Diary of a Clipper Racer

Around the world in 333 days with Mark Osgood

Supporting my chosen charity - "Dreams Come True"

Final Diary entry, 54, added Monday 6th October 2003.

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49 - Race 14 - Under engine  - August 2003

After a lot of very careful consideration, weve dropped our sails and are now motoring towards New York.  The decision was taken by Rory, our skipper, on the grounds of good seamanship and is wholeheartedly supported by the entire crew.

The decision was forced upon us by the insurmountable engineering problems which overwhelmed us during this race.  I shall give a brief run-down of the problems we encountered:

1. The generator coupling failed.  The generator, through the coupling, operates the water-maker, the main alternator and the salvage pump.  Initially, we repaired it with Dacron sail repair tape and jubilee clips and were able to run the water-maker.  We used the main engine for charging the domestic batteries so that we had power for navigation and safety.

2. Spares were collected from Liverpool and Bristol so that we could try to repair the generator coupling.  Unfortunately, they were the wrong size and were of no use.  We went back to running the water-maker off the generator and charging the batteries from the main engine.

3. The main engine starter-motor failed.  We tried to run the alternator off the generator but it broke the coupling.  We dismantled the starter motor and got it working again.

4. Both main engine alternators failed.  We again tried to run the alternator off the generator but it broke our temporary coupling four times.  We tried several alternative couplings but none of them worked.  We managed to get one of the main engine alternators charging the domestic batteries at a reduced rate, meaning the engine was running for long periods of time during the day.  The main engine is very thirsty so our fuel levels were dropping dangerously low.

5. The main engine starter motor failed again.  We dismantled it again and got it working once more.

Rory, Ossie, Steve, Si-Fi and Cookie, who had spent hours in the engine room, all contributed in various ways to the attempts to keep both the water-maker running and the batteries charging.  Despite these efforts, water is now being rationed, as the water-maker is making water at a reduced rate, and only emergency electrical items are being used, as the batteries are not charging efficiently.   The fuel is also running low, due to the use of the main engine for charging.

Rory was faced with the decision to start motoring whilst we still had some fuel left to approach other members of the Clipper fleet to obtain further fuel supplies and to ensure we have an escort should we get into difficulties or run out of fuel (and subsequently power) whilst still a long way from land.  Motoring was the only sensible course and we understand that Clipper have supported Rory's decision.

So all in all, its been an eventful race so far for TGSL.  Whilst we are all disappointed to have to stop racing, we are trying to keep ourselves amused.  Lesley has organised a quiz tonight after collecting details of all of our embarrassing moments, and which person, animal or profession we would like to be in a different life.  Bets have been placed on our new ETA in New York.  And reading has become very popular, especially the books on board about Donald Crowhurst and Tristan Jones, two sailors who experienced much worse than us.

So we are still all smiling!

Click here for diary 50 - Race 14 - Summary of our journey to NY - September 2003

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