Day 75 – Smooth Running

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 26 Feb 2022 14:52
Noon Position: 41 35.4 S 017 55.5 W
Course: ENE Speed: 6.5 knots
Wind: WSW, F5 Sea: moderate
Swell: SW 3 meters
Weather: cloudy, mild
Day’s Run: 150 nm (23 hours)

The wind continued to ease so that by 1700 we were beam reaching under full sail and eventually it veered into the SW so that at 0345 I could pole the jib out to starboard (and put a reef back in the main). Since then the ride has been a lot smoother which has allowed me to get a bit of rest which in turn has smoothed out my mood.
I checked the windvane self-steering yesterday afternoon and noticed that the tether to the rudder had chafed through. The tether is there in case the pin which secures the rudder to the rudder post comes loose for any reason. If it does come loose then without the tether I would lose the rudder and I have no spare. So, given the importance of the windvane to this venture, I thought it would be a good idea to replace the tether.
Now this is no easy job. With Sylph’s long narrow counter, hanging over the stern with waves constantly washing by and the top of the rudder a good foot under water most of the time, trying to thread a line through the handle at the top of the rudder is a rather awkward and potentially hazardous undertaking. As I was leaning over the stern, with more of me outboard than inboard, I noticed that a bolt securing the starboard strut to the hull was loose. Bother! But I was actually quite pleased as I felt that discovering this loose bolt was the knock on effect of taking care of problems as they arise, rather than putting them off.
It didn’t take too long to tighten the bolt, something I will be checking on more regularly, but fishing the line through the rudder was a rather wet exercise. Initially I tried to wait for the top of the rudder to emerge from a wave before attempting to push the replacement tether through (as the dear reader would no doubt be aware, rope is designed to be pulled not pushed so this was a somewhat frustrating activity); however, after several futile attempts I decided I was just going to have to get wet. I half immersed myself into the waves to get the rope through the hole, hanging on as best I could with one foot hooked under the pushpit lifeline. However, once fully committed, the job was soon done and I am pleased that the tether is back in place. If the rudder does come loose, it will be a bit of nightmare job getting it back on the rudder post, most likely I would have to go for swim to do it, but at least with the tether attached I will have that option.
Another little job I noticed while getting up close and personal with the transom was a bolt securing a pushpit strut to the deck had come loose. Fortunately, this was a much simpler and drier job to replace.
On a long voyage like this, truly constant vigilance is required to identify things going wrong before they become a major issue. I do my best.
This forenoon I took the opportunity with the better weather to give myself a haircut and a wash in the cockpit. No doubt the haircut is a bit of a shocker and washing from a bucket of cold saltwater is a bit on the brisk side, but I certainly feel a lot better for it.
Advanced ship’s clocks one hour to time zone +1.
All is well.