Today was mostly beautiful sailing, but the day’s excitement was provided by the discovery of about 12 gallons (50 liters) of water in the bow compartment. It had been dry as a bone for the whole race until today.
Fortunately I found the leak fairly quickly. Our bowsprit enters the bow through a carbon fiber tube/housing that is mounted in the wood at the very nose of the boat. The housing is very strong and is fine, but there was some light carbon/fiberglass covering over the outside of the joint that had cracked. Water was coming into the crack, then the housing, then draining into the bow.
I simply hung over the bow and applied rubber putty over the cracks and used my wet fingers to form it. There was plenty of water splashing me, so keeping it wet was automatic. So far so good! Today I also poured one of our extra jugs of diesel in to the main tank. We still have well over half of our fuel left which is nice to know.
Another thing that I noticed was that we had obviously hit something small and hard with the bow, about half way down to the water from the bowsprit. Whatever it was pushed in a dent of a couple inches. But since our bow is mostly a foam “false bow,” it bounced almost all the way back to its original shape. Just like it was supposed to work, which is reassuring!
Who knows what we hit, but the dent wasn’t there a few days ago. Perhaps a small piece of ice? I doubt it, but last night we passed through an area of water several degrees colder than before or after. We did pass not too far north from where the Chilean weather service had reported a group of icebergs. This brings me to this week’s subject on our Ocean Sciences websites, http://www.oceanplanet.org/, and www.bigelow.org/vendeeglobe, which happens to be ICEBERGS and SEA ICE!! What a coincidence….;-)
The radar is on all the time now, but I haven’t seen a thing. It helps to not think too much about it, especially if you are surfing fast. I am intentionally staying slightly north to avoid most of the reported ice, but Nick Moloney on Skandia went even farther north and reported three big objects on radar that were probably “bergs.” Yikes!!
More pics soon, I promise!
Bruce Schwab, Skipper
USA 05/Ocean Planet