Mysterious leak into sail locker leaves Sir Robin pumping out gallons of water

Yacht Saga Insurance
0700 GMT Friday 20th April 2007
Lat 36 51N Long 068 35W
Distance In 24 Hours: 240.6 nm
Miles to Bilbao: 2,969 nm
Average Speed In 24 Hours: 10.03 knots

‘The source of water into the sail locker of SAGA remains a mystery. I spent most of yesterday searching for it and pumping out gallons with the little Jabsco pump donated by Aladdins Cave, which has worked manfully. A problem was added by the watertight door forward not being secured properly and I bucketed 54 full buckets from that compartment, some 540 pounds in weight, which explains why SAGA seemed a bit heavy. There’s a few buckets left in there but it will have to wait for calmer weather, as will further investigation of the leak source, when I can get everything dried out and I hope the leak will show itself. The prime suspect is the connection to the ballast tank valves, which are now below sea level as we are heeled over to starboard and this would not have shown in port when we were upright. Or it may have been something as simple as the deck hatch not properly secured in which case the ingress will cease now I know it is. Anyway, the problem is controllable.

‘I tried to heave the sodden sails over to the higher side of the boat but they must weigh 300 Kgs with the water in them, I got one halfway and the boat lurched, throwing the sail, with myself beneath it, back downhill where I ended up waist high in water and it took me a few minutes to extricate myself..The problem is that although I have a change of clothes, I only have a couple, and the only way to dry them is by wearing them.

‘So less attention to racing and more to husbandry with a bucketing boat in the Gulf Stream. You cannot finish a race unless you reach the finish line, so looking after the boat has to be the priority for the moment. ‘The problem with these Open 60’s is that they are thoroughbreds and require a lot of preparation and attention, something that became obvious in the first leg. We have worked hard to get the boat up to standard and there is no comparison between her now and at the beginning of the race, but we have also been under time pressure in the stopovers to service her and there was no opportunity for a test sail, which might have exposed this leak problem, before the race started. So distance lost on Unai I’m afraid, but apart from the leak, also a little tiredness in the sailor.

‘I have slept in the bunks three times since the start, I usually sleep on the navigation seat. Last night we hit a wave and as SAGA de-accelerated I went forward and found myself thrown beneath the nav table and tangled with the keel controls. I think they are alright..

‘We are still in the Gulf Stream, the warm oceanic river that winds its way from the Gulf of Mexico, across the Atlantic and extends as far as northern Norway which is one of the reasons the British Isles have a moderate climate. It is worth a little bit of speed to us at the moment and the seawater temperature is nearly 23 degrees celsius whereas outside the stream it would be down to 8 degrees or less. I am still passing clumps of Sargasso weed, but not as thick as they were further south.

‘In the race to Bilbao, Bernard is leading as usual but Kojiro is hanging onto his coat tails. Unai is ahead of me by about 12 miles having decided to go for speed and head off the wind, so he is south and east and about 12 miles closer to the finish at the moment so we are not far apart. The northerly airstream persists as we are all about the same latitude heading roughly east and cannot do anything different until the wind direction changes. AGD has now pulled into Bermuda for further repairs, his 4th stop this leg, and effectively this means he won’t make the time limit in Norfolk. My problems pale into insignificance compared with his.’ RKJ”