Trip to the Canaries
As we said in the last blog we are very close to the berth we were in in 2009. However the monstrous ‘boat’ on the right of the picture wasn’t there.
The picture below shows the size of the floating 5 star hotel.
We have been busy over the past 2 days getting the boat in shape for the Canaries trip. I have fitted a new Raymarine AIS system as the previous Digital Yacht system stopped sending out our position and I couldn’t be sure that, if I bought a new GPS antenna for it this would resolve the problem. We see this feature as really important for our trip.
We were expecting engineers to come on Monday/Tuesday to repair the hydraulic part of our autopilot system. The did finally arrive, but just to say that their work for the M.O.D . had become critical and they wouldn’t be able to help us, but they did at least help me to get new hydraulic fluid. I therefore had to tackle the job myself. I first looked at emptying the system of all the contaminated fluid, starting with taking the reservoir apart. The picture below shows what was at the bottom of the reservoir container!!
I then took apart all the hydraulic pipes and cleaned them as much as I could. I replaced the Hydraulic pump with the reconditioned spare and replaced the clutch and solenoid coil which had been delivered from the UK. I then filled up the system with new fluid and flushed through a bit to do some more cleaning. I then bled the system, which was the part I wasn’t confident about. I then tested the system and lo and behold it seemed to work.
We were ready to leave by Thursday morning, except for refuelling. Early on Thursday 30th we went across to the fuel berth and filled up with 600 litres of diesel. A good job Gibraltar is cheap for marine diesel and we paid 56.6 pence per litre.
We then set off about 10.0am to catch the tide going through Gibraltar straits. We started off with good wind, although it was right behind us and it was pretty rolly. As we got closer to Tariffa point, the narrowest area, the wind picked up to over 30 knots and then the tide sudden changed direction to be against us. The tide issue didn’t last long before it turned to be in our favour again, but the winds stayed very high, although still behind us. We were seeing over 30 knots on the wind instrument and as we were doing about 7 knots, the true wind was up to 40 Knots. Because we were rolling about and crossing the busy shipping lane we were motoring so we had some control and could see what was ahead. The strong winds stayed with us into the night and then dropped away to about 6 knots. Friday was a frustrating day of motoring as we didn’t have enough wind to sail, but this was what had been forecast and at least we had a working autopilot.
During Friday night our AIS and GPS systems on the chart plotter failed and we, although we had a GPS position on our other instruments. The autopilot was still working, so it wasn’t a great problem, although being without AIS meant it was harder work keeping a look out and avoiding ships. On Saturday morning I did a bit of rewiring and got the AIS and GPS back working properly, however it meant our autopilot remote control wasn’t working anymore – a minor problem.
On Saturday we started to get good winds and set up our twin headsails and soon we were doing over 7 knots. We had a really good sail, although it was pretty rolly. On Sunday the wind picked up a bit more and at one point we recorded over 9 knots speed over the ground, before we reefed in a bit.
Later on Sunday we noticed that the bilges were filling up and we were having to run the bilge pump more than was comfortable. I checked and found that the water was coming in at the rudder stock and I tried to tighten up the stuffing box. This slightly reduced the amount of water, but it was still a worry. Susan also started to feel seasick so it was a bit stressful.
The problem continued into Monday with Susan not feeling well and sleeping a lot, although she managed to do all her shifts. We had made really good time so instead of arriving at Tenerife on Tuesday late morning as planned we actually arrived at about 1.0am. We slowed down towards the end as we had mist and rain as we approached Santa Cruz and we wanted to let this pass. We were a bit concerned about going into the marina in the dark, but it wasn’t a problem and we even got a clap from some French people on the boat next to us who were having a party. We were tied up by 2.0am Gibraltar time (1.0am Canaries time) and were having a well earned night cap or two.
We woke up to a grey day, with the fairly normal mist/cloud over the hills, but it was good to achieve another milestone. We found however that the bilges had filled up again overnight, even although we were not moving and there was no strain on the rudder. Our priority was to find someone to look at the rudder problem and get a plan on what is needed to fix the problem. This is not easy in Tenerife, but we did eventually find a company who might be able to help. We are still however waiting for the engineers to arrive to assess the problem and it now looks like tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon before they will manage. I have managed to tighten up the stuffing box a bit more and reduced to flow considerably, but it is not clear exactly where the water is coming in. The grease tube for the stuffing box is a bit broken at the bottom, so I can’t squeeze in any more grease, so this may be the main problem, but I am not sure what needs to be done to fix this.
I have rewired the links between the Chart Plotter, the GPS, the Autopilot etc. and have the system all working properly again. As usual I am not certain why there was a problem, but it is now working.
We will be working through our significant list of repairs, maintenance and provisioning, but the rudder leak is the key to whether we can keep to our schedule.