The Blue View - What Broke?

Cocos Keeling to Rodrigues Island

As of Rodrigues Island, our Indian Ocean passage is almost 2/3rds done. We've sailed about 3400 nm since leaving Geraldton, and have about 1900 nm miles to go. This last leg, 13.5 days from Cocos Keeling to here, had its good days and bad – like most passages. And like most passages, the list of repairs and things needing attention grew quite long.

People who don't live on boats or make offshore passages often wonder why so many things break on a passage. Don't we keep Nine of Cups up at all? I think a reasonable analogy might be a 45-foot motor home, one that you drive continually, 24 hours a day, for weeks on end, half on paved roads and half on rough 4wd roads. Every few hours, use a fire hose to spray gallons of saltwater over the dashboard and instruments. Maybe once every few weeks, use the same fire hose to spray the entire interior with saltwater. Continue this for 14-15 years for a total of 800,000 miles, the rough equivalent of putting 80,000 nm on a boat, and no matter how well you maintain your motor home, things will stop working.

So what broke so far on this last leg? Here's my list:

  • Stove gimbal: When at sea, the galley stove is supported by two large pins, one on the left side and one on the right side of the stove. As the boat heels and rolls, the stove rotates on the pins, and the cooking surface stays mostly horizontal – keeping the soup in the pan and the pan on the stove. Each gimbal pin is held in place by a bolt through the side of the stove. Every once in awhile, one of the bolts works loose, causing the gimbal pin to fall off, and the stove to drop down on one side, which is what happened on this passage. The bolt is difficult to get to inside the stove, even after partially disassembling the stove. In addition, the original bolt dropped down inside the space between the oven and the stove outer wall and was lost. This repair couldn't wait until we were in port. I found a bolt with the right thread, cut it off to make it the right length and, using lots of thread lock, bolted the gimbal back on.
  • Pan bungees; We mount our cooking pans on the wall opposite the stove. When at sea, we keep them from swinging and banging into the wall, passing crew and each other with lengths of bungee cord. The bungee cords are getting a bit stretched out and need replacing. Add to the list.


pan bungees


  • Reefing pendants: The whipping on several of the reefing pendant lines need to be renewed. Add to the list.
  • Ignition Switch: One of the big waves that washed into the cockpit shorted out the engine ignition switch. The switch is located behind a plexiglass window, and is a watertight marine switch, but apparently enough moisture over the years has made its way into the switch to short out the internal contacts. I replaced it temporarily with a breaker switch until we can get a permanent replacement.
  • Portable cockpit GPS: Our small backup GPS in the cockpit stopped working. It turned out to be an easy fix – one of those big waves knocked me into the breaker panel next to the Nav station, and I inadvertently switched the breaker for the cockpit outlets to the off position. Marcie noticed the GPS wasn't working on one of her night watches, and I tracked it down the next day.
  • Windgen: Our wind generator takes a beating on passages. On this one, the tailpiece that acts as a rudder to keep the blades facing into the wind broke in half – probably due to fatigue from vibration and sun exposure after all these years. I have a spare located under the forward berth – but in a place not easy to get to while the boat is pitching and rolling. I made a temporary replacement out of plywood, but it will need to be properly repaired. Add to the list.


temporary windgen repair


  • Sailslide: The webbing that attaches the top sailslide to the mainsail has chafed through. Add to the list.
  • Stove burners: The flame height for some of the stove burners seems lower than normal. I have to periodically clear the carbon that builds up in the burner jets. Add to the list.
  • Cockpit VHF: We have a VHF radio located below at the Nav station, and a remote mic and speaker in the cockpit. The latter, as well as its cable and connector are waterproof, but with time and enough seawater dousings, the remote stops working. The life expectancy of the remote seems to be 1-3 years, depending on the conditions we find ourselves sailing in. This time, the contacts in the “waterproof “ connector have corroded. I have a spare cable and mic, ready to install. Add to the list.


cockpit vhf


  • Cockpit 12v outlet: The 12volt outlet we use to keep the iPad charging while underway is corroded and no longer useable. I made a temporary hard wire connection which will hopefully last until I can make a more permanent fix. Add to the list.
  • Water leak over galley counter: We noticed a lot of water making its way down to the galley counter when the seas are high. Cups has a number of wires that lead from the engine room up behind some lockers to the galley counter, then through a conduit to a locker in the cockpit. When we take waves over the cockpit, water makes its way into the locker and down through the conduit. The conduit used to have a glob of modeling clay stuffed in the top to make it somewhat watertight, but when I was tracking down the source of the leak, I saw the glob of clay sloshing around with all the water in the cockpit locker. I need to figure out a better method of keeping the water out. Add to the list.


BVWhatBroke CableConduit


  • Stainless: The stainless steel fittings, stanchions, poles and hardware are overdue for a thorough polishing and waxing. Add to the list.


BVWhatBroke Stainless


  • iPad: Our backup iPad, went flying across the saloon, ricocheted off the galley sink, and ended up in a puddle of seawater on the galley floor after the big wave hit us. It is housed in a rubber-like case, and while it is still mostly functional, the GPS no longer works – making it somewhat less useful for navigation. Add repair or replace iPad to the list.

There should be plenty of time to take care of most of the repairs – assuming Marcie doesn't want to do any sightseeing while in Rodriques. Let the negotiations begin.