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Fabiola - BLOG - Day 2

The wind is dropping as we head further south. It is now a game of tactics to track the best course to find the wind the Fabiola needs in abundance. We are heading South West towards the Cape Verde Islands. A low pressure system is starting to develop in the Atlantic to the North West of our location and will start to pull the winds in towards it as it tracks North East. This literally sucks out the air / breeze from other systems that we need to power us West. What we need is for someone to interrogate the competitions tracks, boat-speed and decide if we are taking the right path... Amores 2 and Northern Child have probably taken some time out of us.As we are sailing early this evening it is evident that Mildred our Hydrovane self-steering) is not happy. She is making a grinding noise. I give her the once over and it is not immediately obvious what the issue is until on further torchlight inspection I see that the supporting wooden and plastic plates, to which she is moored, are working loose. In fact the starboard one is out and the speed through the water is worsening the situation by pressurising the steering blade. It has to come off so that we can look to effect a repair. Tomorrow morning the lazarette must be emptied of 160 litres of bottled water, 50 litres of diesel, ropes, chain and all manner of other things that have been relocated and a thorough examination of what has happened and whether we can get her up and running again. She provides an alternative steering system – should our fail – and is therefore critically important. As I gently drive the boat slowly Ian removes the paddle while Vince is stood by with a line around it to avoid us dropping it 3 miles to the bottom of the Atlantic! It comes out ok. Now wait for the light and we can see what the damage is.In the meantime we have had a gentle night sail, much needed after last night’s exertions. Under a full moon and listening to Noel Gallagher’s violins in Everybody’s On the Run on his High Flying Birds album we are still plugging on at speeds between 6-9 knots. Ian and Vince coincidentally clearly had more breeze as their track of the night is Firestarter by Prodigy! The genoa is poled out – we are just a little too windy for the spinnaker but it is marginal. With three helmsmen swapping 1 hour on and 2 off it is pretty arduous. Kate and Lisa “float” during the day and are on call at night for sail-changes.This morning it becomes apparent that one of the bolts through the transom onto the hydrovane has sheared in half. We empty the transom to see if there is water leaking in but the remaining half of the long bolt is still blocking the hole so we leave it with a good thick blob of sealant to arrest any drips that might enter the boat. We don’t have a suitable replacement that is sufficiently long so it will be either hand-steering as we are doing throughout the day and night or the electronic autopilot which is being saved from the hard work that going downwind in heavy seas creates. It is a blow that the hydrovane is not going to be of any use as it reduces the strain on the autopilot.Lisa continues to make amazing meals for us. This is no mean achievement as the movement is both nauseating and makes it extremely hard for anyone to do anything – let alone produce fabulous food from heavy rolling surfaces. The tomatoes have not fared so well. They are bruised and the attrition rate is high. By following the trail of fruit and veg the backmarkers from Cruising Class need not check the website for Fabiola’s yellowtracker.Gill, Lisa, Cameron & Samuel DuncanS/Y Fabiola

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