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Our passage on Julia has been going quite well so far. We’ve had a nice mix of sailing conditions, everything from close hauled and bumpy leaving San Francisco, to calm wing on wing downwind sailing to now the winds have pretty much died out and we’re motoring. Amy has been serving up some delicious meals and the crew is all getting along great. Current estimated arrival into Hawaii is sometime on June 4th.
The one big negative about this passage is that it has been incredibly depressing to see just how much plastic and other garbage debris we’ve been sailing through. Standing on the deck for 15 minutes and I saw large chunks of styrofoam, an old plastic washing tub, dozens of smaller pieces of plastic, and even a small section of the orange plastic construction netting. We’ve seen garbage floating by us in the ocean before, but never on this scale.
So it wasn’t terribly surprising when Amy and I woke up yesterday to an obviously wrong sound coming from the port engine. My first thought was “we wrapped something around the prop” and we hurried to get up on deck. Tom was on watch and did a good job of getting the engine out of gear quickly. Granted, they’d had some practice with this scenario as they had snagged a crab pot at night on the way from Seattle to Portland, but still… it was a nice quick reaction early in the morning.
I couldn’t see anything trailing behind us on the port side, but when looking at the starboard side, there was a 2ish meter length of green polyprop netting trailing behind us. Tom tried to push it off with a boat hook without any luck so I volunteered to jump in.
Fortunately, there was hardly any wind and the seas were incredibly calm, so with the engines off Julia was just barely drifting. Even still, we threw out several lines behind the boat that I could grab on to if needed, as well as a line from hull to hull so that I could easily move across the boat. Tom and Susan have masks and snorkels, but no fins which would have made the job a bit easier.
Julia has Max Prop feathering propellers and I could quickly see that one of the feathered blades on the starboard prop had just barely managed to snag the netting. I didn’t even need to cut the netting as just lifting it over the blade did the trick. However, the port prop had definitely gotten wrapped up in some netting but I was able to cut the net free without much difficulty and once I got out of the water, we checked the engines to make sure everything was still good and then got back underway.
It wasn’t until I was rinsing off that I realized that was the first time I’d jumped into the water mid-ocean. I sure hope I never have to do it again for this reason, but it was pretty cool to gaze into the depths and see just a seemingly never-ending expanse of the richest blues I’d ever seen. Just don’t ask me to try and free dive to the bottom!