A busy night for Emma, but she’s back up to 2nd

In the last few days Emma Richards and Thierry Dubois have been vying constantly for 2nd place in Around Alone. First one captures that place, then the other. But sailing isn’t all they have on their minds. This report was sent yesterday by Emma after another busy night:

‘Not the most restful night I’ve had. Tried to cook dinner and the stove fuel ran out. No problem, this is the first time I’ve topped it up and still have four bottles on board so no worries there! Thought that I’d better top up the water container before I charge the batteries, so got most of that full before the batteries needed to be charged and while doing that the engine just cut out.

‘Sounded like a simple bubble in the fuel line so went to top up the tank, bleed the engine and continue charging. Again, great plan Emma, but not that easy. When I went to the bleed screw on the fuel filter there was a tiny leak, so maybe that was where the air had got in, so I tried to pump some fuel thru, watch the fuel and bubbles come out then tighten the bolt. What’s not supposed to happen is for drip to turn to a flow, which is exactly what it did!

‘On the phone to Brian, who knows this engine inside out. It was the middle of the night in the States, but he seemed quite happy. Thanks, Brian! We went thru the options if the thread on that bolt was destroyed, and found that it was. To cut a long story (night) short, I ended up fixing the problem with sailmaking thread – don’t ask. It should hold til Cape Town.

‘When I told Brian how I’d fixed it, he said it probably would have been easier using something else and described it in the tool box. Well, I’ll know for next time! After all, that’s how I’ve learned everything I know about engines, watermakers, ballast systems, hydraulic keels, the little I know about electronics . . . .in fact, pretty much all the knowledge I have for this race has come from the last four years of problem-solving on other boats each time something breaks!

‘Minutes after the problem was solved and engine running smoothly again, Robin Gray [Emma’s team manager] called by chance just to check all was well. Told him my story and told him the sun was now shining, I had a reef in but was happy with my 10-11kt average, so I had it in mind that I had a reef in and as I felt the boat loll a couple of times went to shake it out. I had full main up. How bizzarre!

‘Ah the wind has just dropped more than normal, so drop the ballast next. Life is revolving around reefs in and out, ballast in and out and sometimes I just completely forget where I’ve got to, I could see the sail from where I was talking to Robin on the phone, but didn’t even look up as I thought I knew what I had. Hmmm. Definitely time for a nap!

Em x’