Day 969 [May 29/11 JST] -- Back to the Sails (and Quiet)

Today's Report
May 29/11 0800 JST 

Position:  20°07'N, 166°52'W
Remaining distance to Yokohama finish:  10.7%

With reduced winds, easing seas, and the need to conserve fuel, Saito-san switched off the engine this morning and brought out the sails for the first time since leaving Honolulu 4 days ago.  He assured that "everything looks good," and indicated he had altered his course slightly more northward, but plans to avoid the contrary currents mariner charts show above 21 degrees north latitude.

He said that although the wind is still from the east, and thus largely astern, he doesn’t feel it is dangerous to the mast and rigging under the less windy and flatter conditions. He said he is happy to be sailing. "I don't like hearing the engine all the time. Sailing is much better!"

He achieved 162 nm during the period motoring until 4 hours ago. However, the changeover to sail power is expected to cut DMG by close to half. At the time of his call NBSDIII was making about 4.0 or 4.5 kts under a 3pt reefed main and 90% genoa.

He passed another thousand-mile milestone this morning,  and is now less than 3,000 nm from home port.

Sea conditions moderated as a low entered the area. Sea swells dropped from yesterday's near 3 m to about 1.5 m this morning.

He reported he was finally able to start the aux. generator after spending about 40 minutes bleeding air out of the fuel circuit. He said he intends to at least start, if not actually use, the generator several times a day to try to keep air blockages from reoccurring.

During the night Saito-san passed the furthest point he had reached on July 17 of last year when he was forced to return to Hawaii after developing a leak in the engine seawater cooling system, requiring hours of effort at an emergency hand pump. The engine could not be used and after several days under sail the rigging, which had been severely damaged in Punta Arenas, began falling apart. Later investigations revealed major cracks (picture) in the mast.

Mast crack found after his return to Hawaii in 2010
[Click to enlarge]
Above line, his return route last year against headwinds; bottom line (with markers), his present route westward.
Songda, the second typhoon of the season to approach Japan, was downgraded to a tropical storm this morning, according to the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Story can be found here.

Distance in last 24 hours: 162 nm over ground / 159 nm DMG
Total distance completed: 24,726 nm

To Yokohama: 2,974 nm

To Mid WP: 1,028 nm (turn to north after avoiding tsunami debris field)
Heading: 280°
Reported boat speed: 4.0 – 4.5.8 kts
Average boat speed: 6.8 kts
Average daily DMG over last 3 days: 175 nm 
Weather: Mostly cloudy, warm,
Temperature: 25.8° C
Barometer: 1018 hPa 
Wind (from): 12-16 kts E, expected to be 13-14 kts E over next 19 hrs
Waves: 1.5-2.0 m
Sails: Genoa 90%, staysail 0%, mainsail 3pt reef