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8th July 2006

After our last update, the weather changed and we had a lot of lighting and some rough seas. We all slept well though, as if knocked after breathing so much fresh air! We have seen a few boats and ships on the way. We still have a little fog now and then but not as bad as before so we have good visibility for one mile.

After a night watch and a change of shifts we noticed that the voltage of battery had dropped well below 12V. This was low for starting the engine and yes, when we tried, the engine wouldn't start! We felt like we were back to square one!

Mark started working on the engine straight away. This was around 4:00am UK time. He replaced a very worn fan belt with a new one, and switched all the electricals off, including the GPS, chart plotter etc. Luckily Jeff and Mark have a hand held GPS navigator which will be useful if Mark doesn't succeed in solving the engine problem.

After replaced the fan belt, we let battery rest for few hours before trying to start the engine again. Sadly it still wouldn't start. Jeff's face now changed to a worried state. Mark went into deep thinking mode, trying to think of another way to get the engine working again. Gerry just smiled and said “welcome to the old days” - no more electronic aids. We were reliving the experience Gerry had for three weeks on his last journey.

It is now a few hours later and Mark is still thinking hard, trying to fix the problem. Jeff is also thinking through "what if” options. Gerry, however, just sits and drinks his whisky, looking at us and reminding us that this is what sailing is all about. Sadly for Gerry, Mark is around and is determined to solve any problem we encounter. Mark's attitude is that nothing is impossible and we won't fail! He has drawn up a plan that Gerry and Jeff don't think will work. He points out that we have two 6V batteries which are used for our torches. Both batteries are as new. He plans to join both batteries and clip them onto the yacht's battery for a few hours.

A few hours have now passed and Mark wants the engine started. Gerry disagrees, wanting to wait longer as so that the engine can be fired up without any struggle. After some further discussions it is agreed that we all let the Skipper start his yacht's engine.

And we have a miracle: the engine is back to life again! We all cheer and thank Mark for his quick-thinking mind. But, as engine is running, Mark discovers that it's not charging the battery at all! Mark starts looking at the wiring and suspects that the module that controls the charging of the battery has failed. Mark bypasses and now it's charging and everything is back to normal. We all help with cleaning up the boat as it has become a mess after Mark had to chuck all our bags out in order to gain access to the engine. Luckily we have calm weather.

Jeff decides that tonight he would let Mark sleep all the way through to the morning as a reward for his first night shift. We all go on deck and look at the sunset, take videos and photos. Sadly photographs and video won't show you exactly what we are seeing. It is so beautiful!

The sea remains calm, with a low wind. Mark carries on working, sorting out bits and pieces, like filling the fuel tanks, which is easier to do during the calm.

As Mark goes to sleep, Jeff and Gerry watched the stars, trying to name them. Gerry decides to get his revenge on Mark who had earlier taken photos of Gerry and Jeff while asleep, teasing them badly. Mark was cruel but funny at the same time. Gerry therefore took a photo of Mark but it woke him up and he just smiled, knowing that he'd been caught this time.

We had a nice breakfast of cereal bars and coffee. Now Mark is collecting weather information from Maxsea, writing up his dairy for the website and taking photos. One of these photos will be going with this email. As Mark is busy on the laptop, Gerry and Jeff are preparing the yacht for a storm which we think may be coming and may otherwise catch us by surprise. Gerry wants us to be well prepared if it does.

We are now about 2,800 miles away from Troon, 42degree13'.730N 060degree09.276W

There are many long days to come but it also means more news and photos.

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