As soon as we returned from spending a couple of nights away from the boat it was action stations. Stupid amounts of shopping. Wrapping one’s head around the possibility of not seeing a shop for two or three weeks. Trying and failing to concoct meal plans and shop accordingly. M held himself admirably in check as the boat sank lower into the water with the influx of tinned food, long life milk, rice… The freezer was packed to the top.
It felt rushed. We left Bermagui on Friday 11 October 2019. The sky was grey, there were mists of rain in the air. We headed out to sea – east – with the aim of obtaining a good angle to get to the Kent Group in Bass Strait. The wave action made the Smalls and I fairly miserable. We sucked on Minties and endured.
Then the autopilot choked. Even at the time I was grateful that if it had to happen, it happened then. Last time, the dark of the night made everything much, much harder. It was an opportunity to Ford St Clair to the realities of Life on the Sea. Sails down, rudders up – M dismantled the helm and began poking about.
A ship chugged by, less than a mile away – never radioed to ask if we were OK – a catamaran free floating on the waves. Fuckers. After about an hour I voiced the opinion that we should head back to port while we still had the light. It was agreed. We motored the majority of the way back to Bermagui, each of us taking turns steering.
It became increasingly cold – we tied back up to the jetty in the rain – a young guy from one of the trawlers came out into the weather to give us a hand. ❤️ Blessedly, Ford’s passage meal had been kept warmed in the Thermocooker – a lamb and chickpea soup. Couldn’t imagine a more appropriate food. I had three bowls full and we all retreated to bed.
I will finish via dot points:
- a boat pulled up behind us the next day – their identical autopilot had also died in the same manner;
- after a little persuasion we were allowed to stay another week at the jetty;
- new autopilot parts took only a few days to arrive;
- now it is fixed!
- we had a visit from Jean and Jindi ❤️;
- I felt very unsecretly glad at what had befallen us, and hope that when the wind turns up that enables us to leave, it will be a sunny day with flatter seas.