Maybe it was the bananas, hanging so innocently in the cockpit, or perhaps we shouldn’t have left on a Friday. More likely, it’s time I accepted the adage that cruising is simply an exercise in fixing your boat at exotic locations. For the past 2 weeks we’ve fixed our boat in the open ocean, every day. We left Pangkor in Malaysia, sun gleaming off our freshly painted hull, the boat laden down with provisions and chocolate stuffed in every available space, proud of our well prepared selves, Our itinerary is ambitious and limited, Malaysia to Sydney, as fast as we can safely manage, stopping only for fuel and fresh provisions. It was time to get back to reality and lucrative employment. When we weighed anchor at Pangkor Island, we waved farewell to the land, next stop Kudat, some 1000 or so miles away.
First day at sea, the salt water pump in the galley leaked puddles all over boat, necessitating a day long repair activity.
Second day a sea, more puddles all over the galley. The culprit this time was a blocked drain in the flooded anchor locker, seeping its contents under our bed and beneath the settee. A trickier fix, we had the heave to in choppy seas and head winds for Fred to clamber in and poke around with a screw driver to clear blockage. No more flooding, but the scent of damp now pervades our cabin.
Third day at sea, in the frantically busy Singapore harbour with 20 knots of wind on the nose, while avoiding giant cargo ships, a sickening ripping sound heralded the demise of our mainsail. The seam above the third reef had given up and the sail flapped wildly and uselessly in the glaring light. It took the rest of the day to motor painfully and slowly through the shipping lane, against the whipping wind, choppy seas and strong current to a safe spot to anchor. We feared Paul, our lovely new crew member, may be losing faith in the boat. Instead, he was a dab hand with a needle and thread, and after a day of what he dubbed the ‘Blair Stitch Project’ we were back on our way.
Day 4 at sea, another sickening rip, and the resurrected sail gave up again, the fabric ripping all the way across. No stitch job could fix it this time but at least the damage was further down so we could roll up the sail on the second reef and continue on. It would slow us down and potentially require a stop in the Philippnes for a replacement but we could keep going.
Day 4 at sea, later that afternoon, more ripping, another seam gave way, rendering the sail unusable and our spirits a little lower. But there’s not much to keep you occupied on a calm day at at sea, so day 5 was spent on deck with our sewing kit, an up the sail went again.
Every day there was something new. The autopilot packed up, freshwater pump failed, the spreader light smashed on deck, fishing lure was eaten by a fish too impolite to offer himself for dinner in return. We added some self inflicted problems just to keep us busy, breaking the gas regulator on the stove, leaving only one burner. It keeps us busy.
It seems the sea is conspiring against our rushed schedule. The need for a new mainsail is now inevitable. So instead of dashing through the Philippines as planned, we might now have an extra couple of weeks waiting for the sail to be made. The cruising life is not ready to let us go just yet.
Location:South China Sea