New watch wakes to find an unresponsive rudder

“This is our fourth day at sea. Wind has been light, though we did get the odd few hours with 20 knots or so. We managed to fly our spinnaker for 36 hours, but now we are back to our jib with pole and the main. We keep going south, hoping to be able to get the trade winds and avoid the low pressure that is in the middle of the Atlantic. According to the last weatherfax we saw, the centre measures around 380 miles and there is no wind there. We would have to burn more of our fuel to go through it, so we hope we don’t need to.

Last night we had some panic. It was 02:00, Adrian was on watch and he suddenly woke me up to tell me the rudder was not responding. I tried the wheel, and fair enough, there was no response. Also, the autopilot when we tried to engage it showed an ominous message: “NO RUDDER”. I thought we had lost the rudder, and I couldn’t understand how that could have happened in light winds and almost no waves. I took everything out of the bulkhead that has access to the rudder and found the problem. Some bolts that hold the quadrant to the rudder came off so it was not working on the rudder. It was easy enough to put them back – once we could find the nuts – and then everything worked fine.

We are enjoying some great cooking as well. We had beef today (only the guys since the girls are vegetarians) with mashed potatoes and some spinach cakes. We ran out of boat made bread, so I will be baking some more soon.

The morale on board is high, and the only worry is about finding the trade winds. We do not want to go against the wind all the way to the Caribbean.

I’ll keep you posted.”