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Walkabout - Day 17 - Holy Hydrovane said Skipsy - It's a Blooming Miracle!

S8:42.4 W130:58.0

The miles to go are gradually coming down - less than 500NM to go now. We have just clicked through 12000NM since leaving the UK. Interestingly, Tom has done 5000NM of these miles with us since joining Walkabout in February - that is some big miles for someone new to sailing! And earns Tom a new tattoo - a swallow - which is the traditional sailors tattoo to mark every 5000NM sailed. I think it would look nice on his neck - just above the collar line. Others may have a different view….!!

Yesterday was a bit frustrating - all the weather indicated that the wind would be filling in and we would be making reasonable speed under sail. There were many false dawns to the arrival of the wind, and a bit of Hokey Cokey with the sails and engine as we tried to make reasonable progress. But at 1800 (Walkabout Time) yesterday the engine went off for the final time (hopefully) and we have been sailing ever since with the Blue Water Runner, poled out to port, boomed out to starboard. We currently have 15knots of wind, making 7.5knots straight to Hiva Oa.

The second refuel happened yesterday - still no fuel barge out here, so jerry can to main tank was the process. Having topped up, the calculations show that we have 246 litres of diesel remaining. If needs be, we could motor about 470NM with this fuel - and we have just passed through 470NM to go. Really hoping that we won’t use any of it for motoring over the next few days - the forecast indicates sailing all the way.

The Walkabout Clubs and Societies had a fairly quiet day yesterday, aside for the Baking Club who produced one of the best loaves of bread so far - a blooming stunning bloomer! The Fishing Club is still waiting for it’s licence to be returned (there may be a sneaky line in the water this morning - don’t tell the Catering Club).

The Games Club have spent a few hours over the last few days mulling over some quiz questions sent out by Into The Mystic and Tam Lin. A wide range of topics covered, and no internet access for a sneaky cheat - so it is down to what you know (or don’t, as it turns out!).

There are many bits of equipment that we rely on to safely sail Walkabout across oceans. One of the most amazing additions that we made to Walkabout before leaving the UK was our Hydrovane. This bit of kit defies logic in many ways - it looks very simple, to the extent that you think it surely won’t work. But boy, does it do a job! The Hydrovane is a wind vane self steering system. It quietly steers the boat according to the wind direction.

On any sort of long passage, hand steering is a real chore - particularly when short handed like us. So everyone relies on some means of autonomous steering. The vast majority of boats use an auto helm system, linked to the nav system, driven by an electric motor or hydraulic ram. The forces are big and the power usage is significant. We have such a system, and it is great. But it eats power and what if it failed…? (As has happened to some boats already on this venture).

So we added the Hydrovane as a secondary means of autonomous steering. But I can report that the Hydrovane has been very firmly promoted to our prime means of steering. It has done the most amazing job on the crossing, having been in charge of our heading for probably 80% of the trip. (The auto helm gets used when we are motoring, due to the lack of wind for the Hydrovane to work with). The bright orange wind vane bobs from side to side on our port quarter, adjusting it’s own small rudder to keep us heading in the right direction - using no power at all. It is a blooming miracle!

The next time I write this blog may be the day we arrive in Hiva Oa...

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