Mystery solved - provisionally

Nick Mines
Sun 29 Nov 2015 10:56

13 46.923N 052 18.090W

Sunday 29th November 2015

Standing on the bathing platform yesterday, changing the hydrogenerator propeller, my feet were regularly swamped as the breaking swells swept through and I was struck by how warm the water was, 25.2 degrees. We all receive Emails from home and it is hard to imagine the cold weather and the shops full of Christmas tat.

The bilge water conundrum begins to crystallise after the early morning inspection showed a modest amount. We had not operated the generator so time to run it and check again. Perversely there were larger quantities of water despite having checked all the connections, sea cocks and pipes…….. While examining the area yet again, we discovered the culprit. I had installed a very high volume emergency bilge pump positioned next to the generator. I had run the pipework up to the highest level before exiting above the water line. Normally this is absolutely fine but when we plunge into the biggest troughs with the swell towering over us, healing with the sea up to the gunwales, the pressure forces water up and over the loop and therefore into the bilge through the pump.

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Ironic that the kit designed to save us in the event of flooding, was causing the flooding. The solution was simple, just turn off the outlet sea cock, we just have to remember to open it in the event of an emergency!

Later in the afternoon, the seas built still further and the auto, although doing a sterling job, was struggling with the inevitable yawing as the swells picked up the stern and swept through, we were steering a series of ‘S’ bends. The advantage of the twin Yankee rig (we can’t use now because of the bent bow sprit bracket) is that both sails are pulling evenly from the bow. The main and poled out jib means that the main is pushing from the mast and trying to turn the yacht about its fulcrum. Feeling that we would have a slightly more even distribution of sail areas, port and starboard and to minimise the turning effect, we put a reef in the main and this eased the situation. We have tended to hand steer in the squalls, reacting more swiftly to the swells as they approach in the higher wind speeds but the better balance achieved with the reefed main reduced the threat of a backed sail and all the damage that could cause.

We have not seen any other vessels for over a week now, not even on AIS. We expect this to change as we approach St. Lucia and it would be good to know we are not alone in the World.

The last 24 hours have again broken the record with a mileage of 171, that’s an average speed of over 7 knots, pretty damn good for a fat old lady! I look back ruefully at the conservative first few days when we were rather cautious, reluctant to stress the yacht or crew with so far to go………….


Stephen writes:-

Hejira Enjoys Long Passages Under Sail. Sorry about the photograph but the Master was not to be denied, and as I was replying to an email from by brother-in-law, I was in no position to voice any objections. We have been making good time in these winds and that coupled with the solution to `The Great Bilge Water Mystery` seems to have put the Master in an unrecognisable mood, could it be contentment? The crew are now confused as we have never seen him like this so we have no strategies to cope. As yesterday was Saturday we were allowed a shower so all is fragrant. The seas were too lumpy for fishing so nothing to report on this front. We were visited by a Northern Gannett (Sulsa  bassana) in the late afternoon who seemed determined  to show off his/her flying skills and did a little wave dance across the surface of the sea, quite amazing. The Master rustled up a curry for supper and we celebrated with a beer. The night watch was spent under a bright waning moon and apart from the now obligatory raid on the Master`s chocolate stash, was uneventful. When the time arrived to raise the Master for his watch the electronic front door bell which he had brought up from his apartments proved inadequate, however a chorus of `Once a Jolly Swagman` gave him the necessary jolt and I retreated to my berth and was thrown around for a few hours but fortunately was saved a `face plant` on the deck below by the lee cloth.

Crew getting a bit of a battering from colliding with Hejira but no broken bones.


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Bob writes:-

The photograph of the skipper captures it perfectly! The Noel Coward look!

Other more or less notable issues that spring to my mind:

·         The Doc decided not to challenge the Atlantic yesterday, so its stocks may breath a sigh of relief (is that a gill full?)

·         The massive hunt for the bilge water source has possibly concluded. Only today’s obligatory bilge inspection will actually confirm this.

·         The number of the skipper’s ‘happy moments’ is inversely proportional to the depth of water in the bilge.

·         The skipper confirmed that he is indeed a ‘Grand Master Anorak’ when he presented the night watch crew with a remote control bell!!!! Clearly he does not enjoy the Doc’s entreaties to get out of his pit, and hoped that the bell would do the trick. Come the time for the skipper’s watch, the Doc’s dirty digit depressed the dinger. Absolutely no response! Back to the singing!

·         The Doc and I have seen an opportunity regarding the bell. We have commissioned Bazzer to see if the unit can be modified with two electrical leads and crocodile clips to deliver a spectacularly high voltage to parts of the skipper’s body when the button is pressed. I have had to defer to the Doc’s advice on the exact location of application as he says that we don’t want excessive scarring (mental and physical).


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Barry is wistfully gazing at the horizon.