Days 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Cara of the South - Westward Ho!
Gary O'Grady
Wed 30 Nov 2022 10:37
For some reason my blogs did not go through so here they are. Also I think they didn't go through due to photos attached so I've sadly bad to remove these. There were some great whale shots.

Day 2 - More Steering Problems

The weather today was pretty rough for us still but is now calming. We had another steering issue in that the tiller pin that the auto pilot needs to steer came loose. When the auto pilot was lifted to make a repair the pin cam with it and promptly fell down the scupper and went off to sea. This makes the auto pilot inoperable. We managed to fashion a new pin from a 10mm bolt by bolting it in place, angle grinding off its head and thread then filing it smooth and its as good as new but probably better. We managed to do all this without stopping. I hand steered whilst Larry got handy with the angle grinder. Still no cooking on board but will do soon when the seas calm. During the night I was violently thrown across the cockpit (not by Larry) and was pulled up and my safety tether and then slammed in to a
winch so I now have a very painful side, making pulling ropes or lifting very painful. No ribs are fractured as I can breath without pain, just a muscle injury.

Day 3 - Nothing broken for 24 hours

The wind and sea state are a lot calmer now and it is quite pleasant on board as we are not being thrown around so much. The boat is still a bit messy with water bottles and food, clothes etc everywhere but that's a job for today to re-stow and make sure they don't explode from every locker and storage place. We saw another competitor today, the first since the start day. It was a 40' catamaran called Beluga who should have been near the Cape Verde islands by now. At night now we reduce sail so there is no night time panics to get the sails down quickly if the weather picks up and also gives us more opportunity for uninterrupted sleep. Tomorrow the astro navigation starts as the boat is not so bumpy and wobbly I should be able to get a sun sight. For dinner we had a vegetable salad and chicken in a white wine sauce, the first cooked meal since the start.

Day 4 - Killer Whale Encounter (but false ones)

Katy had yet another whale encounter but of the false kind, The False Killer Whale often mistaken for a real orca which we already know so well from Portugal. A pod of maybe 20 or 30 surrounded the boat off the bow, starboard and port side with 3 following very closely behind the stern underwater. Completely peaceful and they left after about 15 minutes. So far we have covered about 450 miles of 2800 approx. which is a little ahead of schedule but the sea can easily change plans. Sailing boats don't have an ETA, only a destination. The nearest land for us now is the Sahara Desert so I think we'll push on.

We're having to save on electricity as due to the nature of the swells the auto pilot is working far more than usual so we are having to make some cut backs, one of which is changing the Garmin tracking to 4 hourly rather than every ten minutes which saves quite a bit of power plus have turned off a load of screens we don't need. Will actually be a nice break from the screens.

Larry has ingeniously repaired and improved the auto pilots so we are a bit more confident in their ability now. Worst case scenario we steer ourselves which we do a lot of anyway but maybe not this distance.

Day 5 - Butter has melted

We finally made the turn westwards and will stay on this course for nearly 3 weeks. Unfortunately the events of the first day are haunting us still. My ribs may be fractured so am having to manage on pain killers now, only Annadin though which takes the edge off it. We do have far stronger pain killers but these are only for real emergencies and used under guidance of TMAS (Tele Medical Advise Service). This is a UK coastguard medical emergency advise line with a doctor available for mariners 24 hours a day over the phone. Also the 2 broken auto pilots still need fixing proper but we have one up and running ok but they keep needing ongoing repairs. I remember saying to the World Cruising Club Director Jeremy Wyatt, after the skippers briefing, that if we can survive the first 24 hours we should be
ok. I knew they would be difficult but with our added bounty of problems its a wonder we're still at it!

We've strangely crossed paths twice now within a couple of miles with a 40' cat called Beluga. As we were heading south they were heading east and now as we were heading west they were heading due south. What is surprising about these encounters, 2 days apart, is why are they going so slow? I can only guess they have some problems and are heading maybe to Cape Verde.

We're not eating a lot on this trip, no idea why so had to ditch our carrots today which went rotten very quickly. All other fresh food still good.

Day 6 - Lost all Power

I noticed in the morning that the batteries weren't charging and we couldn't figure out why. They were get some charge from the solar panels and wind vane but not the engine. We spent many hours on this via text messages with our electrician in Cowes. Our sat phone too has also packed up. It only dies this when its absolutely needed. It seems to be the alternator and we do have a spare on bosrd but we cannot get the pulley wheel off the old alternator so will need to head to Cape Verdes to get shoreside help. The unfortunate thing about this plan is they are 250 miles south and we will have to hand steer and also with no chart plotter.

Day 7 - Still plugging away

So we started at about 18:00 yesterday hand steering taking one hour turns and we are now totally exhausted and only half way. Just another 130 miles to go now.

Day 8 - Land Ho!

Finally we see the Cape Verde Islands after 2 days staring at the bulkhead compass keeping on a course of 180 degrees. I think this first beer will taste pretty good.

Day 9 Tuesday- Organise the repairs

We met the repair team who will come on board tomorrow. They have about 30 boats ahead of Katy at the moment so they are a busy team. Not a lot to do here except wait.
16 53.24N 24 59.45W