Namibia to St. Helena…..Day 7

Namibia to St. Helena…..Day 7

May 31st, written the morning of June 1st, 2013 (WESTERN HEMISPHERE) Time: GMT/UTC

Good morning everyone! It\’s blowy outside. Yesterday, the winds were again light and we flew our full main, big reacher to starboard and genoa to port on the spinnaker pole. The winds were supposed to be coming from the SSEast by yesterday morning, but a squall line came through and the winds were from the SSWest. In the lighter winds, this was okay as it kept us reaching on port tack, but a bit beamy to the still SWesterly swell out of the Southern Ocean.

At 2 p.m. local time yesterday, we crossed the PRIME MERIDIAN! We are now back in the Western Hemisphere. I wrote a friend last night that it seemed strange to be in southern latitudes and western longitudes and NOT be in the South Pacific.

About 4 p.m. the winds finally clocked around to the SSE then SE during the night. We\’ve had a single reefed main to starboard and the staysail (which is half the size of the genoa) out on the pole to port. Winds have been 18-27 knots with a few gusts in the low 30\’s. In other words, we\’re going pretty fast again. The new increased speed gives a chance to be at St. Helena around sunset tomorrow, but we\’ll see how it plays out between now and then. We should be able to see the island at least 20 miles out as it\’s tallest peak is 588 meters (just under 2,000 feet).

One of the interesting things we\’ve discovered is that despite our steering now working fine, our starboard rudder is still slipping relative to the port one.
We thought we had this licked, but apparently not. I noticed that the auto pilot was over steering consistently to port about 7 degrees. This is not normal. The auto pilot rarely favors steering to one side more than 1-3 degrees. Hence, I went to look at the rudder alignment which is in the engine rooms. What I found is that effectively, for several days no less, we\’ve been \”pidgeon toed\” on the rudders. The port was trying to steer left due to the fact that the starboard was trying to steer right. I\’m sure this did NOT speed us up in the light air conditions we experienced for the first days.

When I re-aligned the rudders, a simple matter, the boat seemed to go a bit faster and the autopilot stopped favoring a course correction to the left.
As we \”hand steer\” when reefing and doing similar maneuvers, I\’m now wondering if fluid at the wheel is not leaking back getting them out of alignment?
I\’ll consult Denver and crew at Meridian Technologies in Cape Town via email and see what they think. We have not tried manual or electronic alignment systems yet; this may be on our horizon (quite literally). The good news is that the steering is working, no air bubbles seem to be in the system and it\’s just another one of those \”boat bites\” that we long distance sailor types have to deal with. Just as good a news, the refrigerator continues to work with the backup thermostat.

We\’ve received a nice email from our friends on \”Sunflower\” who were at St. Helena a few weeks ago giving us all the local contacts and details. Thank you Dave & Kathie!!

Not much more to report other than it\’s exercise day and that should be quite a challenge in the now a bit more boisterous conditions.
It looks like we\’ll do about 170 mile day; Miss Piggy is starting to stretch her legs a bit…
Position Report up in half an hour…
Feel free to drop us a note,
Scott and Nikki