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June 13, 2000

Tarawa to Solomon Islands voyage, Update #13

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Tue, 13 Jun 2000 00:25:44 -0700
Day 14
Wind South 5-10 knots
Heading 240 Magnetic

We've been too spoilt by the weather conditions for the first half of this voyage for something not to break. It always does. I remember during the first half of the last voyage in which I'd had such luck with the NE trades thinking I would be in Tarawa within 50 odd days. And then we hit the Doldrums. 73 days later we finally hit Tarawa. Like some irritating board game, you think you've got the whole thing in the bag and then some wretched upstart like Mother Nature comes along and throws a googler into the equation. Tiresome behaviour indeed.

Since yesterday afternoon we've been punished by a fresh faced southerly that crept up on us unawares out of the sluggish conditions of the past few days. All through the night and today we've been keeping Moksha's nose as close to the wind as we can while still keeping the hull moving - a heading of about 240M. It's bad news for the knees that are beginning to complain to both of us. But our options are limited. If we put out the sea anchor and just drift, we go backwards. If we turn into the wind, we at least keep at a standstill but kill our legs and knees in the process. It seems the best out of a poor bunch is to creep west and hope to goodness the wind backs to the eastern side of the compass, which as I write this, it is at last showing signs of doing.

There has been one casualty in all this: an hour ago the propeller shaft on the first of our three pedal units sheared, leaving us dead in the water for the hour and a half that it took to prepare and install a replacement. All things considered, these units that are really designed for use in recreational craft, have served us pretty well. The combined weight of the boat, the tremendous forces imposed by the ocean and on top of all this being asked to propel the boat into the wind - as in the past 24 hrs - is a tall order for any mechanism subject to such low and hard grinding revolutions. Even the industrial grade bevel box we used for the Atlantic crossing eventually gave up the ghost near the end.

Sometimes I wonder whether thrashing around with a couple of planks like Mick does isn't such a bad idea after all: less things to go wrong.

Luckily the damage is repairable. When we get to the Solomon's we can throw in another lower shaft unit into the unit and it'll be good to go again. And we'll need it too. I've a suspicion after taking another look at the projected wind and current conditions from the Solomon's to Cairns that we're going to need every spare method of propulsion we can lay our hands on.

Jason & Chris,
The Moksha motors

Posted on June 13, 2000 3:05 AM