Update #42 - 21st November 2000 (1.45pm AEDST)
Position - 51°20' S, 105°55' W

Wind - SSW at 20 knots
Air temperature - 5 degrees
Barometer - 1022 mb and steady
1400 nm to Cape Horn

Firstly let me say a huge thank you to all the supporters who e-mailed yesterday and today, some urging me to find the solution, some saying it's okay to seek assistance, some just saying that they are thinking of me. I really appreciate the effort that you all go to, to keep in touch. Right now I am so busy trying to find the solution that I cannot respond to you all, but I'm sure you can understand that.

By the way, my webmaster is still receiving a lot of e-mails to the tony@sailsolo.com address (or from people replying to my updates). These will NOT reach me out here. The ONLY way to e-mail me on board Solo Globe Challenger is to register with my good sponsors Station 12 (www.station12.com) and then use 450302067@telstra.ves.net as my e-mail address. See my website (www.sailsolo.com) for more information.

After 4 days of nail biting and hard work, I now believe (not entirely) that the mast is stable enough to stay in the boat. I am trying like crazy to stay out here, BUT I will not do anything silly in that pursuit. My brother, Trevor, put it well when he e-mailed me today - "If you do go in to port, then it is not me that has failed, but a piece of stainless steel!". I'm okay with that, however, having come this far I am not about to throw the towel in without exhausting all avenues. I still have 1400 nm to The Horn and it is not necessary to make decisions too early, whilst I still have things I can do.

My broad options are -

  1. Go to a port in Chile and weld the #%*@!>
  2. Round the Horn, anchor in a bay at the Falkland Islands (450 nm further on) and go right over the whole shooting match again, and do things to the mast in smooth water that are not able to be done out here, like detach the rigging. If I go down this track it is okay so long as I do not go ashore, have anyone help me or give me anything
  3. Go to Stanley, (the town off) The Falklands and weld the *#$<!%
  4. Carry on, all is well

There is another scenario but we aren't going to talk about it ..... are we.

What have I done to try to save the situation? I apologise here to the uninitiated if I lose you on some of the sailing terms.

I've been cannibalising the boat for 4 days now, trying to find things that can be used for the cause. When you have finite resources you become very lateral in your thinking - for example, all day yesterday I was seriously considering drilling a hole through the centre of a frying pan and using it as backing plate behind a bolt.

I now have the cored 12 mm spectra strop as a take off (refer to previous update) for a 4:1 block and tackle that attaches to the lower port spreader. It is lead back to a cockpit winch and cranked on. I have raided the under deck tie for the #3 forestay and found myself a piece of 40 x 5 stainless steel flat bar which I shackled to the lower part of the chainplate that is still in good order below deck. I then drilled, hacksawed and generally bludgeoned a slot through the deck fore and aft, just behind the chainplate, through which the flat bar protrudes about 150 mm. I then raided the anchor chain, chopping off about 3 metres which is attached to the flat bar and doubled up.

So from about 1.5 metres above deck, 2 turnbuckles, 7 x 19 flex wire and toggles go to the spreader where they are fastened with cored 10 mm spectra rope and are in tension. I raided the hinged bowsprit for the wire turnbuckles and toggles. I also stole from the bow 2 custom made pad eyes and backing plates that were part of the bowsprit. Today I have drilled through the hull adjacent to the chainplate about 100 mm down from the gunwale and bolted a pad eye onto the side of the boat. From this pad eye I have another 4:1 block and tackle going to the spreader, then back to a winch. Tomorrow the second pad eye bolts on about 200 mm aft. I am then going to really lay into the 10 mm spectra with heaps of purchase. It was a bit scary drilling holes through the hull of your beloved boat deep in the southern ocean and then look out to daylight. I'll have to bog her up later.

What I am trying to do is take as much load as I can away from the chainplate. However there is still plenty on it and now some of the load is where it was not designed to be, so I am worried about the good part of the chainplate failing. As a result, I have hacked away various sundry items like doors, trims, liners, shelves, etc. and installed various bits 'n pieces in a bid to give it support - for example, I used the U-bolts from the emergency steering and bolted them into a shelf with a lump of 100 mm x 50 mm timber (thanks Chappy).

How am I feeling? Positive, thriving on the challenge, but physically tired after the last 4 days. Just remember the eating of the elephant ..... one bite at a time.

See you soon,

Tony Mowbray