Wednesday 8th December. (Day 17)
Noon Position: 14 deg 52'N 40 deg
Daily Run : 169 (A record!!)
Average Speed: 7.04 Knots
Total Average Speed: 4.85 Knots
Total Distance covered: 1986'
Distance to go: 1182'
Total No. of motoring hours: 57.7 hours
ETA St. Lucia: @ 6 knots Thursday 16th Dec @
@ 5.1/2 " Friday 17th Dec @ 0900
@ 5 "
Saturday 18th Dec @ 0700 hrs
Our Hyrdovane self-steering was christened
'Dobbie'. Reason was nothing to do with a Harry Potter character, but the
fact that as Ben was looking at it a couple of evenings ago when we were
eating supper in the cockpit. We were running downwind, and the wind vane
was nodding at us over the pushpit rail. Ben decided that it looked
like a horse waiting for a carrot or some hay, so we called it Dobbin - hence
We are now in some big and heavy seas. It
has been blowing force 5 - 7, from Stbd quarter, for the last 3 days and we are
corkscrewing along in heavy seas doing anything between 7 - 9.5 knots.
Even the spinner on the log line was jumping out of the water. I came off watch
at 2100 (Sylvie was already asleep in her bunk)and Ben was on watch until
midnight. At 2300 Catou suddenly started steering erratically and I got up to
see if I could help Ben. She would only steer about due north (instead of
west) and whatever we did with Dobbie, she wouldn't behave. We
disconnected Dobbie and got her back on course, and tried again. As I was
on the wheel, Ben peered over the stern with his head torch and exclaimed " a
bolt has come out of Dobbie's lower bracket" What!
Basically the self-steering is a vertical solid tube
with wind vane on the top and a rudder at the bottom (with some clever mechanics
in the middle). It is attached to the upper transom (stern) by an
upper 'A' bracket in the horizontal plane and a lower single bracket close
above the water line(with 2 bolt holes). One of the lower bracket bolts
was sticking out and the wooden backing plate that the main bracket rested
on was askew! Ben had dived forward to take off the mainsail rope
preventer so we could heave to, and I suddenly realised that we HAD to catch
that bolt before it slipped out - and down to the bottom of the North
Atlantic. Ben got back quickly, and with lifeline attached, stepped down
onto the bathing platform on the stern and caught the bolt. Handing it up to me,
I saw, with some relief, that it hadn't sheared off, so the washer and nut must
be in the after locker - somewhere.
With some difficulty, in a heavy running sea and force 6
winds we managed to heave to and assess the situation. A small amount of
water was occasionally getting through the bolt hole, but nothing to worry
about. As my Atlantic crossing handbook says, 'There are two types of
emergency on board (1) when the boat is sinking, and (2) when it's
not! We fell into the second category fortunately! Next job (by this
time Sylvie was with us and it was nearly midnight), we had to empty the aft
locker - A BIG JOB! It was full of everything from ropes, canvas covers,
fenders, collapsible shopping trolleys, water carriers etc etc....
Out it all came and down into the saloon it all went. Out came the
tools. I'm a big chap - but I knew exactly how to get into the very tight
and very strangely shaped locker, since I fitted the vane with friend Brian
Sharp ( see yesterday's blog). I quickly found the washers and two nuts
and there seemed no other damage. (It was very fortunate that the 2nd bolt
hadn't sheared off with the extra strain). Ben climbed over the stern, and
standing on the bathing platform, up to his waist in water (cover your eyes up
Lucinda, as you read this) he managed to tap the wooden block between bracket
and hull with a hammer, and line up the bolt holes. Sylvie was relaying
messages between Ben and I and passing us tools as required, while I lay in the
bottom of the stern locker waiting to see the bolt slide through, so I could
quickly get the washer and nuts on it. I begged Ben not to drop that
bolt - I knew that I didn't have a spare one of that length!
With Ben hanging on to the stern and holding a spanner
on the outer bolt heads, I was then able to tighten them up and get the locking
nut back on. How it had worked loose with a locking nut, I don't know -
but they had, and dropped off to the bottom of the locker. We had been
VERY lucky not to have had a much worse situation. Everything went back
into the locker and at 0100 this morning, we set off again and got back on
course. We had lost about 1 1/2 hours (probably 10 - 12 miles in
distance), but we have been going so fast, that in spite of the heave to, we are
having a record day's run (see daily figures above).
Ben didn't know if he was in a fictional world, or
reality last night - when the problem arose with the erratic steering, he was in
the middle of reading about the Sunday Times Golden Globe race in 1968, and was
just reading about Robin Knox-Johnson doing running repairs in the middle of the
Southern Ocean! Nothing like a bit of reality to add some spice to life!
Bonjour au Quebec !
Apres tant d'attente, nous avons maintenant beaucoup de
vent. La mer est tres houleuse et Catou ne se plaint pas .Elle nous demontre ses
capacites en mer forte.
Nous estimons arriver dans 10 ou 11 jours. Qu'il est
grand cet ocean!!!!
Paul et moi iront nous reposer 2 jours a l'hotel en
arrivant. Quel luxe!!!
Je pense a vous et j'espere que les epitres de Paul vous
sont agreables a lire!!!
Nous continuons de prendre de photos qui seront
ajoutees dans notre blogue a Ste Lucie.
Malgre tous les evenements vecus, je ne m'enuie pas du
Grosses bises a tous!
That's all for today! We have to empty the locker
again this afternoon to see how the nuts are behaving!
Best wishes Paul, Sylvie and