Transpac 2005: Chuting for Fifth

With only one chute onboard, Enchilado's crew has to balance being cautious and trying to catch boats.

Lat 25 - 50.0 N Lon 141 - 27.3 W Sorry that I missed a day of transmission, but our onboard computer has been consuming 7 amps of priceless power and our Sailmail service has curtailed my excessive use. I believe the latter is due to our receiving our grib files with weather projections through this service. At any rate, I have been unable to send anything for two days. We have been flying the kite now for three days in the trades. A steady 10-15 knots from the NNE with 2 to 3-foot seas have moved us along at between 7.5 and 8.5 knots with an occasional unsustained run of up to 10 knots. The chute has blown at the clew four times with the same amount of repairs. Our repair kit is running lean and since this is the only chute onboard, we are treating her delicately. I just got off my 10 hour driving watch and my fingers have hardened in wheel grip mode and I hardly can type. In a strategy to save our spinnaker from possible damage, we've doused it for the evening and are running dead downwind, wing-on-wing with the genoa poled out to starboard. We are a little nervous since two squalls passed us last night and we are seeing several others this evening all around our horizon. They say there is more wind further south, but it looks like it's over 250 miles south of us and for a displacement boat like Enchilado, the extra mileage probably won't pay off for a few more knots of wind speed. We are in 6th place of 7 in our Aloha A Division and are working our way to chase down 5th. After eight days of racing, we are starting to get a better feel for the various performance moods of the boat. Today, as we were flying the spinnaker and sailing at close to 9 knots in a cat's paw breezes, we lost the halyard. All of the sudden we had the chute dragging alongside of us in the water at the same speed. Everyone pitched in and got it onboard without any rips. Since it was already 8:30 PM we bagged it wet for raising again in the morning. The halyard had chafed through at the masthead sheave. We have a backup, which we'll rig tomorrow. Ricardo, the skipper's son, went up the mast in the bosun's chair to the first spreaders to untangle a line wrapped around the radar housing. Our days are filled with lots of little details and we are all forming the necessary team to keep us moving fast. This little island we call Enchilado is now 1,150 miles from the West Coast and the same distance from the Hawaian Islands. So we celebrated with tacos. Enchilado - Out