South Atlantic - Day 21

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Fri 1 Feb 2013 03:46
11:52S 031:10W  1565 miles covered
Another day of gentle breezes and sunshine.  We put up the asymmetric spinnaker again for a few hours during the day, but there was not enough wind to really make a difference.  We might try again tomorrow, if we get over 15 knots of wind, otherwise we will just be going all the rest of way with the Parasailor.
The rudder clunking was louder this morning and I was concerned that the bearing had gone completely and we might be getting damage to the housing that would be hard to fix later.  If so, it might be better to take the starboard rudder out completely and continue with just the port rudder until we can fix the bearing.  It was time to go for a snorkel to see what was going on underneath. 
The sea was pretty calm, with swells of about a metre, which meant that the conditions were fine for swimming off the back of the boat.  The only problem was that, even with all the sails down and with the wind on the beam, Anastasia was moving forwards at a couple of knots.  That is quite a swimmable speed with fins on, but it means your body has to be horizontal all the time.  If you hang on to the rudder then you are pushed up against the hull and thrown around a bit by the wave surge.  Next time I would try idling the port engine in reverse to kill all motion through the water, so I could get further below and out of the waves.   But even with the boat motionless, and using the dive tank and weights, I can see how hard it would be to do any kind of work on the outside of the hull in the open sea.  It is fine for inspecting, or maybe knocking a bung into a hole, but you just get thrown around too much to do any intricate work.
Anyway, the good news is that there is still a rudder bearing in place and there does not appear to be any damage to the housing.  I can pull the rudder back and forth, and see it moving a few millimetres, but it does not look anything like as bad as you would think from the noise it makes.  No need to worry any more.
Here is a slightly blurry picture of the rudder bearing.  The thing I needed to see was that the white bit of plastic was still there and doing its job.  The housing is a bit barnacle encrusted, but seems to be fine.