Guard Coste

Written by David Townsend

14, June 2009

Position 35°51’421N 002°13’572W

Mediterranean Sea.

Hi dear friends, thank you for following my journey. Here is this week’s update.

Getting to know the Guard Coste (Coastguard), the only constant scene would be dolphins, dolphins every day!

Life Onboard:

During my stay in Annaba I got to know the Guard Coste (Coastguard) very well, which actually paid dividends later (The Boat section).

A few days later I arrived in Algiers to bunker then off again along the coast towards Oran. With little to no wind I have had to motor more during this passage than at anytime during the last four years. My plan was to see how the fuel was holding out when off Oran, if low then I would stop their to bunker. As it happened I think I have enough to make Gib (Gibraltar) without any more stops however Algeria was not going to let me go that easy, About 8Nm off the port of Oran I spotted a vessel drifting, extracts from the ships log follow.


Passage day 13

Friday 12th June 2009

12:36hrs (GMT) position 035°58‘948N 000°34‘774W spotted a small white boat around 4 – 5m in length, around twenty people onboard. People everywhere, in any available space and more!

Unable to contact the Guard Coste, I called the Port of Oran to relay a message for me advising them of the situation. After a short while the reply came for me to keep a watch on them, ‘not to assits’ in any way, two warships were on their way.

13:45hrs (GMT) overflown by spotter aircraft, a few minutes later the unmistakable silhouette of a warship broke the horizon. Within minutes it arrived on the scene. Unable to contact the warship on the V.H.F. I waited for them to contact me. At 14:10hrs (GMT) they called me, thanking me for my assistance and asking me to carry on my voyage. Covered 106Nm, GPS reset.


The following few days returned to normal onboard as I continue my passage west.

The Boat:

Two problems this week;

The first one was really bazar, the autopilot bracket that I had made up in Yemen failed. I did not noticed it before however as soon as I departed the quay in Annaba I noticed the autopilot was not responding to commands. A quick check and all seemed okay, that was until I opened the starboard quarter locker and noticed the liner arm just laying there! I used the autopilot last when arriving in Annaba around 50 metres out from the berth as I set the fenders to the right height. It must have failed as Pinta came alongside.

Once back alongside an Algerian Navy officer came onboard to see what the problem was. I had already removed the steering bracket by then and so I was able to show him. He took it with him and said he would not be long. Forty five minutes later two Guard Coste (Coastguard) officers came onboard with the repaired part, it only took me thirty minutes to put it back on, they waited onboard until it was all working. Once tested we went below decks for a nice chat and exchanged email address.

The second problem was a ripped seam in the mainsail, you may recall it mentioned in last weeks update. The problem is in the design and cut of the sail. The third reefing point uses a Cunningham [hole] fitting which is reinforced, under which there is the seam. This is where the sail has torn twice now, okay the first time was in 58kn of wind in the Tasman Sea so we can allow that one. This time however there was only 17kn The problem being that this fitting flaps around (when setting or lower the sail) a lot and hence the seam splits. If the seam was in the reinforced area it would be fine, but sitting under it as it does, it naturally becomes the weakest point. Once in port I will get the sailmaker to put in a reinforced patch over that seam to spread the stress.

Fair winds, calm seas.