Steering cable nightmare/Torres Strait/Capt Cook's path!

Tues 7thAug07

Was about to leave Adolphus Island & final item to stow was my dive gear - left out since Cairns where I got it serviced. What a good thing I hadn't put it away before..... I spotted a strand of wire on the battery box.. I lifted the underbunk cover further for'd - horror of horrors..... the steering cable was absolutely shredded in area around a sheave- REALLY in a mess & hanging on by just 2 thin threads - lucky it got me this far.
I knew I had spare cable and I'd bought bulldog grips in San Diego, ready for rigging emergencies, but I felt sure I would have trouble cutting through cables (old & new) & also thought I'd need another pair of hands to keep tension on whilst trying to replace the damaged section. I put out a call on VHF, although, to be honest, I didn't really expect any useful reply, since so few boats are around & those that are are usually big ships, not small sailing boats. The pilot of a ship I'd spoken to the day before came up - willing to help but only able to suggest I try to get to Thursday Island for help - a good few hours sail away... Then, to my delight, 'Anitra' came on frequency - they were headed to Thursday Island and would divert to be with me shortly. Great news!! I actually needed more bulldog grips & they had some small spares. I was very lucky they were close by and able to help me.
Geoff was able (with great difficulty!) to use my croppers to cut my spare rigging cable - which we then found was way too stiff AND wouldn't fit into the sheave groove. I already had out some thinner cable (used for hoisting dinghy) so we used that (was JUST long enough & far easier to cut!) and eventually replaced the damaged section, using 4 bulldog grips, with more-or-less the correct cable tension... took quite a time to complete.
By now it was well gone teatime - so I suggested they go back to their boat while I cleared up & stowed everything away ready for the next day's passage & then I'd make them dinner - we had steak and freshly-cooked ratatouille & got to bed rather late!

Wed 8th Aug07

Wasn't up too early this morning!! But I'm now having a good sail on passage to Darwin - passed Capt Cook's stone cairn around 1030 on way past Possession Island - excellent current and good wind meant I was doing around 8knots SOG!! ... I hoped it would continue but after a while I had to let out all reefs - wind was way down on the previous 20-30 knots....

Later: Just exhausted myself!! Got a genoa 'wrap' as I was getting pole organized - took ages of heavy physical effort to persuade it to undo - I need a bit more body weight, I reckon, would have made it easier.... but eventually I undid it & poled the genoa out.

I still can't get over how lucky I was to find my steering cable problem before disaster hit me! That's the second time I've been lucky in that way - last time was last May when I was just about to take off from Pt Townsend for San Francisco offshore. Why has it gone so soon?? Cable wrong type? Too stiff maybe?? Strands woven differently? Rigging, not steering, cable?? Clearly, though, it's not running through the sheave properly.

I've now lost the nice tide advantage: Boatspeed 6kn, SOG 5.4.. We're gradually getting away from the big area of shallows as we sail W from Cape York Peninsula & the islands to the NW of it (Thursday Island, etc)- depth has been down to below 9m but slowly getting deeper.

The couple on 'Anitra', who helped me yesterday, stopped in Escape River - I mentioned that I'd given it a miss having heard about unmarked nets & difficult shallows around the entrance - they agreed - said nets were horrendous (pearl fishing, they seemed to think) - shallows bad also... they'll avoid going back there!! Seemed very concerned about crocs also, both there & at Adolphus Island...

At sunset, as the sun sank, it appeared again below a cloud, so I saw it clearly as it dipped below horizon ..& then, AFTER it disappeared, there was a tiny 'blip' of green - a tiny 'green flash'!! Not a major event, but only the second time I've actually seen a proper 'green flash' rather than the sun turning green as it disappears - which is not a flash at all!

Written by : Mike

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