Today's major event was a loud bang just before 1 am, yours truly was on
watch (why do these things happen on my watch?). The skipper who had been
sleeping directly below the source had a pretty good idea of the problem
before he had even thrown his clothes on. He came rushing through the boat
calling “all hands on deck”. Joe and Paul followed him up the companionway.
By torchlight we could see the portside inner forward (effectively a
babystay) hanging loose. We furled the remaining scrap of jib and eased the
main. Then Joe and Kevin went forward, the deck fitting had given way,
sheared off at the bolts, later examination showed signs of rust on the
broken edges, both bolts had been cracked for some time explaining some of
the noise there has been above our heads when in bed at sea. Cracks that
would be invisible under hand-sized ovals of 1cm thick stainless steel.
By the light of the moon the boys retied the dinghy strap which had been
fastened around the bottom of the stay and then set to work hunting out
blocks and some dynema to create a make shift fixing on the toerail. It took
less than an hour after the heartstopping bang for us to be sailing again,
the temporary fix should hold as long as the toerail remains in place and
get us to Grenada. The rig is not compromised as the baby stay is more about
sail trim than holding it up but it does make us all wonder what is under
the other fittings, a thought which we put away once we'd discussed the
impossibilty of xraying each in turn at our destination.
Through the remaining night the wind moderated to ENE or NE F3-4 though the
seas remain lumpy delivering the odd cockpit washdown. Kevin spent his 5-7am
watch thinking about potential repairs which he talked through with the
first person to appear on deck at daybreak (me). By 07:30 Joe was claiming
for double time for commencing work on a Saturday and prior to 09:00; the
skipper pointed out that in the land of work (aka the UK) it was already
09:30! Paul slept, I made tea, caught up on the nav and took some photo's
whilst the metal workshop in the cockpit hunted down bolts, nuts, tools and
drill bits. Pilot holes widened bit by bit (excuse the pun) until they'd
take the biggest bolts on board 10mm. At one point they'd had to unpack all
the storage cabin to get to the big inverter (stowed safely as the back) to
charge the drill batteries but by 15:20 the tools were away, the cockpit
swilled; job done though the emergency fitting on the toerail remains in
place just in case it is needed again over the next 1500nm.
MV Infinity called us up after lunch – our first ship since Minddelo and he
spotted us before we saw him, mainly because everyone was engrossed in
drilling holes. He was bound for Barcelona, despite his size I doubt it'll
be a pleasant trip as it is straight into both wind and 2 or 3m waves.
Meanwhile the galley slave opened the last of the refrigerated vac packs –
two failed the sniff test, the other three made one “is it lamb or is it
veal” curry and two beef stews – suppers for the next few nights.
Everything on deck facing aft is now covered in red Saharan dust that
transfers itself to everything else where it sticks due to the generous
helping of salt adhering to crew and boat. Yuk could do with some rain to
wash it down. Our noon to noon run was 172nm bringing the total since
leaving Mindelo to 525 and being a bit below the rhumb line between
waypoints I3 and I4 and close to the latter have moved on to I5 our halfway
point. It feels like we are making progress west. All well on board.