s western border. It’s a spectacular land mass and I take great joy in exploring it with my eyes as we slowly pass by. I wonder what sort of tribes live there (if any). What their practices are and how often they interact with “modern” society. Such a contrast to the world I left behind in Hong Kong. I mentioned to Naryth (my oldest son) about the history of head hunting and even cannibalism in PNG when we spoke a few nights ago and it may have been a bit of a “dad failure” as he immediately jumped to the idea I was sailing past zombies and he told me it was way too risky and that I should stay away from land. Well… I can safely report that, so far at least, New Ireland is Zombie free. Let’s hope the rest of PNG I’ll be passing is too.
As I reach the western tip of New Ireland, I start heading due south and will be for days now. It feels good after hunting east for so long to be on a different compass bearing. Even just the change in where the sun rises and sets in relation to the boat is a welcome change, though I’ll have to relearn where the primo shaded spots are at different times of the day as I’d had this well and truly sorted after a month on the same bearing.
I spend the afternoon working on my repairs to the gooseneck as the initial system I put in place to stop the pin from falling out is just not working and given the wind strength forecast for the Coral Sea (20-30knts) in a few day’s time, it’s imperative I have a more permanent solution in place well beforehand. What’s needed is a steel base plate under the frame (and therefore the pin), that’s supported from above to counter any downward pressure from the pin wanting to escape the housing.
I spent the last few days looking through everything I have on the boat and think I’ve got a workable solution. The “plate” will be the remains of a steel cheese grater/knife (like a small, fancy spatula). Under this I’ve made a cross out of two backing plates from unused clip on points as a brace to push against the pin with both pieces held together with wire. I then connect dyneema to a shackle which goes under the plate and brace and then connect the dyneema to a spare halyard. Before I take up the tension on the halyard, I put another loop of dyneema around the shackle, perpendicular to the halyard around the mast. Once it’s tightened the plate is firmly in place. All that’s left is to put the halyard on the winch and then grind away (but not so much I pull the entire gooseneck off the mast). It’s certainly not pretty, but it’s solid and I think it’ll hold, or at least I bloody well hope so.
Many thanks Sara! Having a good couple of “smooth” days before I tackle Jomard Passage and surrounding islands then hit the Coral Sea.
I’d have gladly welcomed you on board to help with a watch today Eileen!
Thanks for confirming the math too on distance to horizon and yes, I’ve got a “palm” on board so am all ready to earn my sail maker stripes tomorrow.
So lovely to hear from you Sherry!
Looking forward to catching up when I’m back on land.