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Lord Howe Island - New Year 1993
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We tried quite a few things to get even some steering. This included trying to join a double ended ring spanner in between the arms with D shackles. Although this looked lovely it didn’t work very well. It gave some control when the arms were in extension but not when they were in compression.

Working on the rudder arm while the boat was being hit from behind by the swell was very scary. The arm was whipping around randomly all the time and the forces involved meant that it would cut your hand off without even trying if you got it caught. We eventually used a piece of stainless wire rope about 400 MM long with a thimble in each end, to secure the arm and stop it whipping from extreme to extreme. The rudder now had limited movement perhaps 10 degrees each way from centre. This did not give us the all important steering but it did allow us to set up the sails so it would sail in a straight line across the wind. We were now on the move again and in roughly the right direction. Our situation was still pretty shaky. We were still approximately 300 miles off the coast and without steering. Not a good thing.
We were in no physical danger as the boat was still secure, we had plenty of food and water and we had the EPIRB if we needed to alert people to our position. However this was not really an option. If we set off the epirb, so far off the coast, they come and get you and take you home, they don’t really give two hoots about the boat, they just leave it behind as it is to far to tow it. Ivan was not keen to get in a situation where he had to leave the boat so we knuckled down to solve the problem ourselves.

While we were trying to sort out our little problem Ivan, Colin and I spent quite a bit of time with our heads down and our bums up. At one stage Ivan had to shout at the water. This was a shock as he had always boasted at how sea sick proof he was.

We spent the best part of the next 24 hours sailing with the rudder tied off and made quite a distance closer to the coast.

We ended up being about level with Port Macquarie. Our rough plan was to get as close to Newcastle as possible and then radio for a tow, but in the mean time we worked to get better steering. During that night we had to dodge several ships as we were now in the shipping lane.

Although it would appear that we were in serious trouble the days were very relaxed. With no steering to do we relaxed and listened to CD’s and slept as the boat was riding very comfortably sailing across the face of the wind as we were. We even had the odd beer. I was feeling very good and not sea sick. I even tried to see if I could make myself seasick. I sat on the cabin floor, drank a few beers, listened to Dire Straights on the CD player while reading the words on the cover and still I felt OK. I felt like a king.

During the days we watched the sea a lot and saw heaps more flying fish as well as more dolphins and whales. We also saw a few bits of rubbish, even when we were hundreds of mile out. At one stage I saw a pressure pack can floating on the surface and it had streams of weed growing on it about a foot long. I wondered at how long it had been floating around on the currents. One thing we never saw was one of the mythical shipping containers, which were grateful for. Although I often joked that if we saw one that had Harley Davidson stenciled on it they could leave me sitting on top with a heap of food and I would wait for it to wash up on the beach somewhere.


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