Sorting Out the Problems

We returned to Royal Cape YC with three problems: 1) tear in the yankee, 2) alternator not charging and 3) cockpit GPS not working. You'd think with all the work we'd just done and the systems checks we'd made before departure, we'd have discovered all the problems in advance. That's not the way it works on a sailboat though. When she hasn't been sailing in a while, rigor mortis sets in, and things just stop working. Connectors corrode, wires get brittle, parts seize … mainly from lack of use in a salt-water environment. The malfunctions are usually discovered once we're at sea. We were aware of a small tear in the yankee sail caused by the break in the furler foil. We'd gotten a quote from the local sailmaker, but he was backed up and couldn't make the repair before our visas expired. We didn't have time to wait, so we repaired it ourselves with the thought of getting a more permanent repair in Luderitz. We obviously thought we'd done a good job, but evidently not and now we were paying the price. We were in touch with the sailmaker again. He took a look at it, now in worse condition than he'd originally seen it. Though he could repair it, he recommended a whole new sail … 4-6 weeks. We've had so many problems with this yankee, we've decided a new sail is probably the most prudent course. We ordered it from Ullman Sails (formerly Quantum) with the condition that they complete it in less than three weeks … not longer. They agreed to put our sail on the fast track. They've already picked up the old sail, as well as taken measurements. One problem handled.

torn sail

David is sorting out the alternator problem. It's nothing obvious … not a loose wire nor a pulley belt issue. We only know that the batteries aren't being charged when the engine is running. More investigation is required. You'll be hearing more about that in the next day as he troubleshoots the alternator.


The GPS problem is probably due to a corroded connector since it sits in the cockpit all the time. It also requires more investigation. We have several other GPSs aboard, but this is our back-up and we want it functioning when we leave.

In the meantime, we're tied up once again in Berth B25 at the Royal Cape Yacht Club, whinging and moaning and trying to get our heads around being back in port instead of en route to Lüderitz. Updates to follow.

frustrated homer