In the wee hours of the morning I did a final deck check before retiring to bed. The winds were blowing from the SE at a strong 25-30 knots so I had 2 reefs in the main sail and the no 2 jib furled half way. As I was sailing on a course of 090 True I was sailing a wing angle of close reach and I was back to living on a heal. The swell was also from the SE so I would occasionally smash off the top of a bigger wave. Everything would shudder and vibrate for a minute, then Climate Action Now would shake it off and keep sailing.
I just hopped in to bed and got all snuggled into my sleeping bag when the b and g Auto Pilot alarm started going off. The had happened a couple of times that night as a wave pushed me off course so I assumed it was just the off-course alarm and the boat would correct its self in a second or two. As the alarm kept sounding I glanced at the B and G Zeus display by my bunk and noticed that the wind angle was at 35 degrees. This should have been saying 60-70 degrees, so something wasn’t right. I was half asleep so I didn’t even look at the boats heading, but when I climbed back on deck to the controls I noticed right away that the boat was luffing up (being pulled in to the wind until the sails start to flap).
I check the auto pilot and cancelled the alarm without really looking, only to notice the auto pilot was on standby. Well that would explain why the boat was luffing up... I quickly hit the auto button again and then added -10 degrees on the buttons until I was back on course. This lasted 30 seconds, then the alarms were blaring again. I actually read the alarm this time. It was showing the no rudder indicator and that there was no rudder drive unit found... This is highly unusual. I had not seen this type of alarm before, apart from something similar a short while ago. That time all I needed to do was unplug the unit and re-connect and it started working again. I assumed that this would be a similar case and given that it was 4am in the morning I figured it could wait until I got back up. I switched over to the other auto pilot and went back below.
As I lay in bed I remembered now why I always preferred the other auto pilot. This one has somehow along the way has developed a squeak. This had become the most annoying sound on the boat making it hard to fall asleep. All I hear is, sqeeeeeeek, squeeeeeeeek, squeeeeeek in the back ground. Even the 30 knots of wind wasn’t drowning it out...
At some point I fell into a deep sleep and feel that this had been one of the most restful sleeps that I have managed yet. I possibly may have been more tired than I realized and feel like I am finally rejuvenated again after almost 10 hours in bed. I wasn’t asleep for all of that time, but the sections of sleep that I did get were good and deep.
I didn’t even re-surface until mid-afternoon. I had a few jobs to take care off and completely forgot about the auto pilot until quite late tonight. Once I finally got out the back of the boat to look at the auto pilot, it was quite apparent what the problem was. The hydraulic ram had somehow unscrewed its self from the steering quadrant. Not great but also not the end of the world. It was repairable; however, I would like to wait until some calmer conditions to approach it. It can be quite dangerous hanging oneself over moving cables and dangling your fingers around just waiting for a wave to shove you off balance... The winds are easing tomorrow and the next day, so I will tackle it then. The rest of the day has been uneventful. My manual bilge pump repair seems to be holding up quite nicely.
The decision was made to go north of South Georgia island. The risk of freezing tanks, ice on the deck and ice in the water were all too much when stacked against a week less sailing at sea. Remember, my whole mentality of this trip has been simply to finish safely and come home... So, with a firm decision in mind bob (METBob) has issued a course change today and I am now sailing NE aiming to get up to 48 degrees south so that we can sail mostly around a cold finger of water that travels north caused by the polar convergence line. If I kept sailing east I would simply end up sailing in the cold conditions that I was trying to avoid by going north of South Georgia island and we would be no better off. So, north it is. I must say that I for one am not complaining. It will hopefully warm up just a touch. The condensation on the boat is just getting worse. I will often be writing a log or doing something only to feel cold drops of water falling on my head. The worst is when it hits the back of your neck, burr...
Today ended with a great chat on radio with Ben Fordham of 2GB is Sydney. I believe that they are posting the interview on their website. I really enjoy talking to the media, mainly because it’s simply someone new to talk to and the conversations are so varied and entertaining, but also because I know that this is a great way for you all to come along on this journey with me.
I am also really looking forward to tomorrows interview back on the Saturday edition of Sky News Australia on Foxtel which will go live from the boat at 08:20 Sydney time. So if your free tune in.