Day 20 towards Cape Horn - Another problem just caught in time - and fixed.....

After lowering the pole to the deck, I happened to have a look at the pin which had given a problem the other day - that was fine, but I then noticed that another big pin, holding the pole end to the mast car attachment, was nearly out of its hole! A circlip holding the end in place was missing and there was nothing to stop the pin from falling out - which it was clearly well on its way to doing ...!!

Jeanne Socrates Nereida
Courtesy of Jeanne Socrates

Saturday 10th November 2012 (Start of Vendee Globe!)

Overnight was beautiful - clear, full of bright stars .. a crescent moon rising later.... a bright planet just above Taurus - I wonder which it is??  

When running the small generator recently, it's been taking quite a time to excite and rev up- I finally had to take a spanner to it last night, to release a nut on the end of the the speed actuator arm so it could do its job. I smeared it with grease to help it.  

A very settled day, mostly sunny blue skies above, although with plenty of scattered white clouds around at times, a very big (easily 3m/10ft) swell from NNW and wind that has now veered more to NE over the day from N-NNE overnight, but rather light at times - down to around 10-12 kt, except when a cloud comes by (as now!) to give increased wind of 15-17 kt or so...  

The wind indicator seems to have mostly decided to give what look to be correct readings, which is nice, but I've not had a chance to look at the rudder reference unit on the autopilot - the rudder bar is still missing from the display when in 'Standby' and has been, since trying to turn us hard to port in light winds the other day ... very worrying..... So Fred, the Hydrovane windsteering, has mainly been in charge since then and coping fairly well, although we wander around quite a bit .  

The other good news is that the genoa furling gear seems to be fine - that's a relief! I went to furl in the genoa, as I was thinking of gybing the pole in the veered wind, and had no problem there. But after lowering the pole to the deck, I happened to have a look at the pin which had given a problem the other day - that was fine, after my 'fix', but I then noticed that another big pin, holding the pole end to the mast car attachment, was nearly out of its hole! A circlip holding the end in place was missing and there was nothing to stop the pin from falling out - which it was clearly well on its way to doing ...!! Lucky I'd spotted it before I'd raised the pole end up the mast again to stow it, since it would then have been well out of sight ....!!  

I immediately went for a hammer, to bang it back into place - but it started moving again almost immediately and clearly had to be dealt with if I was to continue being able to use the pole - but what could I do? The end was only just showing when in place and I had no spare circlip.... I thought about using wire in the groove and around the jaw end, but didn't feel that would secure it well enough... In the end, I decided the only solution was to replace it. I searched among my spare clevis pins to see if I had one to fit the hole, of roughly the right length ... I had quite a few possibles, but the only one which fitted the hole exactly (half-inch - a metric/imperial, Europe/N.America problem!) was too short. Most of my spares are metric and this had just been fitted in Canada - with imperial fittings .... grrr!! - Murphy is alive and kicking, as usual..!  

The best fit turned out to be a mainsail halyard pin - with a flat piece at its end which swiveled to hold the pin in place. Just too short to use, as made, but if I could get rid of that metal piece, the hole that it swiveled on via a metal piece holding it through the pin, was just right for a split pin ... Of course, all this action was taking place in the big swell already mentioned...!!  

Out with the electric drill, to try to drill out the hole and get rid of the metal holding the flat piece in place.... NOT easy, being steel.... and not helped by the swell! A companionway step became my workbench, as usual, with a clamp to hold the pin in place.... One broken drill later, and use of a slightly smaller, but much sharper drill, and I finally managed to clean out the hole - we were in business!! I used a washer on the split pin end of the clevis pin and it was then exactly right in length.... Bang out the old pin with the new one, place the split pin through the hole ... and then try to open the 'jaws' of the split pin - it kept turning... but finally, using flat screwdriver and pliers, it was done - a good,solid 'fix' - but it had taken several hours in all - I was feeling tired and more than ready for my missed breakfast cup of coffee - it was by now 3pm...and time for my daily position & weather report .....!! With only mainsail for most of the morning, our speed was down, so making 123n.ml DMG was, I felt, not too bad.  

I caught up with the rest of my day, including looking over a load of weather faxes I'd downloaded while busy with the pole, and made sure I had a good meal before checking in at 7pm PST (dark for quite a time by then) with Cirrus, ZL2CVJ, on the Pacific Seafarers Net. It was good to hear that friends on 'Long Shot II' had got going from Tonga towards New Zealand, having waited out the recent bad storm - tied with ten lines to shore, in addition to their anchor, they'd told me...!  

I then made for my bunk early - and I'm writing this at 4am, after the second time up to trim the sails and adjust Fred! The wind has veered more to ENE and we've been tending more to SSW, rather than due S.... Back to my bunk again, for some more sleep... I'll look at the rudder reference unit later in the morning...  

24hr DMG to 1500PST/2300GMT: 123ml ; Golden Gate Bridge: 575n.ml; Strait of Juan de Fuca was 1208n.ml away and our 3pm position was 480 ml due W of Isla Cedros, just off the Baja peninsula in Mexico.