Update from Gerry 25th April 2013

25 Apr 2013

16th April
After I completed my report that afternoon, the wind rose to force 5 (NE / ENE), so I went down below to do some work on the chart.  Suddenly, the boat was shaking; I had no idea what was happening and rushed back to the cockpit to discover the self steering wind vane pivot shaft was broken in half.  It could not possibly be repaired or welded, as it needed to be replaced with a new one, leaving me with one autopilot left to run the boat.
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18th April
Up early with the sunrise – a cloudless day, bit colder.  The sea was relatively calm with an easterly wind.  Got an email from Robert from Autofreeze in Cambuslang, telling me Garmin had emailed him asking him to tell me to reset it (I did this with Karalyn from Australia, who then communicated with Garmin).  No luck this time – the chart plotter was still not working, cut off for no reason.  I carried on trying to think of a solution, but it looked as if this is going to be impossible.

Decided to have an early afternoon meal – baked potato with tuna fish, onion and baked beans, washed down with coffee.

By 1818 GMT that afternoon (1518 my time) I had another email from Robert, passing on an email from Garmin in England, which said:

“First of all get him to unplug everything from GPSmap 4012 plotter, to see if stays on, if stays on, then get him to systematically plug things back in to see what it is that is forcing it to turn off.

I prayed to God that it would work – this was my last chance!

1945 GMT– The chart plotter had never cut off since then – I kept looking at it, realising it might be working, but decided to wait a bit longer.

2145 GMT – A half moon was right above my head.  I had a magnificent view of it and its wide reflection in the ocean.  The chart plotter was still coming on and had not cut off.

19th April
0330 GMT (0030 my time) – Torrential rain was blowing hard; changed from genoa to the inner forestay, then wind dropped to 0.4 knots.  The chart plotter was still working – I am sure it is going to carry on working until I arrive home.  I had a wonderful sleep earlier this evening; I was woken by the vibrations from the sails.
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0800 GMT – Sunrise – I put my fleece jacket on for the first time, as it was getting colder.  The sea was calm again.  At 0500 my time, I decided to bake a loaf of bread – what a smell there was, filling the whole room.  I looked forward to having it with some hot soup and pasta with sauce.
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By 1800 GMT, it was calm, without a gust of wind.  The sea swelled and rolled gently and the sun came out; it was warm for 3 more days in the Azores.  That evening as the sun went down, for the first time, I saw the sun reflected in the sea inside my boat, shining on the ceiling through the porthole.

20th April
By 0600 GMT (0300 my time), there was thunder and lightning over to the east, somewhere near Madeira.  I then felt a funny thudding vibration.  Wondering what it was, I put my hands on both sides of the hull (inside it) to feel where the vibration was coming from.  There was nothing and I couldn’t think what it was, so I went out to the cockpit, switched on a torch and looked around the deck.  Again, there was nothing out of order; I checked both sides of the hull, which seemed OK to me.  I decided to go back to sleep, but it happened again; thud, thud.   Again, I felt around the ceiling to see if I could locate or identify it, but again there was nothing, as the sea was calm.

After trying for a while, I fell asleep.  Then, there was more thudding!  I could tell that there were two different kinds of vibration; I knew one was the sail flapping, but could not tell what the other one was.  I got up from my bunk and started to feel around for the vibration all over again.  I could feel it under the forward bow, although it was gentle, so I moved nearer to the mast area, where I could feel thuds.  Wondering what it was, I went outside to check again.  This time, it was dark and I couldn’t see anything wrong, so decided to go back to sleep and leave it until daylight came.

Back on my bunk again, I wrapped up warm.  I was fast asleep until a loud bang landed on the coach roof!  I nearly had a heart attack, thinking a meteor must have landed on my boat.  I rushed out, only to discover that the radar had broken off the Scanstrut bracket from near the top of the mast and landed on my portside.
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21st April
592 miles to go to the Azores: by 1030 GMT, many cloud fronts had passed us, making terrible torrential rain; the wind kept rising very fast and then going back down.  Still sailing close hauled, by 1640, a cargo ship, Legiony Polskie, had come directly towards my boat and was within 7 miles away.  I kept an eye on this ship, and by 1740 she had sailed past, within 1.8 miles – I was glad that was over.

1800 –at least 3 or 4 cloud fronts must have passed us; it has been hell today with wind and rain.  It was very uncomfortable as waves went right over the coach roof and the wind rose fast to 34 knots.

22nd April
For most of the day, we sailed hard and close hauled, making good speed - 7 to 10 knots - with inner forestay, No 2 mainsail, wind angle of 60/65.   By evening, I discovered that the No 2 mainsail reef on the leech had broken, so I had to take it down and replace it with another shackle and pull it up, in heavy seas with a wind of 30 knots.

23rd April
Altered course to the east, to avoid the storm north of the Azores.  I have roughly 1770 miles left to Troon.  ETA 11 to 14 days – depending on the wind.

Kay was telling me how successful the fundraising event at Deaf Connections was last Saturday.  I’d like to say many thanks to those who have supported this project!

Also, I could not believe my eyes when I found out that my close mate Erelend Tulloch, who also organised the fundraising event, was willing to have his hairy chest waxed in order to raise money as well..!  I don’t think I could hear his screaming, but I suspect his lungs travelled across the ocean, so no wonder my radar collapsed!!  Ereland, I hope you survived that very painful waxing – personally, I’d rather be on the Southern Oceans!
 
I’ll never forget what happened back in 1982 when Erelend and I were on a Westerly Longbow yacht, 'Faraway ll’, which belonged to my dad.  We sailed right up to Barra by rounding the Mull of Kintyre, and then up to Stornoway to meet fishermen who gave us tons of frozen fish for our supper.  Then, we sailed right up to the Faroe Islands and ended up getting stuck there, as fog was surrounding us.  Back then, we didn’t have any visual aids, shipping forecasts, electronic chart plotters, radar or wind speed gear.  So, we decided to go and sail away for the capital of the Faroes in fog, following an echo sounder and routes to the open sea, where there were many rocks.

I’ll never forget how we sailed slowly, carrying a fog horn and feeling the mist on our faces, waiting for the open sea.  I’d say we were at least 5 miles away from the shore, when all of sudden, the fog disappeared and we were presented with an almighty blue, cloudless sky!  We were so happy and pulled up, full sail ahead right down back to Scotland, passing Skye, Mull, and then down the Crinan Canal back to Troon.  That was a very good summer of sailing.

So, many thanks, Erelend, and also to other people such as Joseph Sheridan, my wife Kay’s brother, and to Kay herself.  Thank you, Deaf Connections, for giving them the opportunity – I appreciate it very much.