The long and winding road! 33:42.00N 07:23.00W

Ceilidh of Lorne
Dave Sturrock
Fri 16 Nov 2012 12:37
After steady if unspectacular progress on a course of 230M with a slightly variable S’ly breeze of F3, Celidh’s progress was suddenly interrupted at 16:30 yesterday when the wheel steering system failed.
This meant quickly easing the sails as we had absolutely no steerage and connecting the emergency tiller on deck.
This is not really designed to steer for a long period as there is no gearing and the tiller goes aft not forward.
However it had a 6 hour workout under engine and headsail only as we made for the nearest harbour with some yacht facilities which was Mohammedia some 15 Nm North of Casablanca on the Morroccan coast.
We took shifts of 30minutes each to helm while the other partner stood by the throttle and kept watch.
The conditions were fortunately very good with only a slight Westerly swell to trouble us.
However it was extremely difficult to steer a an accurate course and it was with some relief that we dodged fishing vessels and many thankfully lit danbouys to pass the harbour breakwater at 22;30.
We made for the yacht pontoons and were able to find an outside berth stern too with our anchor down, again not so easy to manoeuvre alongside.
We had a surprising quick visit within 10minutes of berthing when the representatives of the local police, immigration and customs all came onboard to complete formalities. However they were very jovial and completed their tasks within 15 minutes letting us have dinner and then retire to bed to plan our latest repair.
First thing this morning we made contact with the Mohammedia Yacht Club who have been extremely helpful and they quickly arranged to have  a technichian onboard.
At the time of writing it has been found that the linkage chain which connects both wheels and the autohelm had parted and this is in process to be repaired.
I have also contacted Hanse UK who are arranging delivery of a new chain drive from Jefa to be delivered to Las Palmas.
Unfortunately the overriding emotion once you have had a total failure like this is will it happen again?
Also what if this had happened during any of the big seas we have experienced on the trip so far, we would not have been able to steer Ceilidh without assistance that iks for sure.
Assuming repairs go well and we can test the system we will continue South tomorrow when the SW wind should back to NW giving us a downwind reach again.
Looks like there will be a few more jobs on the list for our ARC team arriving at Las Palmas on Monday!
Dave Sturrock