Day 13: Sounds of the sea

The night was a bit uncomfortable. Imagine being in a hot confined space, where you can’t open a window because it rains every half an hour, rocking you from side to side with every wave. Not every wave is the same though, some are so high you almost fly out of bed and sometimes it calms down briefly before catching a massive wave again. With the force of these waves, everything in the boat starts making noises. The cans and plates shake around in the cupboards, the lines are banging inside of the mast, the waves are crashing against the hull, the pencils falling down and rolling around on the floor, the trash bag is banging against the wall..

But once we get outside for the night shift it turns out to be a beautiful night (with the occasional rain squall). Outside in the cockpit its much more quiet, Helmut is doing a great job and doesn’t need any help, no ships around and the moon is bright. The head sail is not giving us our full speed of course, but sailing like this is very relaxed and reefing can be done alone so I feel very much in control. Sipping from a nice tea, listening to great podcasts, got to love night sailing!

The day started with an unpleasant surprise. Helmut steered off-course all of a sudden after doing such a great job all night. Thomas inspected the hydrovane and discovered that a screw of the bottom mounting had broken and the bottom part of the hydrovane was bending off the transom. The force on the rudder is enormous and we had to take immediate action before things got worse. We turned on the autopilot and emptied the cockpit locker, where Thomas noticed that the autopilot mounting had also broken off!

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With both our steering systems down, I took to hand steering while the boys got to work in the cockpit locker. First they tightened the screws on the autopilot mechanism underneath the cockpit floor. Then Thomas crawled into the back of the boat to inspect the mounting of the hydrovane and took off the broken screw. We had to ‘heave to’ (take the speed out of the boat) shortly to remove the rudder of the hydrovane. Thomas had to get into the 5000 meter deep Atlantic to do this (OK only half of his body, he was wearing a life vest and was secured double). Thomas also closed the hole of the screw with ‘Leak Hero’ to prevent us from sinking. But don’t worry, the hole is above the water line. He also noticed that the rudder shaft is leaking water. Now we know where the water in the bilge comes from! He greased that too and then improved the autopilot mounting even more.

Safe to say Thomas had earned himself a beer today! We’re so glad we don’t have to hand steer the next days. It would have been possible but not very optimal. And we’re also very glad that this didn’t happen at night..

While we were all out on deck amidst the mess of everything that us supposed to be in the locker, we finally saw dolphins! They were really playful and jumped out of the water. There were many of them, at least 30, jumping up from the waves in groups of five or six. That was such a nice intermezzo of the maintenance work.

Basti is frying potatoes right now, he has the cooking shift today. It smells mouth watering.

Miles of the day: 153 NM

Coordinates: 13º02.34 N, 54º48.20 W

Highlight of the day: We finally saw dolphins!

Drama of the day: A broken hydrovane mounting and a broken autopilot mounting..

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