The past 24 hours has brought with it a few tales of frustration from the boat, that have ended up playing out into an amusing and somewhat comforting solution.
It started with an SMS to say that the roller furler had broken. This is the mechanism that allows the foresail to be brought in or out. With it broken, Aroha could only sail under the main sail. Fine when motor sailing but less than satisfactory when under wind power. A temporary fix was found for this though and all sounded to be more settled. Wind direction was still working against the guys and the sea was still on the bumpy side.but progress was being made.
When I got my regular evening satellite phone call from Bryan though, things had taken a down turn. The story as I got it was that they had encountered a rain squall and that somehow in the process this had knocked out the auto pilot and chart plotter systems. The autopliot is one of my favourite toys on the boat. Infact, I would go so far as to say it falls out of the luxury category and into the "must have" bucket. The auto pilot is like an ultra sophisticated cruise control in a car. It takes control of the boat and effectively acts as another crew member - one who is constantly at the helm!! It can maintain a course to steer, it can follow a set track, it can even adjust its course if the wind shifts direction. Ours is made by Raymarine, and is affectionately called Ray, and legend has it that "Ray" lives under the cockpit floor and appreciates the occasional sacrifice of a sandwich or drink to keep him happy - but needs nothing
else to be a contented and industrious crew member. There is a story that a woman once sued a car manufacturer for her believing that once she set cruise control on her camper van she could leave the steering wheel and go and make a cup of tea. She crashed, but claimed it was because the instructions were not clear!! With "Ray" you can actually make that cup of tea - though to be fair his eyesight is poor so doesn't pick up on passing boats and ships so some human intervention is needed there.
Life without "Ray" is not impossible, but spending hour after hour helming is exhausting. When I spoke to Bryan he cried, "we are all going to have arms like Popeye!". At this stage he had already put a call into one of the Raymarine guru's in Dubai. The fault was actually reading data from the onboard course computer, this is the gizmo that feeds information the chart plotter and the autopilot. Various things had been suggested, but communication was difficult - not only due to the sat phone line, but Kumar's indian accent, and his use of more technical terms was not moving things forward. Once I knew what was happening, I offered to take over speaking with the Raymarine guys and ultimately ended up heading to the home of another of the technicians at 8pm last night - for a full "diagrams n all" tutorial on possible fixes to the problem. The technician's name was Lloyd. He is a great guy, and I had met him when he was undertaking a
previous repair on a similar problem some months back. There was a weather vane issue at the same time and he volunteered to go to the very top of the mast to reinstall a part, saving me from making what would have been a terrifying journey.
I spent about 2 hours at Lloyd's home, a small room shared with his parents and his sister. He had downloaded various installation reports so I could see exactly what Bryan needed to do and provided cable so I would be able to describe exactly what was needed. Great stuff! In the midst of all this, his parents explained that they belonged to a church that believed miracles could be achieved through the power of prayer. They said they would prayer for a miracle and that everything would be fine. The mum gave me some magazines that explained about the church, and I admit to thinking "oh my - here we go.." but it was comforting to know they had this faith and that even if a fraction of what they believed was true, then it had to be worth a go. I actually said "let's hope your prayers work, because otherwise I am airlifting Lloyd in by helicopter to the middle of the Indian Ocean". The dad smiled serenely, looked at his son and said, "there
won't be any need for that."
I wake this morning to the regular 6am chirp of my text message from Bryan. It reads, "nice conditions, laundry day, all equipment working ok, touch wood..." They hadn't had to do a thing, at some point in the night, the problem had rectified itself. I am not about to turn into a bible basher, but whatever happened, however it happened, it counts to me as a miracle!!!
Another small miracle occured last night - I don't know the full tale, but is something to do with the Indian Coastguard and the donation of 100 litres of diesel. Bryan has claimed that blog as his own - not sure when he will do it, the email is still not working - reckon we need just one more miracle for that!