Crossing the Indian Ocean - Mauritius to Durban Days 15 & 16

to durban days 15 and 16

Day 15

Miles to go: 239 nm

It's been a whopper of a 24 hours. Seas have been ferociously high in the 20' range and the winds have remained steady in the mid-30s, with gusts to the 40s, and both on the nose. Nine of Cups has been tossed and thrashed and pummeled and she's really taken some licks.

After a huge wave crashed over the bow, we heard a clanging forward that sounded like the anchor in distress ... not something that could wait till later despite the wretched conditions on deck. David always lashes the anchor tightly in place when we're on a passage, so something had definitely gone afoul. The lashing had chafed through. The intensity of the wave had yanked the anchor out of the chain stopper and our 80 lb anchor was hanging over the bow roller, banging violently against the bow. The shackle had slipped down the groove in the stock and the stock was now bent. Through sheer luck and persistence, David was able to slip the shackle back in place while hanging precariously over the side of the bow pulpit. He wrangled the anchor into position while Marcie engaged the windlass into action and we got it back aboard and secured into place again. We were soaked and freezing cold by the time we got back below.

Totally unrelated, David noticed a short time later that the indicator light for the fresh water pump was on and we weren't drawing any water. He wasn't sure for how long, but we subsequently found the starboard tank was empty. Bummer! A leak in the system somewhere, but conditions aboard were certainly not conducive to sussing out where. He shut off the pressure and will deal with it when the seas calm a bit. In the meantime,the port tank is still full and we can use the foot pump.

Oh, yes, and the wind gen tail is coming apart again. Go figure ... 35 knot winds and it's having a problem? Wuss!

And .... sigh ... My teakettle went airborne off the counter and ended up on the galley sole, water everywhere and big dents in its side ... battle scars. Perhaps, after nearly 20 years, it's time for new one.

All this and the most bothersome thing today? A miserable, incessant, niggling drip of water that emanates somewhere above the sea berth and finds just the right angle to fall and splat on our faces while we're trying to sleep. It's not regular ... about once very 4-5 minutes when the waves crash overhead. Chinese water torture. Grrr!

Day 16

Miles to go: 96 nm

So much for a very short-lived celebration and respite. As we get nearer Durban, Neptune is challenging us in a big, big way. As I was sitting in the cockpit this morning on my morning watch, sipping my cuppa, thinking all was right with the world, sailing along at 7 knots, the sails suddenly started luffing. It wasn't just a wave putting them off the wind, it was something more. The autopilot wasn't working. I switched to stand-by and manual steering, but the rudder did not respond.

About that time, David poked his head up. “What's up?” No steering ... and it wasn't the hydraulics. He headed aft, lugged our Franken-mattress off the bunk and dove under the berth to figure out what was going on. One of the bolts securing the steering quadrant had sheered off!

The sails were complaining in a big way. I tried to haul in the jib. The furling line was fouled. Evidently during the anchor drama, the anchor had hit the bottom of the furler guide cage and bent it. As we let out the jib after that, the line had fouled and now I couldn't get it in or let it out. As I headed from the bow back to tell David the bad news, a wave knocked me off balance and I fell into the dodger. Loose stitching gave way. One thing at a time. We let Cups self-steer close on the wind and went to sort out the steering quadrant issue.

We hauled out the emergency tiller and I kept the rudder in place while David finessed the rest of the broken bolt out. We were lucky it was accessible and came out as easily as it did. We found a replacement and with much persistence, got the steering quadrant back in place and the hydraulic pump purring again. Phew! Now to tackle the jib furler.

The guide cage for the jib furler was totally wrecked and the furling line was jammed tight. Once again, David's patience willed out and after over an hour of tugging, prodding and prying the furler line, we got it free. The cage needed to be removed, but the screws were seized tight. David managed to hack saw it apart, withstanding the waves on the bow. The jib was useable again, but with care since there was no furler guide in place any longer. What next?

The water leak and the wind gen are waiting patiently in line for attention.

Note: the link to the teakettle is an affiliate link and would make a very nice Christmas present for the tea-lover in your life