21 Dec 2010

[Captains Blog] Tobago Cays

I'm feeling much better since kicking the fever into touch, so yesterday we sailed back down to the Tobago Cays for a night's R&R. On arrival at the Cays, we rounded Petit Bateau to discover several other yachts already in residence, but found our own spot to anchor in 5 metres of water in between an American Catamaran and a Canadian Sloop. Talk about multi-national neighbours!

After the sun went down in spectacular form with blue streaks breaking up the bright yellow, then amber, then red skies, the full moon rose over the reef ahead of us and was casting a silver glow on the water that lit up the whole area. No anchor lights were needed as it was light enough to see everything around us. After we had eaten our dinner and cleared up, we wnt up on deck to star gaze. I have this piece of navigation software that I would like Debra to get to know which, among other things has a star finder. This plots the sky for the Lat and Long coordinates where you are and displays the stars in the sky right above you, listing the constellations and the names of the individual stars. Neat! We took the netbook with us and compared the display to the heavens and it is remarkably accurate. Whoever designed these programs has certainly made my life easier to navigate by the celestial bodies.

Today's sail was a trip of two halves: The first was a beautiful sail where we had a race with an American cutter and beat them soundly; the second was an absolute pig. The wind changed direction so that we were sailing right into it, then we got hit by a squall where the winds reached 30 knots for which we put in 3 reefs. Given that we were still trying to make headway into the storm, the tide was set dead against us too, we weren't making much progress. Engine on, and motor was the only answer and 3 hours later we were safely tucked up in the comfort of the sheltered side of the bay and we are off out to down several Margaritas with our dinner!

I had a breakthrough with the GPS a couple of days ago, having made up the loopback connector cable as per the instructions I received from Simrad support, inserted it, rebooted the system, removed it and reinserted the proper network cable, tightened everything up and Hey Presto! A fully functional system. I can now set waypoints, create routes and follow them using charts that move around the boat's position instead of me hand-cranking the charts all over the world to find our location. I have now stored the loopback cable in a safe place for if this ever recurs. Not all good news on the technology front however: The camera has definitely decided it is dead which is a real shame as some of the views last night were definitely photo competition winners!

On another topic, one of the benefits of us living aboard Pandora has been that we have been able to refine our understanding of what we would want from a boat -  what equipment to have aboard, the configuration of the boat, internally and externally, and even the type of boat we would want to have for ourselves going forwards. But that can wait for the moment, we are just focused on enjoying Pandora.