19:37.57S 169:29.79E Port Resolution, Tanna, Vanuatu
This one was rough! Big seas and 30+ knots of wind for 470-odd miles.
Early on Monday morning the skipper was woken by a loud bang and a shout
from Colin in the cockpit, "Martyn, Martyn, we've lost the rudder", "We're
all going to die". Maybe the last one was me. Maybe it was just in my head.
One of the two ships wheel was spinning and Colin was fighting the other one
while everything was bouncing around. It turned out that 'Otto', our trusty
autohelm, had broken a control wire during a particularly nasty gust. It was
impossible to repair at sea so we had to hand-steer from then on. "So what?"
I hear you say. Everyone has seen films with some unfortunate lashed to the
wheel, rounding the Horn. It needs to be said that I rarely touch the wheel
on this boat. She can be told to go in a certain direction come Hell or high
water by pressing buttons which leaves plenty of time to go below and darn
socks or whatever. Standing in the cockpit fighting a wheel through the
troughs and crests of waves is not normally what it is about these days and
the uncomplaining crew member Otto usually handles it all.
Graptolite doesn't have the best keel design to be hand-steered anyway and
in Force 7's or 8's it's not easy. Colin and I did 2-hour watches around the
clock with aching arms and shoulders wearing full wet weather gear. Another
two or three crew would have been more than useful.
Is that all? No it isn't! Our spinnaker pole (the one already snapped in the
Caribbean) broke an end-fitting and is now completely useless, the anchor
windlass and radar are still waiting on spare parts and worst of all, an old
gremlin, the salt-water cooling system on the engine died. It seems like an
old story but here we are again hurtling towards an unknown island in what
might well have been a bathtub.
The entry to Port Resolution was under sail with a few minutes of un-cooled
engine at the very end to help anchor. Port Resolution is very grandly named
after Captain Cook's ship but is in reality just a pretty inlet with only
one or two grass-roofed huts visible in the trees. A dinghy ride ashore got
us cleared-in then back to Grapto to repair the engine and then a long
sleep. It's now Tuesday evening and I'm sore but wide awake and ready to