John here, at 0400 on the night watch. It’s not all hot chocolate, star gazing, and meaningful contemplation you know. Laysan has been gliding gracefully the last couple of days through the middle of the great Pacific high pressure system of summer, with calm seas and winds that make for speeds over 6 knots and smiles all around. This will not last for long but it feels timeless with the pleasant rumble of the diesel resonating through the boat. Until, something is not so pleasant about the rumble.
About an hour ago, the rpm dropped suddenly by 200 and the speed dropped below 5 knots, which could be the throttle slipping since it is held in place for days at a time by a simple friction screw. But it also felt like the water around Laysan got thicker, holding her back, and the rumble had a whine in it. More throttle and the rpm comes up, but the fuel flow is double, so normal is no longer in place. Idle, neutral, floodlights aft to check for debris, nothing. Reverse, back down, neutral, wait. Engine room check all ok. Forward, engage, throttle up to 1900, speed back up over 6 and fuel flow normal, engine room check ok, now breathe. Laysan is gliding again.
Possibly we have fouled the prop with some of the scattered line and net we see each day and avoid, but at night, well, it’s back to the original theory of small boat in a big ocean where untoward intersections of objects is unlikely. This theory has its flaws in a world of plastic, which is part of our ocean cleanup campaign. And it certainly becomes a more pressing reality when Laysan whines and slows in the night. Later today in the daylight, we will send GoPro over the side on a stick to examine the drive train for remnants of this night watch mystery.
The wind and the swell are now picking up from the west indicating we are possibly experiencing the edge of a cold front. At least it is pushing us in the right direction for a change. That’s the news from 37 34N and 142 28W. 1000 miles to go. All the best to our friends and family.