Her Open 60 Roxy runs into junk
Vendee Globe sailor Sam Davies suffered rudder problems after driving at speed into a semi-submerged ‘island’ of weed and junk.
The solo,non-stop, round-the-world sailor said: ‘ The wind was established between 35 and 40 knots all day, with gusts of 45 knots. The waves were mountains, and Roxy was hooning along, on the edge of control. I wanted to push quite hard to gain some miles with the weather system towards the security gate.
‘The waves were so impressively scary that I tried not to look at them. That way I wouldn’t chicken out and reduce sail too much. Anyway, it is better to keep going fast in these big seas so that Roxy does not get overpowered by a breaking wave.
‘As night fell, the wind started to shift and I had to gybe in the pitch black, with the huge waves. It was quite an adrenalin buzz to control Roxy in those conditions, working out in the cockpit as she screamed along at 25 knots. I did my gybe and afterwards managed to get some sleep (much needed, but difficult when your bed moves more than a fairground ride!).
‘This morning has been full-on and the drama continued. The wind had been easing, and I was planning a day of tidying and preparing Roxy for the next storm. Just as my porridge was ready to eat, there was a bit of a lurch and a bang. I looked out and saw that the starboard rudder had kicked up – we had obviously hit something. Then I realised that instead of 14-15 knots we were doing just 8. I rolled the solent and quickly got the endoscope out to check under the boat. I couldn’t see the keel because there was a HUGE packet of seaweed wrapped around it. We had literally “parked up” in a big pile of the stuff. I think it must be J-P Dick’s seaweed!
‘So, the rudder was the first priority. Annoyingly, it is the rudder I have fixed, so re-doing the fuse and getting it back down was a bit more complicated than before and needed some adjustments. I found myself in the scoop at the back of Roxy, tools in hand, practically underwater; because we were going so slowly the huge waves were breaking into the scoop! It was a nice chilly job.
‘Rudder fixed, I could then concentrate on getting the weed off the keel. Luckily a big back-down did the job (you can see some of the weed that came off in the photo). The sea-birds were very happy with me because I’d presented them with a pile of tasty weed that must have been full of shrimps.
‘So, after a bit of a pit-stop, I got Roxy off again. We re-stacked, gybed , shook out two reefs, and set the headsails. Totally knackered, I also had a messy cockpit with ropes everywhere. And, on top of that – COLD porridge – YUK!
‘To make up for that, and because I’d got a bit of a dunking with my rudder, I heated up some water, for a “shower” and put on a full set of clean clothes – luxury!’