15:51.728N 45:25.797W

Wed 10 Dec 2008 12:14
Yesterday our self steering gear was attacked by a shark!

Our Hydrovane self steering gear consists of a wind vane connected to its own rudder. This steers us quite happily except when the wind is very light or we are motoring. Then we attach an electronic tillerpilot to the hydrovanes own short tiller. The tiller pilot has a ram controlled by an electronic compass which then controls the tiller. We have only ever had 1 problem with this arrangement when we engaged the tiller pilot but forgot to remove the locking pin on the rudder. In that instance, the forces generated by the ram were sufficient to snap the tiller!
We were just about to have morning coffee, when the tiller snapped again. Our immediate thought was that the locking pin must have slipped into place causing the problem. However, upon checking, we found the pin was OK. We then looked over the stern to check the rudder and you can imagine our increased heart rate when we saw a 9 foot hammerhead shark in the attack position (upside down) trying to bite the rudder blade. It had obviously prevented the rudder from moving which had caused the tiller to snap.We then pushed down the throttle to gve us more speed and mike started zig-zagging on the wheel. It took 10 minutes before it left us in peace.
We have repaired the tiller with epoxy and hope that it will hold firm until St Lucia.
Fortunately while all this happened, the breeze finally set in which allowed us to sail properly and for which we do not need the tiller.
Throughout the last 24 hrs the wind has increased to NE 20kts and we are now romping along.
130 miles covered in the last 24 hrs. 904 miles to go.