Getting closer to home ...and then this

Pearl of Persia
Andrew Lock
Thu 15 May 2014 11:30
Lat 36:07.3N Long 14:36.1W
Every boat has a silent crew member that is invaluable to the running of the
boat. Ours is affectionately called George. He sits quietly and unseen
when we are in a marina or at anchor but works nonstop when we are at sea.
For most of the time he steers the boat whilst we either sleep, eat or
relax. He requires no food, sleep or entertainment, just the occasional
health check which is routinely carried out. Well after over 30,000 miles of
hard work, George finally decided that he had had enough. We were sitting
in the cockpit, relieved at last that the heavy seas and 25 knot winds had
dropped and feeling comfortable for the first time in 2 days when there was
an awful screeching and grinding noise from the depths of the boat. Andrew
shot up and said 'steering', switched off the auto helm and the noise
stopped. First fears abated, that there was a catastrophic failure of the
steering mechanism, which would have put us adrift unable to make any
progress. Andrew went down into the aft lazarette where all the boat
steering mechanism is, and found that the arm of the auto helm, which pushes
the ruder one way and then the other to steer, was the culprit. It had
basically chewed itself to pieces. I had visions of hand-steering the boat
for the last 3 days between us. This is hard work and even though it is
possible, it's not a pleasant thought. With three of us it would mean 2
hour shifts all through the day and night. However as usual Andrew is his
calm way produced a spare part from the depths of the boat and within an
hour he had replaced George senior with George junior. The collective sigh
of relief was audible a long way across the ocean. We were 'back in