Home > Journals > 2004 – 2005: Vendée Globe

Ocean Planet Vendée Globe Update:
Thursday, December 9, 2004
Position 43 20S, 30 02E, @ 17:40 UT

Ups and Downs

It’s been a busy day (do I say that a lot?) here on our southern ocean surfboard. The small high pressure zone rolled over us late last night and this morning giving us several hours of light air, but thankfully not much slatting.

The light air continued long enough today to allow me to attend to various tasks. I slightly modified and remounted the mainsheet bag in the vestibule which the “big wave” from about a week ago had ripped off. The vestibule dodger was also repairable, aside from a couple of small rips that do not matter too much. I sealed around the backup autopilot control head which had been leaking, and spent a lot of time messing with the autopilots.

The primary pilot went haywire again, so my previous fix which was hooking up the suspect control head directly to the pilot servo (brain) instead of going through the instrument server that is hook to the pilot servo. That probably doesn’t make much sense to many of you, but the bottom line is that it worked for several days but gave up again. So I tried it with and without the suspect control head and confirmed that it is indeed goofed up. So, the primary pilot is working fine now, and I have set it up slightly different with the compasses hooked to it…but I won’t bore you with the details there!

Water has been leaking into the aft compartment from both the rudder deck bearing and the lower bearing gasket boot. I did some sealing on the deck bearing and hopefully that helped, but I will know more after the next heavy weather dousing (coming tonight?).

The toughest repair issue is the lower bearing boot on the rudder shaft. Although my previous repair seems to be holding fine, the boot has a couple of other spots that have fatigued and have started to leak. This boot has a tough job, as when we are surfing fast air it tries to suck out the lower bearing which is sealed by the boot. So the boot gets sucked downwards towards the bearing like it’s being vacuum bagged. Then at lower speeds the boot fills with water like a balloon and has to keep it from coming in. This is worse at lower speeds with the ballast tank full (upwind and reaching) since the boat floats lower when “tanked up.”

Anyway, today it was too wet from water leaking in to use the neoprene glue, so for one of the bad spots I made another patch of neoprene but glued it on with a sealant that likes water better. In order to hold this patch and another leak, I had to wrap a lot of tape around the boot to hold things in place. This will limit the movement which won’t matter in normal steering, but if I tack or jibe I must be careful not to put the rudder hard over. Every couple of hours I go and check and miraculously the affair seems to be holding for now. This is as good as I can get until we can be in smooth water and going slow so I can dry everything out and do a better job.

Yesterday I did another interview with the Vendée press center. They caught me right after I watched the classic goofy movie (on DVD) of “Rock & Roll High School” from 1979 with the Ramones. The DVD and great rough rock of the Ramones had me in a much better mood then from the night before where I was frantic with worry about the pilots, etc. So with my mood up, I rambled on with long replies that must have had them wondering if I’d opened my Cape Horn wine early…..;-)

I need a nap now….I’m rambling on here too!

Bruce Schwab, Skipper
USA 05/Ocean Planet


Next Story