Well, we finally pulled out of Chesterfield...it is a magical place, but waiting there for a weather window was getting a bit old after a 9 day stay. Finally the stars seemed to align, and we hoisted anchor in a 20 knot SE breeze. The winds were perfect, but the beam-on 2-3 meter seas were a bit sporty. Provided enormous breaking green waves over the entire boat.....yuchhh.
Shortly after leaving the reef, we noticed that Otto, our trusty auto pilot, was not steering....at all. The hell, Otto, what gives? You've always been Mr. Reliable!!! No worries, though, we have a wind vane steering system called a Hydrovane. Unfortunately, Otto has been SO reliable, that we decided not to mount the Hydrovane rudder, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 7 YEARS of passages!!! Big mistake, as you need to either get into the water in the 10 foot seas, or launch the dinghy....neither looked too good. And its only a bit over 500 miles to Brisbane, no worries!!! Uhhh, no. We hand steered for about 24 hours before the seas calmed down enough for Adam to crawl under the aft bunk to see if Otto's problem was fixable. Immediately saw that the pilot's dedicated steering quadrant on the rudder shaft had completely gone on walkabout.....all 4 bolts had unscrewed, and the bugger was just lying in the bilge!!! A few hours later, and heaps of upside down sweating and swearing, and Otto was back at the wheel! Sweet as...
Next, we noticed that the headsail genoa had no tension in the luff. Since we had just tightened the hydraulic backstay to provide that tension, it called for a major OH SHIT.....we had now blown a seal in the hydraulic, and the backstay was providing minimal if any support to the mast.....a very bad thing. So McGuyver got back off his butt, and rigged our spare main halyard as a backstay to add support. Not great, as it can't be tensioned anywhere near the hydraulic, but at least we won't lose the rig!
OK, good to go now, right? Not so fast.....Last night we noticed a strong thumping noise coming from the aft end of the boat. Thinking it might be related to the Otto fix, we tore the bunk apart again. No joy, all looked fine. So what could it be? We felt like Robert Redford in his awful flick where he hit the shipping container.....did we have a bit of shipping or fishing debris stuck down there, banging on the hull? Looked as much as we could w/ flashlights, but couldn't see anything. So the problem persists, still banging down there. Hopefully its not the rudder going into failure mode, but clearly not much we can do out here. Now only 90 miles to go to Brisbane, and the winds are down to 10 knots....should be ok.
So this little passage has been surprisingly challenging, and completely unexpectedly so! But we'll soon be in Australia, marking the end of our 7 year crossing of the entire Pacific (well, not yet including cruising Alaska.....one of these days!) We're really looking forward to the next year cruising in Oz, and after that??? Indonesia and rest of Asia are beckoning! But first we need to wash off the salt....on Bravo and ourselves!!!