LAT 16 58.6S
LONG 154 20.3
WIND 240@7KTS SEA CALM SWELL 180@1M BARO 1001.9 CL0UD 2/8 Mares Tails
Gold Coast Australia has been experiencing fantastic sailing conditions as we head north in the Coral Sea towards PNG. The
perfect conditions have allowed us to carry out some maintenance on the boat and rectify problems that have occurred since we left South Port Yacht Club.
One serious issue that has required attention is our leaking stern gland and this morning after three hours of hard labour
and a little bit of cursing I managed to get the new stern gland on. The process of replacing the stern gland is normally
undertaken while the boat is out of the water and there were a few problems that we had to nut out prior to starting the
exercise including how not to loose the propeller and shaft altogether how prevent masses of water entering the hull, how to
get the water out, and what to do if it all go’s horribly wrong. The process involves disconnecting the propeller shaft
from the gear box and sliding it back, then using a puller to remove the spindle that attaches the shaft to the gear box.
This required a special tool to pull the spindle off and thankfully it was in a box passed over from another yacht in the
fleet Singapore shortly after race start. The spindle had not been removed for a long time, and the nuts took a bit of
heat, WD40 and elbow grease to crack. Finally, with the bilge pumps running flat out to remove the water that was flooding
in, the spindle was off, and we were able to remove the old cracked stern gland off. With a bit of messing about the new
stern gland was on and with a bit more elbow grease and a little more cursing I managed to get the shaft re-attached to the gear box and the stern glands secured in place without sinking the boat.
Other maintenance that has been undertaken is making spectra loops which are used as sacrificial loops on our sheets and
braces and which we change out every two days of running under spinnaker to prevent chafe and snapping sheets, guys and
spinnaker poles. Clipper yachts use the same sails and have limited sheets, braces and halyards to use while we sail
45000nm around the world, so consequently we use a lot more protection and sacrificial loops than your normal racing yacht
to enable us to maintain our equipment. It is imperative that this equipment is well maintained or it will most likely give way in the worst moment possible.
As we sail into the warmer waters of the tropics my mid day “happy hour” brief warned crew about the dangers of sunburn,
heat stroke and dehydration. While conditions on deck are at the moment quite pleasant due to the gentle 10kts of westerly
wind, conditions below are getting exceedingly hot. These conditions are not helped by cooking bread in the oven and
running the engine to generate electricity (as our unbreakable ONEN generator is still not working despite being taken apart
twice by two different service agents!) Showers are also required to maintain hygiene for the 16 crew onboard and our water
maker is basically running flat out to cope with the water required for drinking, cooking and showers.
As the Sydney to Hobart yachts sail towards Hobart, we have decided to compete in our own 640nm challenge. Our start line
was at 20*40’S at 1200 EST and our finish will be at 10*00’S and our conditions, while being slightly warmer than the yachts
heading south will be reasonably similar though reversed. While the S2H yachts bashed their way down the NSW coast into a
southerly wind, they will experience some nice down wind running conditions on their way down the east coast. For us, our
“race”started with the down wind running, and it is expected that we will cop the headwinds from the tail end of ex-Tropical
Cyclone Grant towards the finish of our “race”. It will be interesting to see how we are placed, though in real life if a
clipper 68 with our heavy southern ocean going hull, alloy rig and panel cut dacron sails were to compete in a Sydney to
Hobart it would not perform too well against lighter displacement yachts, carbon masts and 3DL sails.
Wildlife at the moment consists of one boobie bird that continually tries to attack our windex, and as much as I love wild
life, I am about to get out my sling shot and see if I can discourage the boobie from making any further attacks. Other
than the windex attacking boobie, and the crew attacking gannet who made a return last night, wild life has been
concerningly bland for this area without a dolphin, fish or shark in sight. I only hope we are just not looking hard enough, but I fear that over fishing in the south pacific may be to blame.
On a happier note, we remain in the lead and in a good position to receive the new wind from the west first, so hopefully
will continue to extend this lead over the coming days to reach the Coral Sea scoring gate first and gain 3 points, but more
importantly, be the first yacht into the NE trades and commence our sprint to Singapore.