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One More Step to Paradise

Hi Mary: Hello from Antara. We are cruising along at 6.5 knots on deep blue waves in 12-15 knots of wind. We are two weeks out and looking at another 5 to 6 days to arrival at Hiva Oa, in the Marquesas. Wednesday seems optimistic but would be nice, if we get there during daylight. Our location is: 7 degrees 20 minutes South and 126 degrees 40 minutes West. We are trying to go due west in the Southern Equatorial trade winds, as the latest GRIB files suggest that tomorrow there will be 15-20 knot winds if we can stay high (closer to 7 degrees 00 minutes), but we can't hold a heading of 270. We are able to go about 259, and this is fine as we are dancing of the crests of the waves as they surge along underneath Antara. Don just did his nootime reading, and we did 166 knotical miles in the past 24 hours. Our best day was 176.5 NM. Who knew that Antara could average 6.5 knots, and closer to 7 knots of days with bigger winds. She likes to have all 3 sails up in conditions like this, set for a broad reach. The autopilot is able to hold her steady and the motion is smooth. Don suggested that I write to you to let know that your two students have come a long way since the early lessons you gave both of us. I recall the first time he mentioned your name after leaving Panama. He was flaking a line and said, "into a loosely organized pile, as Mary would say." The second time he mentioned you, he said you taught him to use a sail tie to secure the clue after we put in the #1 reef on the main. THe third time, he said, "Mary did not teach me about preventers." There were more (references to you), but these are the ones I remember. We have enough water, food, and fuel to get to Hiva Oa. Antara has held up well so far. Don has at least three of everything on board, so there is no problem that cannot be addressed. The jib sheet had some chaffe, and the UV layer of the jib has torn and is fraying, but that is not structural so we can live it. We had a false alarm about the Reverse Osmosis water maker; Don came up to the cockpit and announced that the water had failed. It seemed serious, and we discussed if we had enough water and would we have to start rationing, etc. But Don called the owner of the RO water maker company, and he said that something had to be blocking the flow of water is the system. It turned out that he was right; Don found two arms from the impellor in the booster pump had broke off, and they were blocking the flow of water in the upper tubes. Don had a new booster pump ready to install, and it now works better than before, as the older pump had run on DC, and the new one runs on AC. Don installed a wind generator in Panama before we left, and it is helping to charge up the batteries, but it is not sufficient. Don had to run the motor for about 10 hours to give the batteries a full, deep cycle charge. Today he checked the PH of the batternies, and they are both at the top of the green, so they are happy. A bracket for the preventer on the mizzen boom broke, and this caused the mail sheet block shackle to give away; Don had to dig deep to find the parts to repair that. The SSB antenna (GAM) that attaches to the backstay has flopped loose at the top, and now the SSB signal is weak. We were using the SSB to get GRIB files, but now I have switched over to using my laptop and my Iririum phone to download GRIB files, so we can do without the SSB. Our days pass quickly. We are in the Southern Equatorial Trades. The waves are now nicely formed into 8-10 foot rollers, the water is a beautiful blue and the winds are steady from the south east. We watch the autopilot and adjust sails every now and then to hepl it stay on course. We have put up the spnnaker several times, but Anatara has been very happy lately with all 3 sails (jib, mail #1 reef and mizzen), so we are running with them. I like to to trun off the autopilot and drive for a hour or two each day; I compete with the autopilot for improved boatspeed. Don is uninterested in driving, as he is a cruiser. I seem to be more of a racer; I want the boat to go fast, and so what if we are not on our exact heading, we can make it back later. Don would rather aim directly for the destination. This has lead to some extended discussion of the cultural differences between cruisers and racers. For example, Don had never heard of a boat hing "polars" before. And Expedition is new to him. We are splitting the night watch up into two 5 hour watches. We don't need to watch for other boats as there are none within 100 miles of us, but we do need to listen to the wind and adjust the sails and heading as needed. We are in the trade winds and comfortable running at night with all 3 sails, but there have been several nights with squalls and we reduced sail to the main with #1 reef alone, and motor sailed to stabilize the movement. I am very impressed with how Antara moves through the waves. So, we hope you are doing well. Thanks for all the skills you taught us. Tom and Don s/v Antara

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