Day 13 - 05 59.25S 126 31.63W

Mike and Liz Downing
Thu 13 May 2010 03:46
The winds eased a little today and allowed us to make more south. The seas have remained big and it's been a roller coaster ride. However, I haven't seen much of that as I've been taking the boat apart below to try and trace a fuel tank leak that started yesterday afternoon. We found fuel in the main bilge and the tank was emptying quite quickly, the fuel being pumped into the sea by the automatic bilge pump. So we went into electricity conservation mode as with no fuel we have no engine and no generator. We did run the generator and watermaker as soon as we found the problem to fill the water tanks, so we should have plenty of water. It's times like these we are pleased that we have the tow generator to charge the batteries and the Hydrovane to steer the boat without any electricity needed. Using these 2 we have been generating more electricity than we have been using, which is good. Despite the conditions we have been able to take up most of the floorboards and try and find the leak. Having been investigating for the last 24 hours, all we are certain of is that it is the main tank that's leaking (not a fuel line somewhere) and that it's underneath and not somewhere we can get at. As the tank is under the floor, taking it out is a major disassembly job and something that's not easy in a marina. It's impossible when at sea and especially in these conditions. So further investigation will have to wait until we arrive. We suspect the leak was caused by the tank moving in the heavy weather, perhaps fracturing a bracket, but we don't know and it may just be coincidence. Anyway, the leak has slowed down and much to our surprise we still have some fuel in the tank. We don't know how long it will last as the leak is continuing. We do have some fuel in cans on the deck and we hope to use this to help get into the anchorage if we can't sail in.

While we've been busy trying to sort this out the boat has been happily sailing on and although we slowed down due to the weather and to make it easier to work below, we still had a noon to noon run of 157.7 miles with just a headsail up. Having put the boat back together down below this afternoon we hoisted the mainsail again and focusing on sailing once more.

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