Gear failure and unreliable winds leave Sir Robin feeling unfestive

Yacht Saga Insurance
Sunday 24th December 2006
Latitude 37 51 South Longitude 105 26 East

‘It’s Christmas Eve, I know that because everybody keeps asking me how I’m feeling spending Christmas at sea. But apart from that it feels like any other day at sea. I want to enjoy it, as I’m going to remember it for a long time, but the weather is testing my patience. I’ll give my daughter and grandchildren a call tomorrow evening, which I’m looking forward to, but other than that it’s back to the grindstone. We are pounding our way north or north-east, so heading for Java at the moment and hoping the wind might change direction or at some point we will have to tack and continue the long zigzag to Fremantle. I could make the motion easier if I flooded a forward ballast tank, but last time I did that it flooded the whole sail locker so I prefer to bash than flood.

‘A grey day, a grey sea, wind varying in strength blowing directly from Fremantle, waves ditto. I know the Aus met boys say we have SE’ly winds here, but in fact it is East North East at the moment. The problem with these constant delays is that they are eating into the time I desperately need to sort things out on the boat. We had pre planned to unstep the mast on the 28th, but with this weather I won’t have arrived by then. The longer the weather holds me back now the more problems I can expect next leg.

‘Interesting failure yesterday. The pin that holds the main boom onto the mast gooseneck has two end pieces held on with split pins. Both of these pins had sheared and one end fitting come off when I noticed it. It was not like that the day before when I did my deck check. The problem was to get the boom swung round so that the fitting would go back in the hole, and, of course, the boom being carbon fibre, you could not just hammer the fitting back into place. It took a while and quite a lot of manipulation with ropes through blocks leading everywhere, but it is fixed, for the time being at least.

‘We crossed the 40th parallel point north at 0907 GMT yesterday so I suppose we are officially out of the Roaring Forties. Sorry, that’s it for today. Writing with this lap top has now become so difficult as it jumps around, not just the keyboard, it moves bits you have written around and then jumps programmes. It has taken 56 minutes to type this much and my patience is exhausted.’ RKJ