The News Keeps Rolling In

News item and posts from our competitors arrive daily. Sometime just a few words and other times a full article. Over the past week we’ve posted over 50 items on our Facebook page and the response in return from you all has been great. Here’s just a few items from the past week:

April 11 – News from Jamie on Force Eleven –
We are now down to the last 150 miles to the Solomons after leaving Southport due to Cyclone Iris. It has been a difficult time but we both dug in and kept the boat sailing hard over the past week hand steering most of the way. Water coming into the boat left us with wet salty beds and constant bailing.

Today saw us sail into a windless sea giving a chance to catch up on a few jobs and get some lighter air sails out
Some highlights for me were steering around some breaching whales and spotting a big shark with a huge dorsal fin. Pretty sure it was a tiger but will check up later when get the opportunity.

Our shift pattern seems to be working but fatigue is always there.
Cheers for now. Jc Co skipper Force eleven. (Pic above)

The following day, a post from Lord Jiminy:

During our afternoon beer, some 350nm from any known land we sailed past a random upturned boat. It looked like it was about 30-40 foot long, was very old and could easily have been from a coastal village hit by storms at some point. It brought sharply to my attention just how much of a part good fortune plays in successful ocean sailing. Later that night, with no moon or stars peering through the thick cloud cover above the night and sea were pitch black. The sea was as flat as I’ve seen. A constant 20kn breeze had LJ fizzing across the top of the water topping 15kn through the water. It was exhilarating. But as exciting as it was all I could think about all night was, “please no more stricken boats”.

Close to the end of the week, we saw some postings from OHYC. The container had arrived:

Dear OHYC members
The container containing the equipment of the Melbourne Osaka Cup participating boats will arrive at Osaka Kitakyushu Marina on April 14. We will transfer the contents to the storage container at the marina, so we ask for your support.

Sorry to inconvenience you but please gather at Melbourne House on Saturday, April 14 at 9 AM. The more that attend, the sooner the job will be complete. Thank you.
(Mel Osaka Executive Committee)

And a brief call to action went out on the 14th as well.

The container has arrived. Julie’s already here. Hurry up everyone !”

The story of Bronson was an tale full of interest from the guys on Kraken.

Bronson visits Kraken –
Bronson the grey sea bird landed just after rum o’clock on Wednesday. He sat on the life ring for the first 30 min or so then obviously thought that this sailing gig is pretty easy.

After an intensive training period covering driving, winches, how to make the boat go fast, it was time to settle in for a long evening on the rail. Bronson being a smart bird, could obviously sleep half a brain at a time. He managed to perch on the life rail [covered one of course] for 14 hours. He even shuffled along with some general encouragement when he was in the way of the helm position. After a sleep in till around 0800 h he was off for brekkie – plus instructions to bring back rum. Not having returned yet, we think he’s still looking……”

Grant and Sue aboard Blue Water Tracks have had their fair share of problems but they’re determined to get to Osaka:

At 5 minutes past midnight the boat uncontrollably rounded up at the same time autopilot disconnect alarm sounded. There would be no sleep tonight.

2 days earlier Sue and I have been working hard to keep the boat moving through the high pressure system off the coast of New South Wales that had little wind. The sea had been flat and the sun shining if it wasn’t a race then this is the day to live for, it was absolutely stunning .

Sue and I where starting to get back into our rhythm that was interrupted by our Sydney stop. We run a 2 hours on, 2 hours off shift with a longer period off during the middle of the day for lunch and the evening a dinner.

It generally takes 5 to 7 days before what I call normality kicks in. This is when the body normalises the motion of the boat and your able to start and get a good sleep, all be it 2 hours worth. Up until that point your constantly in a state of fatigue. And the moment you step foot on land this reset and you have the start again.

As Tuesday evening approached the wind moved southwest and increased in speed, giving us the nice little kick along before we reach the tradewinds that would rocket us up to the Solomon islands.

We had just passed abeam Brisbane and where now entering into the tradewinds that we had been so yearning for.

Just after midnight, a black night in 3 – 4 meter swells with 25- 30kts of wind, Sue was preparing to come on shift and I was getting ready to go down when mayhem broke out. I grabbed the right hand helm wheel only to find that it turned without any resistances. The left-hand wheel was still working and we immediately hove-to to begin the investigation on what had just happened.

A hove-to is where you back the sails to the wind which effectively stops the boat dead in the water and stabilize it.

Sue and I got to work clearing out the dingie and cockpit lockers so we could gain access to the rudder stock and steering mechanism.

The dinghy locker is not sealed so as to let water drain from the tender. The problem for us is as the boat bob up in down in the swell it also let water in from time to time.

Access to the steering gearboxes is under this floor. An area even tighter than the bow and now i was going to have to slide down into it to be able to inspect all the cabling.

Each wheel is connected its own gearbox assembly which then actuates the rudder. The autopilot drive motor is connected via chain to the right hand gearbox.

When we opened the inspection hatch we could immediately see the right hand gearbox had been sheared from its base plate and in the process severed the wires to the autopilot sensor.

Sliding down in the hole to recover all the components every now and then the boat would clip a wave allowing water to run across the locker floor and cascade down into the hole where I now was. Restricted in movement I could only endure this water-board type treatment. Cold wet and fatigued by 3 a.m. we have recovered all the parts and started to reassemble them again.

To our surprise the screw holes had not been stripped which means that the unit did not suffering catastrophic failure.

By 5 a.m. we had reassembled and re install the unit and connected the autopilot chain and steering cables to it. At this time in the morning we are unable to reason why the failure had occurred, it looks like we may have just gotten away with it and been able to continue however when we move the wheel hard left we could hear the chain grinding. This could only mean 1 of 3 things, the chain itself was damaged, the shaft out of gearbox was bent or we had a alignment issue. In either case we are going to need specialist help.

Our only option now is to turn and head for Coolangatta, 160nm away where we know we have access to trades.

With the boat hove-to we took the opportunity to get some sleep before we set off. With no autopilot we will be hand steering for the next 24 hours.

The latter we reasoned that the screws must have been vibrating loose. Something not easily to inspect as the base-plate is mounted on a metal frame covering most of the screws.

With any luck it will be a quick repair although we may have lost our weather window.

Osaka, we are coming.


And we’ll round off this report with a story from Sunday from the Club that all our competitors are aiming to visit.

With the arrival of the first competitor only a week ( or sooner ) away, the activity at OHYC today is at full level.

There’s reported to be two teams in rehearsal mode. One is the Boat Arrival team and they were out on the water early making sure everything was in order. Meanwhile back at the Club Rooms, a second team was “rehearsing” the food preparation … and subsequent eating.

It’s reported though that Team 1 had completed their tasks just in time to help Team 2 with the second part of their mission !

Looks impressive.

This is only a small sample of the stories that we’ve published over the past week. To see them all, visit our Facebook Page.