Solo sailor Pip Hare, author of our Advanced Sailing Series finds herself on a French submarine base...

It has been a long day of fiddling, getting my boat back up
to racing spec and noting down all the wear and tear caused by our headlong
charge across the Atlantic. Frustratingly, every little task seems to take a
thousand steps. I keep finding a hundred things that are not quite perfect,
mostly due to corrosion, the boat owner’s nemesis. That’s what happens when the
boat is left damp over Christmas, I suppose.

One problem was with my autopilot system. I fired up the
computer and it worked fine. But when I plugged in the ram that had taken me
all the way on leg two of the Transat, there was no action. I tried the second
ram. Then the third. Still no life.

The first tool I reach for in these circumstances is the
multimeter. Even on a boat as basic and tiny as the mini, a multimeter is an
essential piece of kit – I take one everywhere with me. A failure in the
electrical system could mean no pilot, no lights, no navigation system, no
communication. Course, I would be fine to carry on without any of these, but
losing such electrics tends to blunt your competitive edge.

So, I dug out the multimeter from the plastic box that has
been its home for the past few months. It flatly refused to power up. Nor did a
new battery help. It had got wet – game over for this piece of kit. A quick
sprint to plug in the autopilots became a marathon; a van safari to the closest
DIY store then getting lost in French rush-hour traffic en route.

By the time I had returned to the boat, a thick fog had
rolled up the estuary and was sitting heavy over the submarine base here. It
was late in the evening, so the clouds had an eerie green light, made all the
more spooky by the hulks of the submarine silos looming over me in the murk.

I was alone on the boat, water dripping off the shrouds and
rigging. I dropped a tool and the clatter from my boat, travelled into the open
silo opposite, bounced around off the walls and came back at me as a boom.

It was quite a change from this past week. The Figaros have
been out training and Banque Populaire is in the middle of the marina. All
around us 40s have been lifted in and out to be weighed. And all the time the
minis buzz around, often being towed behind other boats and always active.

It would be fascinating to set up a time-lapse camera to
create a day at the base. Actually, scrub that – there are enough jobs on my
electrical ‘To do’ list as it is.

Read Pip’s last blog here