If Carlsberg could make trenches

Written by David Townsend

5, October 2008

01°34’648N 066°01’652E Carlsberg Trench, Indian Ocean.

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

If Carlsberg could make trenches, then this would probably be the best trench in the world. Sorry about that I could just not resist it lol.

Life Onboard:

Apart from one of the most amazing sights one can see out here, that of a group of Humpback whales frolicking on the surface of the ocean it turned into an interesting week onboard with nice days intermixed with squally ones.

In particular one came through which was unbelievable. It produced winds although not out of the ordinary in them selves just the concentration, The first came through, lasting only a minute or so but with such force Pinta healed over like never before, then, a moment of calm before the same again. The wind generator had fit making sounds like you would not believe. Thoughts of the dodger, bimini or indeed the mast going to go for it was such a concentrated burst like I have never experienced before.

Luckily, and I take no credit for this, I felt a sudden drop in temperature which in itself is a sign of a squall coming through. I furled the Genoa, double reefed the main and waited. I stood half way up the companion way steps. As soon as the fist sign of the wind came through I let fly the mainsheets and just waited to see what I would be left with after its passing. With unbelievable emotion I turned my headlamp towards the mainsail to find it not only still there but more to the point still in one peace.

Two days later I was becalmed for 30hrs. I took the opportunity to make some more water.

The Boat:
Midweek I heard a few noises coming from the binnacle, it sounded like chain slapping the sides which indicated loose steering cables. Once the becalmed I took the opportunity to investigate. To do so one has to enter the lazzerette locker, the most uncomfortable place onboard being only just bigger enough to squeeze into. Entering via the starboard quarter locker which is around body width, sliding down along on you’re back moving like a worm taking your bodies weight either on backside or your head. Arching your back; pushing yourself along a few centimetres then lowering yourself down before repeating once more. All this is done in a space with a height of 40cm and a metre wide.

Once under the swimming platform, pushing yourself upside down legs working there way skywards up the port side.

In position, working almost upside down I found that a stainless eye bolt had broken in two. The steering cables are connected to the rudder quadrant via these, one on each side. The autopilot is also connected there via another bracket to the quadrant. I had lost hand steering; this had happened before when a steering cable parted however this was a little more serious for damage had been done to autopilot bracket. With the rudder quadrant being made of aluminium and the autopilot bracket made of stainless it will not be long before the wear ‘n’ tear will cause the two to separate. Indeed there are signs this is already happening.

As luck would have it and don’t ask me how or indeed why it should be so but the broken starboard steering cable has jammed itself onto the corner of the quadrant. By the grace of King Neptune that with only one steering cable attached I have hand steering, albeit for not long I fear.

This may indeed is an interesting situation however it could have been worse for as I am becalmed at least I could venture down the locker from hell and investigate. In the slightest sea venturing down there is not recommended. If all else fails, like once before I can use the emergency steering although that in reality is next to useless. I am in the process of finding out contact information regarding all the ports in the area as to the facilities available for I need a machine shop. The result of which will help me decided as to the route ahead.

So, 1,100Nm away from my first waypoint off the coast of Yemen (600Nm further the port of Aden) I may well be on a sticky wicked. The Maldives is 450Nm away; I can drift there on the current alone although it will take about 15 days. I will await news from contact at these locations as to my destination.

Fair winds, calm seas.