by Bob Williams
Fedor Konyukhov, the Russian solo circumnavigator reported problems early today with a bolt connecting the starboard rudder on his Open 85ft yacht Trading Network Alye Parusa.
Antarctica Cup Racetrack position
The 56 year old sailing adventurer, who is trailblazing an extreme sailing course around Antarctica, first suffered problems while rounding Cape Horn last Monday when the bolt connecting the rudder to the above-deck steering assembly suddenly failed. This had been newly fitted before he left Albany, Western Australia at the start of this Antarctica Cup Challenge. Fedor quickly replaced this with a spare bolt but this too failed early today after only a few days.
Fedor laid his yacht hove-to for a period to improvise a second repair and is now heading on a North westerly course towards the Falklands Islands at 5.7knots. The Antarctica Cup Race Control Centre at Albany, and Fedor's shore team are monitoring the situation closely.
On Sunday there was no concern in Fedor’s mind when he reported: 'The Falkland Islands are 200 nautical miles astern. Passing through this part of the South Atlantic Ocean gave something new to my daily routine. Trading Network Alye Parusa was suddenly surrounded by all sorts of marine life. The changes came as soon as I had crossed over the Burdwood Bank south of the Falklands. It was certainly unusual to see the depth meter suddenly reading 50-80 meters under the keel after averaging 5,000 meters since passing the New Zealand shoals. The waters here are blooming with life. There are plenty of albatrosses with around 15 following my wake, together with polar dolphins and whales. The ocean has a strong smell of seaweed.
On Saturday morning my Active Echo Radar detector suddenly sounded an alarm signalling a radar wave signal from another vessel. I found a ship off my starboard bow on a collision course. I transmitted my call sign over the radio and notified that I’m a solo sailor heading for Western Australia. The officer on watch recognized my accent and asked if I am Russian. Then he asked – 'Are you Fedor Konyukhov…?' I was puzzled and ask him why? He responded, 'Who else can be down here in the deep South on a sailing yacht that talks Russian?' We had a nice chat over the radio. The crew is from St. Petersburg and have re-supplied South Georgia Island and the South Sandwich Islands for the coming winter. Now the ship is heading back to Montevideo. They told me they had very rough weather a few days ago, which was no surprise to me. It was good to talk to fellow countrymen when half way away from home.
Then on Saturday evening I heard Japanese speech on VHF channel 16. I checked the radar – 2, 4, 6, 12, 18 miles – nothing. The area was clear. Just in case, I broadcast my standard radio call and suddenly I could see a clear mark on the radar screen, three miles off my port side. I ran on deck – it was a Japanese fishing factory ship over 100 meters long. They responded to my radio call and changed heading. Five minutes later they disappeared from my radar screen just as suddenly as they had appeared.
When you have not seen any vessels for weeks – two ships within 24 hours looks like a heavy traffic situation.'