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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Daily Grind (24/24; 7/7)

A little on what's actually happening. We are flying along (4.5 to 6 knots) dead down wind and down seas. (Wind directly blowing from the North over our stern and the 1-3 metre swell - old smooth big waves) also come up behind the stern and we rise up, get pushed a little either side and often slide down the front of the wave face with a sweet swisssshhhh... then "Monti" our Monitor Servo-pendulum wind vane corrects our course with regard to the wind pressure on the wind vane paddle.

Monti then pulls or pushes the tiller (fondly known to the rest of the crew as "Tilly") to bring Terrwyn back on course. Monti has a water paddle also which actually powers the tiller control. Very very clever, silent, reliable and zero energy provided by us as electrical or mechanical assist. "Monti" does this via "Tilly" 98% of the time and we correct "Monti" by moving his wind paddle 1-2 inches into the wind every few hours as the wind or seas back or veer every few hours. (Cathy says its a "Look Ma no hands" situation for the rest of the crew since Monti and Tilly have everything well in hand - as it were!). That's how we steer Terrwyn after plotting our position on the chart and determine where we want to go. The wind and sea condition limit where we can go and the changing conditions make it all a dynamic fun project.

Now the power to push Terrwyn (20,000 lbs.) through the ocean obviously comes from the wind. We catch this wind energy by putting out various sails, the sails transmit to energy via the rigging (wires and ropes) to the hull and the hull pushes through the water. Simple.

For example after our first few days " beating' into the SW wind we picked up this amazing Northerly Breeze pushing us along due South exactly where we want to go. So, for the last week or so our 10' 10" wide vessel has presented to the wind nearly 35 feet across of sail. To do this we deploy two spinnaker and whisker poles to the sides to hold out the sails, two twin jibs, head sails in our rig's 37 feet , 20,000 lb. displacement. This is where our work comes in. It often feels like we rowed the darn boat all day after pulling, setting and changing the position of these ropes (lines) to control the poles and the sails. We love this work... and work it is... but it is good work. Like mountaineering rope work, these lines which average 1/2 inch in diameter and 30-40 feet long are wonderful to hold and pull.

Terrwyn's 37 foot, 20,000 lb. displacement dictates the size and pressure on these working lines (running rigging) and the size of the various sails. The sizes and forces involved are about as great as one man or woman can generally manage without power assisted devices i.e. electrical or hydraulic powered winches. We have a 1/2 dozen mechanical winches and as many simple pulleys to increase our strength to adjust these lines to hold the sails and poles in place. And they often require adjustment as wind and speed and direction change. Nothing "fiddly" about these ropes and they are so lovely to hold.

On my previous boat and in racing situations 7 or 8 guys did this work, but here it's just we two (and Monti). So we take longer to do most sail changes but still do all the same work. Fortunately the joy is in the labour not just the fruit.


Bill the Sailor Wannabe


  1. How interesting to learn about the devices that are assisting your course of adventure! Displacement, Monti, Tilly, 24/24 7/7 - terminology of pulleys and sails. And you still have time to post about this! Fantastic!
    Mark and Laura

  2. Here I go and plot your position on Google Earth every time you provide them, and today you forgot!! It reminds me of "where in the world is Waldo". By my dead reckoning, you should be closing in on the true geographical tropics by now. By degrees lat. the entire distance to the Marquesas is about 56 degrees, and Terrwyn has seen the back of about 25 of them, maybe a little more. Good going!

    Hugs all round,


    P.S. Hope you rec'd the Emails you requested.

  3. Hi again Cathy and Bill,
    Your descriptions of "Monti" and "Tilly" are fantastic. It was beginning to sound as though you didn't have any work to do until you described the line work. Hope you have enough food on board to keep your calories up. I'm sure Cathy made sure of that.
    Have you had time to play your ukeles yet?
    Hope to hear from you again soon with your position. It does sound as though you are making fairly good time.
    Thinking of you both!

    Carole and Richard

  4. Enjoyed your blog today, particularly about the waves, how things work and what you need to do to move your vessel across the ocean!

    April and Brent

  5. Hi Bill and Cathy

    Sitting doing a boring plastics list with P Fowler, Lisa, Tanya, John Ross and we're all thinking of you wafting along!! so exciting -good for you! As for your signing "bill the wannabe sailor": HARDLY a wannabe! You, my friend, are DOING it. Happy adventuring!