Time to face a few difficulties

Dave & Becky Werrett
Sat 6 Dec 2008 14:13

Well it has been an exhausting couple of days, hence the lateness of this blog and lack of communication to our loved ones back home so please bear with us. The problems started after tea on Dec 4th. The generator had been cutting out on and off throughout the day, we thought perhaps I had run it for too long and it was simply overheated. By the end of the day we could only get it to run for 2/3 minutes without it cutting out. We had been sailing all day so the batteries were low, and we urgently needed to charge them to run the instruments through the night. Whilst Dave and I got the floor up to look at the problem, Dave W and the lads got the cruising chute down. We had little comprehension of what was going on outside as we were so focussed on resolving the problems in hand but we did notice that we started to rock around violently. We shouted up to the helm to keep the boat still but the situation didn’t change. After a couple of hours, and a number of bruises later, Dave and I were covered in oil and sweat and had not resolved the problem. It was night and there was no sun so the solar panel would not provide power either. We had one bar left – indicating a 5% battery charge.

We went up top to find things were quite lively the wind had started to pick up nicely, and we were getting a steady 15-20Knts. Dave W said they only just got the chute down in time and the boys had done a great job! It was now about 11pm, and we decided to try and get some sleep leaving Dave W and Sam at the helm.  About an hour later we couldn’t sleep and I went back up top, the winds were now blowing 25-35 knts and we were going like a train, the main had already been taken in and we reefed some of the front genoa in we were still doing up to 10knts with just a hankerchief amount of front genoa out. The seas had been slowly building with the wind and you couldn’t see anything – the combined effect was both scary and exhilarating – at last we were going fast! We thought we were in a squall and it would pass – it lasted for nearly 20 hours, and the wind only died back to about 15 knts around ten o’clock last night. When daylight came and we could actually see how big the seas were it really was scary! But the boat handles it all beautifully, gracefully corkscrewing her away around and over the waves that seem to come from all directions, one minute we are in the air, the next we are surfing sideways down a huge roller. This goes on all day, even when the winds are not as strong, the sea remains upset and confused. We log on to check the weather and also to see if other boats have had a similar night to us – they have, many reported 40+knts squalls with thunder & lightening and sheet rain – so i guess we were lucky. Because of the sea – getting  hammock for her to stop her being thrown around. The rest of us have bruises and tempers are short, the heat is overwhelming, the sun makes a brief appearance but most of the time the air is just thick & humid and everyone has beads of sweat running down their face. I guess we must all stink to high heaven but i think we have just got used to each other! Attempts were made to fix the generator, with little success, at least during the day the solar panel is working but still all energy is preserved for the navigation equipment. All 220 volt AC is switched off – much to the kids consternation, they can no longer charge laptops or ipods so have resorted to cards and killing each other in alternate doses. We emailed our issues to our friendly boats (Sophistikate, Mikado and Windancer) Mikado had a brain storming session and emailed us back lots of suggestions as did Sophisitkate but most touching of all was Windancer – John called us on the Sat phone, chatted with Dave about the problem and we have agreed a rendezvous with them at 2pm today as he thinks he has parts which will solve part of our problems.

Without the generator, we have no fridge or freezer, and no water maker, as they only run off the generator, so today I have binned the contents of the fridge and freezer, I am absolutely gutted, I had bought such lovely things to keep morale high. I have plenty of pasta and rice etc but another problem we discovered yesterday was we are down to our last gas canister, the two we bought in Rabat seem to have malfunctioned! So if we can’t cook with gas and we can’t cook with electric, we will be down to eating cereal and crackers, but we won’t starve and to be honest all of us could do with losing a few pounds. Fortunately I realised how critical water was and so bought 12 days supply of drinking water for 6 people ( i figured if the water maker went early in the journey we would detour to cape verdes) this is stowed about the boat and we have just started rationing that out. But there will be no more showers etc, the water tank is down to 1/3rd full and should allow enough water for flannel wash and washing up etc.

In conclusion, about half way across our party boat has become alot more focussed! The instinct to find solutions and just get on with it  is strong and we will come out of this stronger people, I did not know I had it in me to face what I have now faced and still remain cheeful and optimistic!  Hopefully our meeting with John will prove useful as we have had to take a slight detour to meet them, as has he, thank god for friends who would make the sacrifice, he emailed this morning and offered us water, and food, he also offered to stay with us for the rest of the way so we could make regular transfers from his fridge! I have also just spoken to Sophisitkate on the radio who are now only about 35 miles SE of us and have agreed to stay close in case we need them. We will see how today goes but it has great to know we are not alone.