I hope this Christmas finds everyone in good health and high spirits. It’s not very festive down here but I did put some things aside for the holidays. I have a can of ham (my Christmas ham). I have half a bottle of 15 year old Highland Park scotch and a cigar. So it’s a good Christmas. I don’t have a tree but I do have a red and green light on top of my mast. I wish I had an angel; I would tie it to my masthead. I’ve been alone in the middle of the ocean twice in the last three years on Christmas. Last time I was half way between Gambia (West Africa) and Antigua. I’ve got stop sailing alone one of these days, it’s getting a bit ridiculous. Anyways, Ho Ho Ho, and all that good stuff.
My automatic bulge pump died. That really sucks. I brought an oil extraction pump with me in case I had to do an oil change mid trip. I never had to use it and since I only have 10 gallons of diesel left I won’t need it. So I jury rigged the oil extraction pump and converted it into a manual bilge pump. Luckily I have the large model that holds 4 liters. I set it up next to my head so I fill the oil extraction pumps reservoir with bilge water then dump it in my head and flush it overboard, and then I repeat the process until the bilge is empty. The nice thing about an oil extraction pump is they pressurize so I pump it a few times and it will suck out a half gallon. St Brendan takes on a lot of water so I have to do this every five hours round the clock, but whatever. Historically speaking having to work the pumps was common practice on old sailing vessels, so things have gotten a bit more traditional.
I got a bit dinged up about a week and a half ago. It was blowing 30-35kts and these squally rain showers where consistently passing by producing 40kt winds. If there’s too much wind my wind generator disconnects (somehow) from my batteries and without that load it starts spinning out of control. You can tell when this happens because the sound that the wind generator makes changes drastically. So I went outside to tie off the blades and stop the generator from spinning. It sits on an eight foot pole, and because of the 40kt winds my boat was heeled over something awful. I had very little sail up so there was nothing I could do about that. Anyway, it’s a precarious job but I managed to tie off the wind generator. In order to get from the back of my cockpit to the companionway I have to step over the lines that run from my wind vane to my tiller. I’ve done this 1,000 times and could do it blindfolded. The problem was that it was 2 or 3am and the thick clouds blocked out the moonlight so I was sailing in pitch black darkness. As I went to step over the line a wave came out of the darkness hitting me with a solid wall of water. I had one foot in the air so it easily threw me across the cockpit. I came down hard on a winch right in the ribs and I must have hit several other things as I was dinged up in a half dozen places. I was alright after a few days but it hurt to take a deep breath for a while. The point is, when things go wrong on a sail boat it happens very quickly. One moment I’m sleeping peacefully in my sleeping bag, a few minutes later I’m sprawled out in the bottom of my cockpit with the wind knocked out of me, covered in water, trying to figure out what just happened.
Well, all in all, all is good. I’m happy to be down here. It’s an exciting place with an infamous history. I’m 1,240 miles from the Horn and right on schedule. The winds will pick up as I get closer to the Horn. It looks like I might have a gale in the next few days. So happy holidays, drink some egg nog for me and have a good new year.