Posted by: Vegard Bleikli | 07/02/2013

No wheel, no worries

1Brimstone Hill Fortress

Still in awe from our Plymouth visit we set off from Montserrat towards the neighbouring islands St. Kitts and Nevis. We left the rough and exposed anchorage of Montserrat at midnight and arrived in Basseterre, St. Kitts, the next morning.

4August and his massive gun

In St. Kitts’ cruise ship infested capitol the US dollar was king, and too many it’s wanting slaves. Still we found a relatively quiet beach and had ourselves an ever so little vacation. A short ride away the huge Brimstone Hill Fortress could be found, and of course it lured us closer. Located on a hilltop, it had an amazing view over the surrounding land and ocean. It was built by british forces to reclaim territory from the french, and in 1782 it was put to the test. 1000 british defenders managed to fend off 8000 french soldiers for a month, before they (after running out of gunpowder and tea) surrendered. But political events in Europe made France return the island to the UK just a year later.

3Where 8000 french failed for a month, 3 Norwegians succeeded in an hour

2Morten scouting for enemy activity

Having quenched our thirst for forts and beaches for a while, we again found our stations and lost contact with the world. This time the plotter was set towards US territory;  San Juan, Puerto Rico.

10 hours in to fast and bumpy sailing the steering wheel suddenly and violently did absolutely nothing. With no steering the boat shot up against the wind and the sails flogged dangerously. We furled in the head-sail and the boat stabilized. The sea was rough, but with a reefed main sail and help from the motor we just managed to make our way against the wind and waves, towards the closest island, using our weak auto-pilot. We anchored leeward of the dutch Saba to assess the situation, and could confirm that the wire connecting the wheel to the rudder had snapped. After 30 minutes of digging through our biggest stowage space we found (of course at the very bottom) the emergency steering tiller. An emergency steering tiller sounds like a piece of fancy safety equipment, but is no more than a short metal tube with a bolt at the end. It’s heavy and inconvenient to use even if just going by motor in calm waters. Fast sailing was no longer an option, we had 150 miles to go and one of our crew had a plane to catch in Puerto Rico. With no time to stop for a potentially lengthy repair, we set off with just a small headsail, the windvane and a prayer of good weather. And good weather we got! Light winds and gentle waves saw us slowly but safely on our way, and it turned out to be one of the most comfortable crossings we ever did. It took us 3 days to cover the 200 miles, which is about double of what we expected. But arriving in one piece in San Juan made up for all the extra tanning we had to endure during the extra time spent at sea.

8Arriving San Juan at sunrise


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: