Saito-san called this morning by Iridium to report that last-minute repairs continue to go smoothly.
Meanwhile, here's a nice update /summary published today by SailWorld.com Asia, on "Never-Say-Die" Minoru Saito.
The genoa was arriving in Santiago, Chile, today and was to be received in Punta Arenas either today or tomorrow by Gonzalo Avilés Stewart of Ian Taylor & Company, a local importer that has been helping us locally.
We should learn soon whether the sail made it through Chilean customs ok.
Our thanks to Gonzalo for his personal and careful assistance in this matter.
We received word today the new genoa has been shipped from Auckland and is expected to be at Punta Arenas airport by Dec. 3. Barring no import difficulties, the sail should be in Saito-san's possession by Thursday or Friday. Our thanks to the folks at Evolution Sails, Auckland, and Nicole Racing, Yokohama, for expediting the shipment.
Meanwhile, to better attend to engine and electrical repairs, the vessel is scheduled to be lifted out and placed on a cradle on land on Dec. 5. Currently it is difficult (not to mention potentially dangerous) for the electricians and other repair people to go by small dinghy to the boat at its mooring.
NBSDIII herself will also be safer and less subject to the windstorms that come up periodically and make shore-side moorings risky.
On the list of repairs as indicated by a fax from Saito-san yesterday:
Also, a small but persistent leak in the aft head, which has proved impossible to source on the water, and is likely a leaking through-hull fitting.
Saito-san reports that NBSDIII is moored at the Coast Guard receiving station and that yesterday he cleared immigration back into Chile.
The boat was to be towed back to the port facilities used by Hanaoka-san's company, where the engine and generator will be fixed, the fuel tanks cleaned, and the staysail repaired. The leak in the aft head will also be traced and fixed.
No schedule is presently set but it is expected that the work and inspections will take a week or more to ensure that the vessel is back in good working order and fully ready to resume the circumnavigation. He said a decision on departure can only be made after the engine and generator are repaired. All fuel will be replaced after the tanks are cleaned.
Saito-san expressed his thanks for the messages of support he has received.
At 0830 local time Saito-san called to say he had arrived in Punta Arenas. He was exhausted and disappointed, but clearly glad to be be back where the engine and generator can get professional attention. The contaminated fuel will be cleaned or replaced and the tanks flushed.
We will provide updates over the next several day as we learn more.
His "circumnavigation" from Punta Arenas, around the Horn, and back to Punta Arenas was 1,400 nn and took 10 days. Of that, 182 nm were under tow.
When he is ready, he will resume from the west entrance of the Strait of Magellan, and will not have to make a third transit of the Horn to fulfill the route requirement of his No. 8 circumnavigation.
By 1700 local time Nicole BMW Shuten-dohji III had been towed 84 nm east on the Strait of Magellan, and had another 98 nm to go to Punta Arenas.
We have heard no word yet from Saito-san, but can assume he is catching up on sleep and resting after 7 tough days at sea.
Despite the setback caused by engine failure from contaminated fuel, he did succeed in passing Cape Horn. When he restarts it will be from the Cabo Felix lighthouse, on the west side of the Strait.
Saito-san and the Coast Guard vessel meet at approx. 0435 local time. NBSDIII is now reported under tow to Punta Arenas.
Position (1645 JST)
Nicole BMW Shuten-dohji III was expected to be under tow at approx. 2300 hours locally after Saito-san managed to return in strong winds and heavy (5.5 meter) seas to the entrance of the Strait of Magellan.
At 0435, 5 1/2 hours later than scheduled, we received word that the rendezvous near Cabo Felix lighthouse was successful, and NBSDIII was under tow. No further information was immediately available.
About 18 hours ago he lost the use of his staysail, and with a partially opened jib foresail, he sailed under highly difficult conditions approx 30 nm back after he learned that a Chilean Coast Guard vessel would rendezvous with him. We were told that the Coast Guard vessel could not enter into the waters of the Pacific Ocean to assist Saito, but rather would have to wait until he entered the Strait on his own.
We are still waiting to learn what happened with the staysail. Saito told Hanaoka-san, the Chilean shore crew chief, by Iridium phone that he could not furl the sail, so it is believed he lowered it completely.
He lost the use of the engine and aux. generator on Saturday due to contaminated fuel. Both are essential to recharge the ship's batteries and to go against the contrary winds and currents during a westward passage of Cape Horn.
Initially he was asked to proceed up the coast, but later we received new instructions that he should rendezvous with a Coast Guard vessel at the Cabo Felix lighthouse, approx. 26 nm inside the Strait.
To conserve Iridium phone battery power he did not call in and thus did not receive the new instructions until hours later. At the time of yesterday's 1600 JST beacon we could see he had moved past the entrance to the Strait. Sea conditions worsened as he began to make his way back with winds in the high 20s and seas of 5 meters.
He will be towed to Punta Arenas, about 130 nm. This port is where he restarted his circumnavigation on Oct. 24 after a 6-month repair layover. It is the only port in reach with adequate facilities to repair the engine and aux. generator.
He has called to provide updates on his situation to Mike Seymour, Saito 8 Safety officer. He has also been in contact with Hitoshi Hanaoka in Chile, who is serving as liaison with the Chilean Coast Guard.
We express our great appreciation to both for their handling of the emergency, and to the Chilean Coast Guard for their timely assistance to Minoru Saito.
The 11/01 1600 (JST) beacon report showed him to be still about 25 nm from the entrance to Nelson Channel at the west entrance of the Strait of Magellan.
Position (1600 JST beacon)
At 0230 JST Saito called to report that the engine would not start and neither would the aux. generator used for recharging the batteries. Because the hydraulic steering system depends on power from the batteries, this requires that he make for the nearest port in order to get the engine and generator back in service.
It is thought that the fuel lines and filters are blocked by particulates due to fuel contamination. Saito has struggled with reduced engine rpms since before crossing Cape Horn 4 days ago as the problem worsened.
The closest port is about 130 nm east on the Strait of Magellan, at Punta Arenas. He restarted his circumnavigation from Punta Arenas on Oct. 24.
A Chilean Coast Guard vessel has been summoned and is expected to rendezvous with NBSDIII in approx. 12 hours at Cabo (Cape) Felix, a lighthouse about 26 nm east. It is expected that Saito will need a tow as single-handed sailing is impossible within the twisting and frequently narrow channels of the waterway. As well, the batteries would not last long for the hydraulically assisted steering.
He has a separate tiller system that can be rigged in emergencies.
He called Tokyo at 0700 to explain his situation to Mike Seymour, Saito 8 Safety officer. He has also been in contact with Hitoshi Hanaoka in Chile, who is serving as liaison with the Chilean Coast Guard.
The skipper and vessel were both reported to be fine at the time of his last call to Hanaoka, and under sail in 19 kt favorable winds from the WSW. Seas are large at 4.5 to 5.0 m, but will reduce to 3.5 m as he enters the west entrance of the Strait with its more protected waters.
A good day of progress with steady but reduced winds and relatively flat seas at 2.5 M. A moderate cold front is beginning to make itself felt, and is expected to last about 20 hrs. It will almost immediately be followed by a second front. Both will bring winds in the high 20s to high 30s, from the WNW and W.
At about noon yesterday Saito-san passed the furthest westward point he reached during his first Cape Horn attempt in April. "I'm making good progress," he reported. Improved boat speed was thanks to use of the fully open staysail, with winds at a close reach mainly steady from the west. The angle to the wind improved yesterday as he began to turn more north.
Both fronts can be expected to have passed within about 48 hours. A third front will follow soon after, although by then he may be north enough to miss the worst of it.
Iridium reception was good. Both 12-hr beacon reports were received normally.
Saito-san will call in his next position at 1400 JST today.
Yesterday's cold front lingered and was still over Saito-san's 0800 JST position, although seas were already down a bit at the time of his call, dropping to 3.5 - 4.0 m waves and 22-24 kt winds from the west.
Clarifications received from Whiting Power in New Zealand indicated a third "secondary" fuel filter equipped on the engine that was installed by the Auckland company last year. This filter is apparently causing reduced fuel flow due to particulate build-up. The filter may or may not have been replaced in Yokohama before departure by a diesel mechanic, but in any case there are no spares aboard that Saito-san can locate. (The engine-mounted fuel filter is in a self-contained cartridge that cannot be opened or cleaned. Saito-san reports having 4 spares for the aux. dual-filter system that was installed in Auckland during the refit.)
This morning preparations were being made to arrange delivery of a replacement filter by DHL to Punta Arenas, and Hanaoka-san, who continues to provide immensely helpful shore support there, was making arrangements for the filter and additional primary spares to be picked up by Saito-san in a port up the coast.
Until the spare filter can be handed over, the engine will see less use, and the sails, which have been kept furled in the strong opposing headwinds, will begin to see more service. At daybreak Saito-san unfurled the staysail. Boat speed rose to 5 kts from an average 2.6 kts as a result.
A new front is expected in about 27 hours, refreshing the westerly headwinds into the 30s, and seas will rise to over 4 meters. The effects of the front are expected to last about 24 hours.
We asked Saito-san to be sure to maintain adequate sea room as the stronger winds will try to push him toward the lee shore, presently about 35 nm off his starboard side.
Iridium reception was good, at near-cell phone quality. We received no locator beacon report yesterday, but one came at 0410 this morning. Normally two are received in a 24-hr period.
Saito-san was expected to pass the furthest westward point he reached in April, by about noon today.
[See our earlier commentary during Saito-san's first Horn passage attempt in April.]
Saito-san will call in his next position at 1400 JST today.