Transpac 2005: Hey Everybody, Heaven's Over Here!

Electrical and sail problems are just part of another day at the office in the Transpac

Lat 27-19.6 N Lon 132-14.6 W This is why this ocean race is so popular. Yesterday we spent the entire 24 hours beam reaching to the trades. With NNW winds at 18-20 knots and 3-5 foot seas we were easily whizzing along at 9 knots with occasional spurts into the 10.5-knot range. No waves boarding not too cold. I was convinced that I was in heaven's foyer, having a prelude to the bliss to come further down the line once we hit the trades. Divisions III and IV got off at their start at 1 PM and we can hear them checking in at 8 AM and again at 5:30 PM with our chaperone boat, Alaska Eagle skippered by Grant Baldwin (the voice of Transpac) as we report our positions and weather conditions daily. Since this is Enchilado's shakedown cruise we are dealing with some little details that invariably come up. Interesting that some things happen and then you find yourself saying: "sure that's logical, it's supposed to happen, right?" For example a brand new boat will have small debris such as sawdust, fiberglass dust, small scraps of paper, as well as an airline ticket from Anaheim to San Diego on the inside of its hull. Stuff that accumulates as the boat is being built. When water gets in and starts to swish around all that debris finds itself to the bilge sump where all the bilge pump hoses proceed to suck it up and clog the pre-filters. We are also experiencing some type of electrical drain somewhere in the system that is draining our battery banks so we are administrating our fuel consumption to recharge daily, problem is that since we are in racing mode, our fuel supply is less than half of capacity. So we constantly go over the fuel consumption graphs and recalculate conservatively everyday to convince ourselves that we have enough to hold us for the next seven days that we estimate will take us to cross the finish line. After five days since the start, we put the spinnaker up at 10:30 AM (7/16) and ran a cool 10.5 knots with the true wind off our starboard quarter at 15-17 knots. Then hell peaked around the corner when the clew sheet came off. Douse the spinnaker re-shackle the sheet to the clew and up again. Then two hours later it reoccurred, so this time I tied a bowline to it and wrote the shackle off to defective. But bad things always come in three's, right? Well it was right; we effectively made three radial 4-foot rips out from the clew. Luckily we spotted it in time before it zippered opened all the way to the head of the kite. Down comes the chute and one hour on the bow repairing the rips before taking the chute up for the third time in seven hours. Since this is our first day with the chute up, the skipper rightly decided it would be in our best interest to douse it for the evening and run on main and headsail. Sure we'll lose some valuable time to the competition, but then again we are just starting to get acquainted with one another. The gribs this morning showed the 48 hr forecast with a hole opening up along our heading, so we've decided to take a dive for the south and skirt this area of predicted low winds and stay in 15-20 knots conditions. That's good news because our fleet is divided into two groups, one further to the north and another group further to the south, we belong top the latter. So things are happening somewhat as expected but we still are reaching away and yesterday clocked 199 miles. Enchilado - Out