The chop picks up as Egret's stabilisers play up

Day 25: Mechanical woes

Position: 05° 57.70N 27° 03.87W

Course: 224 degrees

Distance travelled: 2252.2 nm from Gibraltar

Average speed: 5.2 knots

Conditions: 4-6′ swells with chop SSE, apparent wind 18.8 knots SSE

Scott and Mary Flanders left Gibraltar on 16 September, and we’ll be following their journey every step of the way, thanks to this unique online “blog”. For the first instalment of their diary, click here

Egret is pushing her way through a wind blown chop on top of swells from the SSE with the same opposing current as yesterday. Yesterday evening continuing through to this morning the wind has ranged from 16-22 knots with periods of rain. Egret is handling it well but this means you can’t come into the pilothouse with a cup of coffee in each hand as before (Mary’s words). For dinner last night we ate some beans that had soaked all day in seawater instead of the usual fresh food. If you remember, the water maker broke so we’re trying to conserve.

Boat issues. Starting after the 0500-0900 watch there came a banging noise from somewhere. Usually that is a jar overturned in the cupboard rolling back and forth. The way we are provisioned that isn’t going to happen. Soon we found the noise coming from the chain locker. We have three anchor snubbers made up and hanging on pegs so we thought that was it. After daylight the seas laid down a bit so we went forward to take care of the problem, but found instead the heavy shackle attached to the bow towing eye just above the waterline loose (this is pre-connected to the parachute anchor for deployment). A quick tightening of the line took care of that.

Now for the big one. Why does there have to be a big one!? At around 0300 Steve woke me and said the stabiliser’s low oil light was on. Steve had already shut off the unit. Egret’s gyro to oil tower gasket leaks 1.5 pints of oil a week under way. This is after five gasket changes. Perhaps we should weld it shut. Quickly checked that the assembly of catch basins and oil diapers underneath the oil tower didn’t show that much oil loss. The leak was under the master berth. There is a blue anodized aluminum cap sealed with an O-ring covering a little thing that adjusts the fin alignment. That little thing has an O-ring that is leaking. This happened before but on a much smaller scale. My call to the stabiliser rep ended with the fix as “tighten the cap then see if the leak gets any worse” or something very close. This is like finding the bath leaking and caulking the bathroom door to fix the problem. The door leaked. With the door re-caulked, nailed shut, and the oil reservoir refilled, as well as numerous half-hour fluid level checks later, all is well.

Please don’t get me wrong. We love our stabilisers. They work 99.99% of the time. They perform a very large and important function – comfort and safety. We just wish they would perform like our wonderful little Lugger.