Pacific Ocean

Island Coyote: from Panama to the Gambiers with one rudder and under SpeeJonk!

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After a few days, we noticed a fault in the autopilot’s angle indicator. The captain put this down to an electronic display problem, and didn’t pay it too much attention, as in any case he couldn’t do anything about this kind of problem. Twenty-four hours later, the autopilot started to deviate considerably from its course, bringing Coyote back on its course with a lot of difficulty. These deviations were repeated and became closer together as the wind strengthened; we were obliged to reduce sail by one reef, then two, and finally three, to limit the deviations from our course. We were then on a beam reach with 20 to 30 knots of wind and a rough sea. Coyote was well under-canvassed, and was becoming very uncomfortable. We inspected the technical area and checked the rudder stocks, the quadrants, steering lines, rams…everything seemed to us to be in order. A few days later, the wind and sea calmed down and allowed us to see below the waterline, and we then understood the origin of our problem; the starboard rudder had disappeared. We were now sailing downwind with very little wind; Coyote’s handling was very difficult and laborious. So we changed our tactics, furled main and jib, and set the SpeeJonk. Under this sail, the autopilot proved to be well balanced, it no longer forced or deviated from the route. We still had 2,500 miles to cover, and thanks to the SpeeJonk, we reached the Gambiers as planned. This sail, fitted on a horizontal furler between the two bows of a catamaran, is very easy to use; it is controlled by a simple spinnaker halyard and a furling line. It offers several advantages: easier maneuvering shorthanded, direct route with the wind dead aft, no risk of gybing, the sail doesn’t flog. Its biggest advantage being that it can be reduced by rolling, the same as a genoa, allowing it to be used ...

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