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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 -
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,