Australia, Pancake Creek, 24'00.269N - 151'44.173E
Due to some swell after a full day blowing 25 to 30 knots, the sea was by now building up while reaching the coast to break on it. As we headed towards the channel, all we can see was a line of surf but no passage to get into the calm water of the creek. Not trusting the view of rocks to our port we decided to head to starboard, panic started as nothing could be seen. So we just thought it will be best to turn around and go back at sea, while doing so we hit the ground. Hopefully it was a sandbank and not reef of rocks! The swell was pushing us farther and by now every wave passing was lifting us up than with a huge "Bang" throwing us back. The boat was shaking and we were having trouble moving around safely. This is when the bilge alarm started to let us know that water had found its way in! The leak was coming from the lazarette where a crack formed after the rudder had been pushed up a few centimeters inside the boat. We tried everything to stop the water from underwater patties to thick grease without much success. Hopefully all the people on the yachts anchored came out to help us by putting some extra anchors, they braved the darkness and the swell, some even jumped in the sea! We just had now to sit and wait hoping that the rising tide will save us. And indeed very early in the morning our mighty Blue Dawn was floating. We abandoned all the ropes and anchors just in case that was our only chance to free ourselves. They indeed save our vessel with their courage.
About 150 nautical miles away from Vanuatu, in a confused and crossed sea, the wind was blowing quite hard and the boat was rolling all over the place, we felt a strange feeling, something like Blue Dawn was changing course.
How this could be possible the wind was still in the same direction and the autopilot was on?
This impression was getting serious and we both stand up to evaluate the situation but in just a second we were gybing and we could see our boom coming back towards us at great speed and noise. This I can tell you, is scary, our boom is enormous as we have a full batten mainsail which rests on it. It is approximatly 13 meters long and 1/2 meter wide.
With huge force it was flying back, Geoff was at the helm and I was ready to bring it back in at the winch. We realised that the autopilot had just stopped and was causing the problems.
This is when it hit the boat with a full blow, I was bringing it back in and all I saw were pieces of metals flying in front of my eyes!
I started to really panic and all I could think of was praying. Then the final crash came, the whole mast then the vessel started shaking while the boat was being tossed around a the bad sea state! I had brought the boom back while praying and I could feel salted tears running down my face, I guess I was shocked. I just thought that all the rigging was coming down, and there is 28 meters of it!
But no, as always our good old Trintella had stand it all, the runner had stopped the boom in its crazy race with only a few scratches, the rope being made of spectra just burned but was fine as well. And for the metals I saw it was only two of the self-tailer on the winches which broke apart when the crash happened!
So at the end we realised how lucky we were to have so little damages, we even started talking to Blue Dawn and giving her praise on how good and strong she was. We thanked her for taking such good care of us. You really make such a strong bond with a boat once out there, she quickly becomes a lioness looking after her cubs, always ready for the fight to protect them.
"Sorry to not write as often as we did before but we are quite busy now we are TRYING to do it all by ourselves. And I swear that was not the smartest idea! We are spending half of our day with a manual in one hand and a screwdriver in the other. Covered in hydraulic oil and grease.
It is really glamorous a yachty life!
So, we finally manage to move on our trip and five days ago we sailed away for the lovely small chain of islands in Fiji called, Yasawas (where they made Castaways with Tom Hanks and the Blue Lagoon with Brooke Shield).
But (I hate that word) as we try to go through the small passage between the reef which are not marked we realize that something was wrong because it was just half a meter deep and that is never a good sign! That is not surprising because most of the maps were established in the 1800s, perhaps by Captain Blight himself !!!!!
So here we go, I am alone on that sailboat without a skipper to save me, Geoff who has two left hands and maps from a century ago!!! Oh, Oh very very bad!
As we were anchoring in that absolutely exquisite place a lot of water started being pumped out by the bilge pump and we could see the water going out on the side on the boat. What is happening now? Are we not going to have one quite day just enjoying the sun and the beach?
Geoff run down (it is just a way of talking, he do not actually really run, he kind of slide around!) and shout me: 'there is sea water coming in from the shaft seal because it moved'. I do not want to be more technical so in a few words, sea water do not belong inside the boat!!!! And I do not want to sink after only the first 25 nautical miles crossing by ourselves, we will look really stupid!!!!!
Geoff, Oh surprising cannot fix the thing nor do I, and we are in a very remote place without any other boat, no luck I guess and sea water is still coming in!!!
But we must have a big star in top of our heads taking care of us because two boats are sailing in. We jump in the dinghy and ask they if they could help us. Geoff has spend the last two months in the dinghy asking for help!!!! And now each time we are anchored somewhere no other boats come in, they see Blue Dawn and turn around to find another anchorage!!!!!
Anyway s/v Tucumcari and Allons'y fix the leak for us (see picture while having barbecue on the beach).
And they told us: 'This is how cruising life is and do not worry, you are still very lucky and your problem are nothing until you will run over a reef or a rock!'
Very promising I should say.
The next day Geoff made with the gang plunk a look out for me and now I am spending my days standing on the bow looking for reefs!!!!!!!
So far so good, I did see the different color in the sea warning me of shallows from my crow's nest."