Sir Robin Knox-Johnston loses liferaft and faces concerns over leaking hydraulic ram 30/1/07

Velux 5-Oceans Race

Log date Tuesday 30 January 2007
Position Lat 48 43S Long 168 35E
Miles To Norfolk, USA 11,467 nm
Distance In 24 Hours 182.3 nm
Average Speed In 24 Hours 7.6 knots

Still sailing blind onboard Saga Insurance, Sir Robin Knox Johnston remains in 5th place in the Velux 5 Oceans race, as he is the only skipper unable to sail tactically with the full complement of weather information and routing software.

Similar to his round-the-world voyage in 1969, Sir Robin is reading the weather as he sees it and reacting accordingly, rather than having the luxury of planning ahead to avoid the frequent gales in the Southern Hemisphere. This is a major set back to his race, although the team still hope to resolve the issues. This also means that Sir Robin is unable to relax and get proper sleep for long periods of time as he needs to be constantly apprehensive watching the weather around him.

Not much sleep last night as Saga Insurance was being thrown about quite a lot, also it was very cold. That was one gale behind us and now we have another on its way expected late tonight. Consoled myself with a tasting from a good bottle of red wine, but could not find the corkscrew so had to push the cork in. That meant I could not seal the top so I decanted the contents into an empty whisky bottle. The red wine is now slightly fortified.

It was interesting to see the difference ballasting the aft weather tank made. It certainly made the boat ride more easily, full marks to Groupe Finot for designing them into the boat.

Set more sail as soon as I could see this morning, the problem being able to see to negotiate the mainsail round the lazyjacks. As I was doing this I noticed a line trailing aft and went back to pull it in only to discover it was the liferaft painter. Some time during the night the raft had been swept from its alcove in the stern. I think it was about midnight as I felt a slight tug then and wondered, for a second or two, whether we had caught another fish net.

The rules require us to carry two life rafts, but that is my big Solas one lost. The lashings are intact so suspect they may have slipped off the ends, a small lashing holding the two together would have avoided that. My concern then was the inspection hatch from inside the boat to the liferaft alcove. It is protected when the raft is there, but vulnerable on its own. I have lashed a spare grab bag filled with all the banners into the alcove they break up any following sea that tries to hit the stern and hope it will be good enough to break their force.

Whilst in the lazarette I noticed the hydraulic ram is still leaking oil from its motor, but I still cannot determine where. You cannot miss the leak; the lazarette is like an ice rink. There were also three holes in the transom where people installing equipment had ignored the proper gland and just drilled a hole. One firm had fitted a gland to one of their wires but not the other, quite disgraceful. You cannot watch everyone all the time but those holes have now been Sekoflexed.

Spent a lot of to-day working on comms but I think we have exhausted our possibilities with the new Iridium. I got a Friday job. Why it worked OK to start with and then suddenly went difficult I do not understand.