April 27, 2011

South Pacific- Day 18: Lost the Rudder

I had hoped to write a mundane post about all the things I'm looking forward to when we make landfall tomorrow (sleeping through the night, walking on land, shaving my legs (I don't think safety razors had boisterous sea conditions in mind...)). Instead, we're pondering if we can make landfall tomorrow, and if we do where we'll make it to.

When Evan transmits over the SSB the autopilot occasionally makes a hard right. Last night we ended up gybing. The technique is to hand steer through the remainder of the net, then restart the auto pilot. This morning when we did this the boat kept rounding up and wouldn't settle on a course. We tried numerous times to balance the rig--which is usually pretty simple--but no matter what we did, the boat would round up into the wind.

I suggested Ev have a good look at the rudders. He pondered one then the other, then commented that the port rudder looked fine, but for some reason, the starboard (recently repaired) rudder wasn't visible. So I hopped off the wheel and confirmed that the rudder wasn't visible because it wasn't there...

Fortunately we have two hulls and two rudders. And with a slow, carefully balanced boat we can manage with just one rudder for the 170 miles or so we have left of this journey. So we pulled down the main and reduced the genoa in an effort to keep our speed under 6 knots and the forces on our remaining rudder under control.

The next step is to see what course we can hold. It looks as though we can still make our way into Hiva Oa and because we've run the engine maybe 5 hours so far this trip, we have loads of fuel for motoring, which will reduce the strain on our rudder still further.

This sort of sucks though and if you want to send us some 'safe passage' vibes we'd be happy to take them. I was hoping we'd make it through the trip without a major incident, but it looks like we're not so lucky. It's also going to be a bit complex to get a new rudder. Our plan current plan is to have one made at a shipyard in Raitea, then shipped to the Marquesas, but we'll need to start researching our options...

S 8 17 W 136 33 making a course of 225 T roughly 170 miles out from Hiva Oa
Yesterday's run 171 miles

p.s. Note to Michael WGD: come up at 0:00 for the kid's net so we can touch base.

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Ramsay said...

That sounds like a bit of a bummer. Good thing you're not in one of those boats that only has one rudder. Hope the other one stays with you.

boatbaby said...

Oy. You know probably at the very moment your rudder went into Davy Jones Locker I was meeting with a local rigger type about checking ours b/c you are the 4th boat I know (all cats too) to drop a rudder in the Pacific. Be safe!

hotspur said...

PISSER! And that's all I've got to say about it. Limp in safely, my friends.