Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 19 Nov 2008 21:51
November 19, 2008

Noon Position: 34 22.8 N 060 07.5 W

Course: Southeast 2 knots

Wind: West. Strong breeze

Weather: Overcast, showers, mild.

Day's Run: 73 miles

My voyage south is definitely not meant to be. We had been punching our way into some large seas and had fallen quite heavily off a few of them but nothing Sylph hasn't handled many times before. I had been reading and got up to look around and saw water swilling around the galley area with some large flakes of rust in amongst it. I immediately suspected the worse, that the pounding had loosened a rusty
section of hull and I had a hole with lots of water coming in. I
checked the bilge and sure enough water was getting close to the floor boards.
I don't recall ever having had this much water in the boat before,
especailly that suddenly. I switched on the bilge pump, activated the EPIRB, and started preparing the life raft. I didn't mess around, I threw cushions, boards and canvas that were on top of the life raft straight over the side. Then I dropped all sail so as to stop the pounding and reduce any pressure on the hull, then I made the call via the satphone to Mary and asked to contact the police, tell them my position and situation. I put a PAN call out on the VHF radio (no response) then got back to looking
after the boat. I started using the manual bilge pump as well which I was
pleased to see was working OK. I tried to start the engine to ensure the
batteries were charged up but initially with no success. It soon became
obvious that the electric bilge pump was easily keeping up so I felt a lot
calmer, the heart rate slowed a little and I continued trying to start the
engine which eventually I got going. Not sure why it didn't start but
suspect that the boat's motion might have stirred some sediment up in the
As for the leak, I am pretty sure I know where it is, the only trouble is
the area is pretty well inaccessible without demolishing part of the boat.
The weather is forecast to get rougher over the next few hours so I am going
to leave well enough alone for now. Hopefully tomorrow it will have calmed
down a bit and I can get sailing again and try and dismantle some of the
furniture to get at the leak.
The Bermuda Coast Guard has contacted me and know where I am and my
situation (thank you Mary) and for now I am going to call them every few hours to keep them abreast of my situation. I have reviewed my grab bag and put Bob Cat's carry cage together in case we need to take to the life raft. I hope not, when I was seriously contemplating this eventuallity I really didn't like the look of that option at all.
Well I guess that pretty much confirms my plans for Sylph, as long as I can
get her back to the States OK.

Bob Cat:

The skipper was looking a little flustered a while ago, it sure is bumpy out here. The food isn't getting any better either. Bookstore, Bookstore, Bookstore! Zzzzzzzz.

All is well.