Position: Alongside Kagoshima
As was perhaps apparent from yesterday's blog entry, last night I retired not a little concerned with what I was going to do about Sylph's steering system. It seemed to me that whatever the solution might be it was going to be troublesome. As I pondered the problem in amongst my dreams I came to the conclusion that, given the way the system was set up, there was one logical place of attack, a bracket sitting immediately under the steering pedestal. I figured what I needed to do was to unbolt it, drill the holes out so that I could slide the bracket forward about a centimeter, thereby tensioning the loose chain, then re-tighten the bolts and seal the holes.
Thus, this morning, after breakfast and a little bit of painting, I donned my grubby greasy clothes and once more disappeared into Sylph's bowels under the cockpit. I shone my torch upon the bracket that I had meditated on in my sleep, cleaned away some rust and grease and . . . was quite astonished to see that the bracket had been made with some oblong holes in it so as to be able to tension the chain in exactly the manner in which I had awoken to in the middle of the night. It seems the builders of Sylph had solved my problem long ago, some fifty five years before I had even come to consider it! I was close to elation. I sprayed liberal amounts of WD40 over the bolts and started to undo them, and was again pleasantly surprised to find that they all came off without much of a fight. I had visions of having to cut them off with an angle grinder after all these years, but they were actually in pretty good shape seeing as I had not touched them in the time that I have owned Sylph, getting on to sixteen years now. I find it rather extraordinary that I have now owned Sylph for almost a third of her existence. I guess I am coming to the conclusion that she and I are going to be a pair for the foreseeable future, until one of us, or perhaps both of us, ceases to exist. Hopefully, together, we have a few miles left to sail yet.
Anyway, as I was saying, I got the bolts off, replaced them with some stainless bolts, tensioned the chain, tightened the bolts, and, hey presto, the steering system now all seems to be working as it should. I feel very relieved, but I shall be monitoring the system closely for the next few weeks until I am confident that the bracket is not going to slip again. This early success in the day allowed me to get on with the other job I had started, the replacement of one of the windows. The window in question had a crack in it and while the crack was too fine to allow water into the boat, it was weeping into the join between the window and the coach house and causing some corrosion. On pulling the window off I was pleased to discover that the corrosion was only superficial and it was not much work to de-rust and preserve the steel. Today I cut out a new window from some acrylic I had purchased back in Cairns for the job. Once this window has been replaced I only have six more to go.
And another piece of good news is that this afternoon I received an email (via my nice new mobile wi-fi) from the Maritime Bureau of the Department of Transport advising me that the permit for the next leg of our voyage has been approved and is ready for collection. So that is tomorrow's mission; after a little more painting, I will go into the city to collect it. In all, I would have to say that it has been a very satisfying day.
All is well.