Failures and Fixes

18 Feb

February 16, 2019/Day 135

Noon Position: 47 15S  178 34E

Course(t)/Speed(kts): E 6+

Miles since departure: 18,420

Avg. Miles/Day: 136


A slow night has given way to a fast day. Rain in the morning. Then squalls till mid afternoon. Then puffy cumulus as the wind hardened into the middle 30s from the WSW. This surprised me, that the low would come with cumulus and not the solid deck and rain one expects. But as I type, the sky astern has grown dark and heavy. Now comes the low.

We are entering that part of the voyage where gear fatigue and wear has begun to show on multiple fronts, and each day, skipper must focus on keeping his ship together.

Today a knocking in Monte’s pinion gear caught my eye. Investigation showed that my bushing jury rig from a month ago needed a refresher. The forward bushing was worn by well over half and slipping out the front of the unit. Cutting one to shape and fitting it in place was no big job, but I have six new bushings left. Will they be enough?

Two days ago was spent opening, inspecting and cleaning all Wattsy (Watt and Sea Hydrogenerator) connections. Wattsy has started to drop amps during his charge cycles and all indications are its due to a fault in the line. I found no fault. Wattsy is essential. Will he last?

Yesterday I began troubleshooting the irregular failures in the engine alternator. Through the magic of internet introductions, I am being coached by a Chris Harris of Tweeds Marine in Christchurch, New Zealand, a man I didn’t know before three days ago. This unlikely arrangement came about when my friend, Gerd, posted a question for me on one of his forums, and Chris responded with specific and incisive questions. Chris is an electrical engineer who has worked with the likes of Skip Novak and Magnus Day; what good fortune! So far, no dead-ringer cause has been uncovered, but I am learning a great deal about the engine charging system.

Today, while I wait for Chris to digest the results of the alternator tests, I began work on the HOOD #2 sail that has been seated at the salon table this last week. Sewing is not something I take to, but with the help of The Speedy Sewing Awl, a mother-in-law gift from ages ago, progress is being made. This is the most intimate contact I’ve had with this sail since installing it on the bow in 2017, and the more I work with it, the more I am surprised at the clew webbing failure, because everything on it is finely and ruggedly constructed in the extreme. I’m eager to get it flying again.

Except for the engine alternator, all the above items have been in near constant use this and last circumnavigation, and have spent months in one of the most challenging sailing environments on the planet. I’m not surprised we’re seeing failures. It’s just that success requires these failures find fixes.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage


  1. Team Figure 8

    Jim – check out the Figure 8 Voyage website – has all the answers, trackers and details. Bottom line – it’s a double circumnavigation – around Antarctica & the Americas in one season – alone. Never been done before. Thanks for checking in. Team Figure 8

  2. Nos

    What wet weather gear do you wear and how many jackets/ pants have you gone through on the trip, so far? Any thoughts or recommendations.


  3. jim stedman

    Holy sheet man ! I just saw your page on Sail Mag.

    Where did you start from & where are you off to?

    What kind & year is your sailboat?

    Sorry to be such a numb-nut, but this really intrigues me. My most memorable off-shore race was from Galveston to Cancun. We won in ~7 days on a Pierson 36 .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*. Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. For more information, please see our Comments Policy.

More from the AIM Marine Group