Who am I? I have been sailing solo for quite a while now without touching land, over five months in fact. An amazing number of pieces of equipment have already failed or are beginning to fail. I've made do. I have passed the famed capes of the Southern Ocean and am now in the Pacific. Here is what has broken so far, as I remember:
I remember a lower shroud fitting broke some time ago, giving me a few headaches, and one of the other deck fittings.
Then a winch seized, but I've got it going again in a kind of a way, and others are getting scratchy. I wish I could service them at sea, but the motion makes it difficult. The jaw fittings on the genoa pole are unreliable and the mast cars are giving problems, making it difficult to fly the genny.
The main engine and generator seawater pump impellers have both had to be replaced. The wind vane broke. I had to work out a fix for that, and it's working - in a kind of a way. I had to replace the rudder and jury rig two other parts of the mechanism. That was funny, but out here there was no-one to work the camera. I had to tie myself onto the stern of the boat and lower myself into the water to replace that rudder and do the other repairs. It took a long time, but the weather was not threatening so it was okay.
Just had all that fixed when there was no gas supply to the galley - it was the solenoid valve, and luckily I was able to mend it.
The autopilot system failed some time ago, so it was just as well I was able to get the wind vane working. I am worried about the wiring to the solar panels, it has chafed and I need those solar panels badly.
The wind generator has turned up its toes and died. That was because of the breakage of a welded joint on the pole support. This also meant that I lost my radar at the same time. Constant salt air is not good for my Iridium satphone. She lasted a long time before deserting me, leaving without that comfort that I could contact home at any time.
The electric windlass has ceased to work - of course I won't need that any time soon, though it would be nice to know that I could anchor to make repairs on some fine day in shallow water.
The mainsail mast-track insert seems to have corroded, so I can only use half of the mainsail. The wind instruments have failed, as have two computers and one remote monitor. My only ability to contact the shore now is through ham radio operators, who are kindly sending this information.
I think that's all, but over the last 220 days or so it's hard to remember all the breakages. The good news is that half a mainsail and my faithful genny, if a little the worse for wear, is taking me almost in the right direction, and I only have a couple of thousand nautical miles to go.
If you hadn't guessed already, it's 70-year-old Jeanne Socrates. When the tough British solo sailor reaches Vancouver (she's roughly abreast of Hawaii on the home leg) she will become the oldest female to complete a solo sailing circumnavigation of the earth, non-stop and unassisted.
But the really extraordinary thing about all this is that she is basically self-funded with a very small amount of sponsorship along the way. It is her third attempt at a non-stop unassisted solo circumnavigation and she already holds the record as the oldest female circumnavigator with stops.
by Lee Mylchreest - 10:56 PM Sun 26 May 2013 GMT
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