Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Murphy Strikes!

I tend to get a little wary when things start going too smoothly and sure enough, just as I was congratulating myself in the morning on finally getting out of the Easterlies by slamming NE through the night, both the electronic autopilots went off in quick succession! Hove to, had a quick breakfast of Oats & coffee and got down to finding a remedy. Four bolts holding the Starboard autopilot motor have sheared off making the motor rotate around itself  instead of steering! By end of the day managed to lash up the motor as changing the bolts will involve dismantling the entire steering gearbox and make it impossible even to use the Wind vane. Not sure how long it will hold specially in stressful conditions, for the autopilot that is, so will keep it for using in an emergency. Looks like the rest of the leg will have to be done using the Wind Vane or hand steering. No more comfort of push button steering from inside! The wind played truant through the day so we were more or less drifting around till midnight. Finally started getting a 15 kt NNW breeze and we are back to an Easterly course with the Wind Vane maintaining course.


workerbev said...

Cdr. Donde, you sure seem to be having your fair share of mechanical problems. You mustn't be holding your mouth just right. LOL Both you and Jessica must be so frustrated with the wind, or lack thereof. I'm sure when it does hit though, look out!

Do you think the motor will hold just "lashed" up? You have some pretty fearful areas to go through before reaching the Falklands. For your sake I certainly hope so.

Just a note to let you know I'm thinking of you out there with our Jessica and want to wish you well.

Do Naval Commanders stay "clipped on" as we are ALWAYS telling Jessica to do? I imagine you don't all the time, please do though, for all of our sanity. We worry so much about you solo sailors out there alone. If something "should" happen, and I pray to God that nothing does, it would be prudent to be attached. Like your blog says today "Murphy Strikes" and that he does.

Stay safe please, and God speed. My prayers go with you. Beverly Penney (American (ex-US Air Force) living in Tasmania) Cheers!

The McGraths said...

Hi there,

We picked up your link via Jessica Watson and just wanted to wish you good luck on your journey. Very brave we think.

All the very best with your gearbox problem and we do hope you achieve what you have set out to do.

The McGraths, Nowra NSW

Angelika said...

Cant't write much as I am crossing fingers and toes for you and your boat.Hope you can fix everything, I don't even understand what has broken. I'm not a water person. But than again, we can/t all be as it would get pretty crowded out there. Seems to be getting crowded already, with 2 of you sailors out there talking of "a few miles" between you.

Sail safe and may the winds be with you the way you need them.

Angie. New Zealand

John F said...

Hi Dilip,

I,m another Jessica Watson follower that has "come aboard" with you.
I haven't had the opportunity to read back through your blog yet but your adventure looks interesting.
Sorry to hear about the failure of your steering gear.I hope that you can get it sorted before too long.
Stay safe and keep up the blog entries...I'm sure that they will be as interesting to read as Jessica's are.

Best Regards,
John F.
Brisbane, Australia.

nutralady2001 said...

Oh dear Dilip........... hope you can get everything sorted out OK.

ToSeeTheSea said...

A wee test for you. Problems like this can be solved. You have a very powerfull tool at your fingertips. If you don't have the answer to a workable solution you could put a phot0 online and see what the online community comes up with.
A Raymarine Auto Pilot is a very valuable asset when single handed sailing. I fitted a ST6001 coupled to a smartpilot driving a Linier drive to our familly yacht. It never missed a beat. So what do you have to replace the bolts? I'm thinking threaded rod, or shackle pins, or spectra (low stretch) cordage. Whippings, spanish windlass. Just a few keywords that may seed and idea.
We once fixed our main alternator in place using electrical wire and a spanish winlass when the bolts shared off during a passage from Bluff through Fiordland, the most remote part of New Zealand.
Good luck finding your solution. Remember there is a whole online community that wants to help you succeed.

Toni McLean said...

Oh dear, Dilip, what a disaster! Sounds as though the wind is just too flukey at the moment for the wind vane to be reliable too. Maybe you can lash the tiller/wheel to give yourself a bit of a break from time to time. We had a fabulous yawl which would hold her position well with the main and mizzen set just right so we didn't use mechanical/ electronic steering much at all. Not in difficult conditions of course, but with reasonably consistent winds. But we didn't sail as far as you are either.

At least glad that you are going east again instead of northerly. Fortunately by the look of your tracking, you didn't go too far in the wrong direction!

Hope you get some rest before more rough weather.

Wishing you fair westerlies.

kina said...

Hello Dilip,
the closest I've been to sailing is padddling down the river in a little rubber raft when we were kids lol. Since following Jesse and yourself I'm getting such an education into all aspects of sailing...thankyou.

I'm sorry you're experiencing mechanical/electircal problems and hope it doesn't impede your progress too much.

The light winds you're getting is certainly not what you would expect in that area, tho this time of season there is less severity or perhaps not as often.

Anyway, I hope you don't have any more problems and it all holds together until you reach the end of this leg.

Sale safe and with more favourable winds.

Ben (Qld)

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr. Donde,

Hope everything goes well for you, Ive found out your blog through Jessica's blog. It is great to see that you are half the way to complete your adventure. I wish you all the best.

Marina from Turin

Clint Jeffrey - VK3CSJ said...

Hi Dilip,
Shearing bolts sounds scary, "ToSeeTheSea" has all good points, it just goes to show how much stress things are under not to mention the personal type of concerns (stress) one would have out there at sea...

I hope you get that Starboard Autopilot motor anchored real soon....but at least the winds are beginning to be favourable for you...

Good onya Dilip....It is a magnificent boat you've got there...look after her!


Clint - Melbourne Town

Swati Raje said...

Hi Dilip We are all following your progress and are proud of it. Though it looks tough i am sure you and Mhadehi will reach Falkland safely. With all goodwishes and prayers

RichieParis said...

Good night Commander Dilip!
Very sorry to read about your steering gear. Murphy should be put under arrest.
More seriously, I am totally unable to give you any advice, besides consulting some mechanical specialist by mail or phone. Passing the Cape Horn only by hand steering and some windvane will be a tough challenge. We are all sure you are brave and strong enough to face it, but that's not a good reason for Murphy to strike.
Best wishes for overcoming it and reach Port Stanley soon and safe.

CPO USN (ret) said...

Greetings Cdr Donde. How very proud you must be representing the Indian Navy and how very proud your shipmates must be of you (not to mention the whole nation). To be a naval officer and diver requires a good deal of knowledge in being able to handle the Murphy factor and I am sure you are able to handle most anything that comes your way. I have read your blogs and find your voyage fascinating to say the least. Keep up the good work and this sea dog is looking forward to following you on the rest of your journey. God speed, fair winds and following seas.

Ranen said...

Good going Captain, you are not very far from Cape Horn.....Roaring 40s/50s/60s are waiting for you.....hoping you will have tons of fun/struggle and at last huge amount of success...whenever you get time, put some fotos plz....have a terrific day.....Thanks buddy,
Ranen, San Antonio, Tx

Amazedbyou said...

Hi Dilip,

I am from Australia currently following Jessica Watson as she sails around the world She referred your link to us. I wish you all the very best for your journey. Have fun, Cheers.

Jony the Pony said...

Hi Admiral,
sounds like them bolts did not cooperate. Maybe to much slamming around through them shaking waves. Or maybe you did not see one of them albertos. Jess has seen loads of them floating around.
I am sure you'll fix them bolts, because Indians can fix anything with everything. That is a wellknown global dogma.
Keep up them good dodgers, stay safe and don't slam into Jess.
Jony the Pony

Carl said...

As a chronic complainer of our long and cold northern winters I feel "put into place" by reading about the challenges that you and Jessica have accepted.

Now I am thankful as I look out over the snow and cold in my warm perch in front of my computer as we follow your trek.

Good luck and Godsped.
Carl, Wisconsin, USA

Mike Kay Avon Indiana said...

Hello Commander Donde, Hope that since your post that you have come up with a workable solution. Just wanted to check on you and your progress and wish you well. Having just logged on to your blog as of yesterday I haven't yet checked out all of your adventure but do hope you have safe passage around the Cape and are able to communicate with Jessica Watson. Godspeed, Mike

hezakiah299 said...

12-29-09 @13:20
Hi Dilip,
After reading all your blogs, and the problems you ran into, I'm convinced that there's a black cloud hovering over you. Murphy, Murphy,Murphy. Keep the faith, it's got to change eventually.
I hope that motor will hold up for you, I'm sure you did a good job anchoring it down. One at a time is bad enough, but both autopilots going at the same time is incredible.
Will it all be physical now, or will the Wind Vane be able to handle it?
Glad to see that you're back on an Easterly course with a good breeze.
Take care, and be safe.
I'll keep you in my prayers.
Michael(74) from Kingwood, WV

Old Iron said...

sorry to hear of your mechanical problems.

Hope everything goes well for you in the New Year.

Anonymous said...

Well done, sir.
Think positive, forget Murphy,
all will go well for you.
Blessings to you.
Richard (QLD) Aus

Pete Green said...

Cdr Donde. I learned abouot you and your voyage through Jessica's blog. I will be following both of you. Hopeing for safe passages for both.
Pete Green - Wisconsin USA.

I am watching you said...

Hey Dilip,

Could not resist commenting on your blog...Thanks to Jessica that you have so many well wishers now following your progress and suggesting ways you can overcome the problem you are facing....yes i agree Murphy should behave now...he has troubled you enough on this voyage..hold on ...its only 1800 Nm more to go...hope this problem with auto pilots gets sorted out soon...all the best...you will be in my prayers...
and hoping the very best for Jessica too!! Its very interesting to follow both of you in the same remotest corner of the world..

I am watching you(Mumbai-India)

SaltyDog said...

Cdr. Donde,
I'm sorry to hear of your latest mechanical issues. Certainly could make for a long stretch to the Falklands without your autopilot. I was wondering how well the Wind Vane performs when sailing downwind in light air. I know sometimes all you can do is hold things together with chewing gum and bailing wire. Many times I've held things together with vise grips. You improvise however you can.

I hope for good sailing conditions and wish you the best of luck, Commander.

From Seattle, WA, USA

Vaishali said...

Hi Dilip,
It's nice to see the growth in your blog followers. As much as I don't understand the sailing terminology, I can understand that you've faced some challenging times in the last few days. Wishing you good luck and a very happy, exciting New Year!

Auzziemom said...

Another fan of Jessica's now keeping you in my prayers. Stay safe.

ET Gurl said...

Hi Dilip

Your problems with your bolts is fixed ok just call ooo ask for RACQ give my membership No 696969 & they do a free service call maybe they could check your oil & water as well

ET Gurl said...

Hey Dilip

If all that fails what about a bit of super glue Jessica uses selastic on Ella Pink Lady that works well at the moment anyway lets hope there's no leaks at the Horn

oganiksurfy said...

Hey Dilip! Great to hear you are ok after the technical hitch you've just had. Will be praying for you and your workaround solution to hold together until the Falklands. Following your blog along with Jessie's everyday. pity you did not stop by in the Fiji Islands. Picked up your blog from Jessie's blog. How far behind Jessie are you roughly? God Bless you my friend! regards. Siva

Marie said...

Hi Dilip,
Another fan of Jessica and Abby's "jumping on board" with you... After following Zac's journey as well, you sailors are keeping me busy!! It is so wonderful seeing people from all over the world coming together and wishing you all a safe voyage! Stay safe. I will be keeping you in my prayers as well.


Angus (bris) said...

Hi Dilip,
Lokks like things are going well.
Good luck and smooth seas.

Roger H. Werner said...

Obviously, you know your situation better than anyone sitting in the comfort of their study but rather than risk passage of the horn with a slightly broken steering mechanism maybe you ought to consider making for a West Coast port. Valparaiso is rather out of the way to be sure but Puerto Montt is a substantial port city half the distance between Valparaiso and the Horn. Obviously, you know your boat and have experience so whatever you do will probably be reasonable and rational but a repair before the Falklands is something to consider. In any event, whatever you decide to do...good luck!

Tracie Lynne Hall said...

Like Angelika, I'm not sure what broke. Errrr, soooo, there's a wind vane...and that's kind of an old technology but rather efficient steering device that sits at the back of the boat and looks like a metal fin kind of? And that's the thing Jessica named Parker? But then you also had some kind of auto pilot on each side of the boat and the right one went out? (Did the motor turning around itself affect your steering?) And those auto pilot motors work in tandem with the wind vane? On a boat as big is yours, is the now lone wind vane sufficient? Well, I guess not if you hit strong winds, hah? Since you say you are saving it for an emergency (I'm just guessing heavy winds are an emergency...they would be in MY book) Sorry for all the questions--don't feel you have to play instructor though--whatever the case, I do hope you don't have to be deprived of sleep now to manually steer Mhadei!
Take care Dilip,

Anonymous said...

Wow, sheared the bolts. Must have been some large force on them.

I know a lot of people use an electric auto pilot to control the windvane, to avoid the problems and large forces of the rudder direct on the autopilot.

Do you have an auto pilot on the windvane?

or could you set up your auto pilot to control the windvane in stead of the gear box?


SUBIR said...


1. After the NZ halt and reference from Jessica's blog, we sure have more followers and well wishers. Great show.

2. Do you recall our discussion regarding the auto-pilots while making the specs for the boat? Looks like the wind-vane is finally going to play it's part. Notwithstanding, hope you can get the AP sorted out - will a crack on the back do?

3. Moral of the story - bolts sooner or later give way.

4. I liked the suggestion about being clipped on all the time.

Take Care.

pranay said...

Hi Dilip, We are all following your progress and are proud of it. Wish you good luck and happy new year 2010.
Pranay Chouhan

pranay said...

Dear Dilip,
Wish you happy new year 2010,
pranay chouhan

I am watching you said...

Hey Dilip,

Its not fair after all this struggle of reaching the southern seas that your auto pilots are not working. Damn bolts!!

Just swearing on your behalf...cause i am sure you will be busy thinking every minute about the safety of your boat and yourself. The rational thinker you are i am sure you will succeed in working out something.

Needless to mention you are in our prayers. Cant imagine sitting here in front of the computer what you must be goin' through. Wishing you fair winds and favourable weather.

Take care
I am watching you (India)

Anonymous said...

God speed!
Thinking of you and Jessica and praying for your safety.

Chadi (Montreal) said...

Dear Dilip, been following your blog for abt a week now, since Jessica posted the link to your blog and made us aware of your adventure. best of luck, and hope you find a solution to the autopilot.
Chadi (Montreal, Canada)

Anonymous said...

Commander Dilip sort of agree with fellow blogger Roger H. Werner would consider diverting to Port Puerto Montt or Valparaiso for repairs because for the long haul it would be less stress on Dilip !

Rex said...

Best wishes and good sailing to you, Dilip. Worried and hope all is fine after that storm that just passed through (reading about it on Jessica's website).

Watch for young Jess as you catch up to her in the next few days. Hope you get to at least see each other from a distance, for a bit of company.

I'm following you both from St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, about 46 N and 53 W, in the north Atlantic.

Welcome to our ocean in a few days.

Stay safe,

Rex Gibbons

Kath said...

Hi Dilip,
sending as many good vibes as I can your way, hope the problem gets sorted out, stay safe, X.

oldtrekker said...

I followed the Vendee Globe race and are aware of hardware failures but also know that long distant sailors ingenuity can fix about anything. We can only imagine what is ahead for Jessica and you as you get closer to the Horn and the Southern Ocean. We wish you well as we follow your progress from the snow covered hills of New Hampshire USA.

Anonymous said...

Hello Dilip,
I have been following the progress of Jessica Watson and followed your link to wish you success with your voyage.
However, I see that you have likely burnt some midnight oil trying to come up with a solution for the broken bolts holding the autopilot drive motor...if its any help to you, I offer the following idea to try for a temporary fix,
1. Do you happen to have a 12v electric drill and drill bits and some 1/4 or 3/8 diameter self tapping screws ? will depend upon what size the originals were.
2. drill out the broken bolts and try installing the self tapping screws through the autopilot mounting plate holes and into the
now drilled our boltholes??
As I said, its just an idea but you have to be creative under these circumstances other than heading for the nearest port.
Best of luck anyway.
From the Bras d'Or Lakes. Nova Scotia.

Lesley Carew said...

Hi there, I have picked up your link from Jessica Watson and follow you daily like I do with Jessica's blog. I would like to Wish you a Happy New Year and all the Best with your journey, may you have good winds and easy sailing. All the best, take care and my prayers are with you...Lesley Carew - Australia

Lesley Carew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Commodore said...

Great Going Dilip.Murphy was always correct!Here is wishing you a happy New Year fair winds for your epic voyage.Take care.
Commodore Surinder Mongia

Anonymous said...

Hi Dilip,
Hope you have been able to solve your problem. Hopefully Murphy has finished with you now. He is really testing you. You seem to be getting plenty of advice. Hope things do not become to rough.
Keep safe,

hezakiah299 said...

12-31-09 @ 04:00
Hi Dilip,
I wish I could offer you some constructive help, but I'm afraid I can't. Since this isn't your first time out I'm sure you'll come up with a suitable fix. I do wish you good luck and will keep you in my prayers.
Jessica went thru a bit of a storm yesterday and was escorted by a dolphin. She made it alright.
Take care Dilip and have a Happy New Year.
Michael(74)from Kingwood WV (USA)

Anonymous said...

our thoughts and prayer's reach out to you both out over the waters you flow with easy, only to share your thought's back to all of us who hold on to your every word. An when your happy it makes us full of joy to, You tell us it's cold we ask you to keep warm, you tell us where you are at as we seek out on map's to see for our self's just where and what might be around you and where you are at. We hold on to every thing your doin... and wish it was us right by your side... An when the your all a lone in your mind.. just try to stop and think just how many people all over the world is looking and praying for you... then I am sure you'll know that your not all a lone..

God is with you I am sure for I pray for you and jesse each and every day... to give you both a very good sail'n day... and fill your sail's with wind to carry you a way...

so God be with you my dear friend's..



koda sri vatsa said...

hey skipper ,greetings from t66 , great going... guess the year had to end with a little more excitement...as though you hav'nt had enough. hoping your next year has more joyous moments and glory than the one gone by! Cheers!!!! take care

workerbev said...

Hello Cdr Donde - Beverly here in Tasmania, Australia. I am so sorry for your mechanical problems. Do you think the lash will hold? I see that you are getting gobs of advise. I tell you, some of the ol' Salts from Jessica's blog are soooo intelligent. They have been there and done that. But you also have been there before, so with your experience and knowledge I pray your "temporary" fix will be "permanent" until you get to the Falklands.

It is 2355 hours here in Tassie, so 2010 is almost here. I want to wish you a very HAPPY, HEALTHY, AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR FOR 2010!

I am praying that God will guide you and keep you in His arms for safety sake and that a Legion of Angels will be around you, guiding you safely and keeping you happy.

AGAIN, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Beverly Penney (American ex-Air Force VietNam-era vet, living in Tassie now) HAPPINESS IS INSIDE YOU!

Georgia Guy said...

Hi Commander Donde,

Just wanted to wish you a Happy New Year and hope that your temporary repairs have handled your steering problem and will continue to do so until you reach the Falklands.

Hope to receive an update from you letting us all know how things are progressing.

Again, Happy New Year.

Georgia Guy

Old Iron said...

Happy and Safe New Year

Pete and Nancy in Keene, NH. USA said...

Cdr. Donde,

Just want to wish you a very happy new year. I just got sent Jessica Watson a new years message as well. Big thanks to Jessica for letting us know about your blog. We're following both of you as well as Miruno Saito. Sounds like it's getting a bit crowded out there. Happy new year and safe sailing.

jwb777 said...

Hello! Just stopping by to wish you a Happy New Year! Know you will be glad to pass the Horn and head to the Falklands for those repairs. Keep up your good work!

God bless you in the New Year!
Janell, in Oklahoma, USA

Rich Cantrell said...

Dilip, No word for a couple of days. Hope all is well. Send Happy New Year Greetings from San Antonio Texas USA. Wishing safe sailing as you move into 2010. Rich Cantrell

cloudburst said...


Jonathan@Tooradin said...

Hi Dilip,

Heres wishing you a very HAPPY and SAFE NEW YEAR !

While Murphy can be insidious and pesky, my firm belief is in the "Law of Averages" - everything evens out in the end and what lies ahead of you will be something only yourself and just a few others (at this time Jessica) will/have experienced. That is a privilege of proportions one simply cannot quantify ! Its the next best thing to breaking free of the earth's magnetic pull and experiencing the weightlessness of space.

Good luck Commander, fair winds and happy sailing.

Melbourne, Australia

Anonymous said...

Greetings Dilip and my very best wishes for the new year to you.
I have just read your most recent comments and, although there is no doubt as to your followers' concerns about your safety, I must say that I have complete faith in your ability to "soldier on" so to speak, without an automatic pilot. I'm sure you've had plenty of prior experience sailing without the mod-cons of today. Rendering your auto-pilot unserviceable does not place you in immediate and grave danger. It's not like you've lost your rudder completely or anything serious like that. I'm sure you are a very capable and resourceful seaman and can jury-rig just about anything but hell, if all else fails you do what the Joshua Slocums of the world did back in the good ol' days.....back to basics, right? You can do it and you know it. Believe in yourself and you abilities when force to the limit. After all that is part of this whole challenge, right?
I have complete faith in you. You are doing an admirably marvelous and awesome job and I wish you fair winds and calm seas for the remainder of you voyage.
With all my sincere respect and admiration, I salute you. Happy New Year, Sir.
Kindest regards, Sam

Dreamsailor said...

Just a qiuck comment to wish you all the best for the new year and i hope all the goals that you have set yourself are accomplished without too much stress on you or your good boat,

Happy new year

Dreamsailor, miami, florida, usa

Gyaneshwar said...

Hi Bharat Wala, Keep up the good work. You are an inspiration to all of us. Sorry to hear about the auto gear problems. I hope it turns out ok for you. Our prayers are with you all the way for a safe and memorable journey. Prakash [Melbourne,Australia].

Susan said...

It's amazing to sit here and think about you two souls (you and Jesse) so far away in the southern oceans.
Since India chose you to be the first solo sailor around the globe, I know you have what it whatever it takes...ingenuity, fortitude, or...?
I've traveled in India, and I know the can-do attitude and flexible ability there, so God willing, your troubles with the autopilots won't give you too much grief before you can pull in somewhere for repairs. Falkland seems like a long ways off though.

The new year begins in 15 minutes, and so I hope it is a good one for you, and sees you safely home.
Many Blessings,
Susan in Oregon

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Dilip,
Hope you have sorted your problems out and you are making good progress.
Hope 2010 brings all you set out to achieve.
Keep safe

workerbev said...

Crd Donde, I know you are busy with your problems with the AP, but just a quick word to let us all know that you are safe and okay. Maybe "telltale" could update us as Jessica's shore crew does when she can't "stop working" to update her blog. Also, maybe Commodore Subir, maybe you could as you seem to be "in the in crowd" as far as getting the Cdr up and sailing from the start.

I wish for all of you a HAPPY, HEALTHY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR. New Year's Day is almost over here in Tasmania but the beginning of a new and wonderful year is to begin. It'll be better this year!!!
Beverly Penney (Tasmania)

Prabir said...

Tough deal, I guess, Dilip but feel confident that you will handle it well. Just as you have so far. Its truly thrilling to have been following your trail from the time Mhadei was made ready! You are well ahead.

Happy New Year to you. With time, you too are moving on, unerringly. Keep on and may fair winds be with you.