Day 419 [Nov. 26/09] -- Repairs and replacements

Position (1300 JST)
53°10'S, 70°55'W -- Punta Arenas

Today's Report
Our apologies for the infrequency of updates, but the situation in Punta Arenas and efforts to restore Nicole BMW Shuten-Dohji III back to fit sailing condition have only recently become clear enough to announce.

Upon return to Punta Arenas, Saito-san reported that the genoa head sail was ripped during the second transit of Cape Horn, after he was forced to use it when the staysail furler became inoperable and the sail could not be deployed.

The Hydranet (Tm) staysail was later determined to be ok, but the Dacron genoa was badly damaged, especially its bottom panels. (Hydranet is material considered the best for heavy weather sailing, while Dacron is light enough for genoa use in milder conditions.)

Later it was determined that a part of the staysail furler drum had become cracked so that the sail could not be reduced or rolled up.

We received these photos of repairs Saito-san had done at a local awning factory, below, but there was a consensus within the Saito 8 safety committee that without professional attention the badly torn genoa would probably be unsafe.

Discussions then turned to where proper repairs might be done, and it appeared that the closest sail loft was in Buenos Aires, 1,200 miles to the north. Enquiries to the company by email determined that the only Dacron cloth they had on hand was less than half the 12-mil thickness needed.

We then turned to the original sailmaker in Auckland, and they met all the sail specifications plus had the original sail dimensions and design. It was consequently decided that a new sail would be ordered from there rather than send the old sail to Auckland (and back) for repairs.

This was our safest and fastest option, but also means Saito will have a completely new sail and will still be able to use the repaired sail as an emergency spare.

Today we were told the new genoa has been finished and will be shipped Friday. It will likely arrive in Punta Arenas within the next 8-10 days.

Meanwhile, the engine is also receiving close attention by Hanaoka-san's mechanics. They decided the injectors and pump need replacing (sourced locally), total engine maintenance must be carried out, and new, clean fuel brought on to replace the contaminated fuel that caused the engine failure.

Saito-san has been in good health, saying there have been no residual problems from his hernia surgery back in October. He has been assisted by several local residents, Rosalynde and Pablo, as well as his (and our) "guardian angel" Hitoshi Hanaoka.

Rosalynde writes:

To cheer Minoru up we took him to see a special tall clipper ship called the Stad Amsterdam yesterday. She is sailing around the world following the voyage of Charles Darwin in The Beagle. A Dutch TV company is following this journey and televising it live once a week.
They have their own website at

We were given a tour and he really enjoyed being on the bridge having a chance to take a good look at the navigational maps. The crew on board who met him had great respect and asked for advice from his sailing through the Magallenes Strait.

Here are some pictures of that trip. The Stad Amsterdam has now set sail through the Strait to Tompkins Bay.

Our continued thanks to Rosalynde and Pablo for their many kindnesses shown to Saito-san, and to our sponsor Nicole BMW for the emergency assistance graciously provided for the genoa replacement.

Hanaoka-san is now such an important part of the Saito Challenge that thanks are perhaps superfluous, but we still want him to know how appreciative we are for everything he has done ... and will do!