RTW Day 153 - wind steering rudder fell off

Was awoken before 6am, soon after dawn, from a short sleep while still hove-to by a banging on deck.

Saturday 23rd March 2013
Was awoken before 6am, soon after dawn, from a short sleep while still hove-to by a banging on deck. The wind generator, that I'd tied onto the stern arch temporarily in the dark last night after it had come off its pole, was again swinging freely in the big seas. It's very heavy and threatens to do major damage when banging into things so I hurriedly got into my foulies and boots and went up to lash it with a far stronger & longer line - difficult with seas still up around 5m or more and in wind around 25kt, although both far less than overnight. As soon as it's calm, I'll take the generator down below but it's far too heavy for me to move safely until these seas have lain right down. (So that can't happen very soon!)

A little later, I was about toget back to sleep but realised that conditions seemed reasonable enough to get underway. Took a time to organise  but finally we got sailing - first of all on starboard tack and sometime later, in veered wind, goosewinged on port tack.  Used AP (hydraulic autopilot, acting on the main ship's rudder directly) initially, while I re-set Fred - wasn't behaving quite right, although I couldn't see why - ...  Sails became backed with boat heading wrongly soon after I turned off AP... Tried again - same thing happened - most odd...    Back onto AP - had just finished adjusting our course and was looking over to see why Fred was having such trouble coping - saw the rudder come free...!  Luckily, its safety leash held, despite some bad chafe, so I was able to retrieve it as it trailed behind the boat - but the sugarscoop (steps on stern) was really slippery, not making it any easier & my hands got smothered in black anti-fouling!   Goretex-lined Dubarry seaboots worked well when washed by seas!   So the Hydrovane rudder is now lying lashed on deck  \- we're committed to the AP until seas are calm enough to get it back on - need fairly still water for that, so that's another thing that can't happen too soon!   I can only think that the security clip holding the pin in place that fixes the rudder to the post had broken or rusted away - it was really strong, so shouldn't have given rise to this problem.  

Ran generator while I downloaded emails/grib files...  Should really do it beforehand, but I like to have batteries reasonably well charged once I've finished with radio - never know how long emailing will take since depends on whether fast or slow connections - unpredictable!  I'm conserving battery power by turning off anything not vital - e.g.the chart plotter takes 3-4A , I've found, so it's now turned on only rarely, and similarly, the laptop, conected to 12V,  is put into 'Sleep' mode whenever not in use.  Solar panels put in power nicely for a short while in sunshine this morning, but sky is mainly overcast, giving minimal input.  

Snatched some more sleep before trying to contact Pacific Seafarers' Net at 10:30am- but Net Control, Jane, N7TZ, could not copy me (nor could anyone else), although I heard her just above my noise level - frustrating!   Emailed report and then got back to bunk for some more sleep before  downloading weatherfaxes from Wiluna, Aus, just before midday.  

Sailing today has been far calmer, despite 4-5m seas, with pleasant WSW  F5 wind, veering to NW, for most of the day.   Tonight, seas are up slightly and might increase further as another deep Low passes by S of us, possibly also giving increased wind tomorrow.....  

Highlight of today was spotting a Sooty albatross flying past - a juvenile with a pale grey 'collar', otherwise all dark.   Much smaller than the Royal albatross seen yesterday.  

I'm about to have some of the meal- in-a-soup (beans, lentils, ham, with several vegetables) that I made earlier today in between a major clear-up in the galley area - should last me several days!  

DMG at 1100 GMT: 62 n.ml.  (Hove-to overnight for 15-16 hr)  C. Leeuwin: 540 n.ml. (032T); WP due S of C. Leeuwin : 259 n.ml:  King Island (entrance to Bass Strait): 1555 n.ml. ; SE Cape of Tasmania: 1637 n.ml.