June 27, 2015

Rudders Belong IN the Water

With 300 miles to go we were looking forward to landfall in the Seychelles in less than 48 hrs. Visions of fresh fruit and baguettes were dancing in our heads as we made good time under spinnaker. It's been a pretty decent passage so far. Other than one night when we hit a black wall of endless seeming 30-35 knot squalls in our face, when a boobie bird took forlorn refuge in our cockpit and Charlie the cat cowered beside me, it's been a passage of moderate winds and outsized southern ocean swell.
As many of the boats around us succumbed to torn sails, irritable autopilots and engine issues we trucked along: Right up until the moment our port rudder broke free.

Acting quickly, Evan tried to kick the rudder back into position. But the forces of moving quickly under spinnaker torqued the tiller fittings--making it impossible to fit the rudder back in place and nearly broke Ev's fingers in the process. After quickly lowering sails we detached the rudder and pulled it on deck. The we began trying to balance the boat: some jib, a bit of thrust from the motor and a bit of daggerboard.

We let the boats we're traveling in company with know what was up over SSB radio then we started to do the calculations: 300 miles to go, 250 miles of fuel... The strong adverse current makes it even more interesting.

The funny thing is, we're not too worried. One of the boats currently underway has two torn sails, a broken autopilot and 270 miles to go in strong wind. He's still cheerful--so we're totally fine.

The plan is to get to the Seychelles and haul out to reattach the rudder using something other than stainless eye bolts. The bolt which broke, setting our rudder free from the stern, was a brand-new Wichard bolt that replaced an identical 25 year-old bolt. It should have lasted longer than 6 months...

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