1999 New Zealand - published newpaper story PDF Print E-mail
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1999 New Zealand - published newpaper story
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We made really good time, and covered 168 nautical miles in one 24 hour period. We were really excited as we were finally past half way and seemed to be on the down hill run. It was during this time period that water was noticed to be building up a bit in the bilge.

Everything was inspected and there seemed to be some sort of a weep at the stern near the steering gear. Ivan checked the bilge pump and cleaned it of any blockage. The problem didn't sound too bad and I didn't even bother to look. Nobody seemed particularly worried. Then after such a good couple of days, more calm weather.

We are all keen now and we changed sails willingly. We rigged the MPS, a big head sail, and it gave us a reasonable 4 knots.

Not bad for such a light breeze. Who could believe that we were in the middle of the Tasman Sea. I have seen rougher days on the lake. We all felt as though it wouldn't last and were expecting the weather pattern to change and have it come out of the south at some stage.

We had actually dropped down below our optimum line by about 60 miles and so the wind from the south or south west would be perfect. Looking back, maybe we wished for too much. One day we even motored for a while.

We had to charge the batteries and might as well have the engine idling and driving us forward as not. The self steering made it an easy day and we kept a casual eye out for ships. Sure enough one afternoon there is a ship. We look to be on a course that will cross their path very closely. Charley calls them on the radio. They are the "Cape York" out of Auckland and bound for Melbourne.

We alter course to give them plenty of room. Somebody waves to us from the bridge. Its strange how good it feels just to see someone different, even from a distance. The wind has swung and is now coming from the south. We pick up speed and make good headway east, also we win back some of the ground we have lost to the south. The wind is from the southeast though and is not making for the easiest or gentlest action on the boat. We are beating into the wind and it is starting to put more strain on the steering gear. Not the best situation. Other than the ship we have seen some wildlife.

There are quite a few albatross and a some other smaller sea birds. We have also seen dolphins most nights, swimming next to the boat in the dark. The dolphins are easy to see even at night. As they swim they cause the phosphorescence in the water to light up and it shows them as glowing darts of light. One afternoon, just on dusk, we even had the pleasure of a whale surfacing right near the boat. It surfaced and exhaled only about two metres off the port side of the boat. It surfaced again off to the starboard side of the boat and then disappeared.

Charley and Ivan check the rudder mounting again and it seems to have gotten worse. There is more water in the bilge and on closer inspection the pump is spinning madly, but not accomplishing much. It seems that it is pumping, but has lost its efficiency and can't lift the water high enough. We bail the water through the night about every hour. This keeps it below the floor. The next morning we changed the plumbing on the bilge pump so it doesn't have to lift so high. Straight out of the bilge and into the galley sink. Nothing fancy, but it works. We can stop bailing for a while and attend to other things.

We play around with the other bilge pump for a while, but it is beyond help. I am not convinced these submersible pumps are built for longevity. Maybe a fish tank is more appropriate. I finally have a look at the hull where the skeg is welded on and am surprised at the size of the cracks. They run for about 300 mm each side. Also, whenever the rudder is moved the cracks twist and open even more.

This is worse than I thought and we still have several hundred miles to go. It should be good enough to get us there! The day passes and the wind builds up. We all, quietly, take turns going to look at the cracks in the hull but don't say much to each other about it. We are all now a bit worried. The night comes on suddenly. A hot bowl of food each and we are pleased to get it, even though it all comes out of cans.


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