June 26/11 0700 JST
Position: 24°16'N, 153°39'E
Remaining to Yokohama: 1,100 nm (ETA: ? days)
We've been holding our breath, fingers crossed, and it finally happened.
Saito-san called after midnight to report that the genset had failed. He said he believes the cooling water pump had broken. The genset began overheating and is not usable, and cannot be repaired on the water, he told us at 1:22 am Tokyo time. "I have begun hand-steering," he said.
The seriousness is hard to estimate. With the engine also dead he has no ability to charge the ship's batteries, and that means no autopilot. He can still steer the hydraulically assisted tiller continuously by hand, and while this will be highly taxing over a number of days for a solo sailor, he feels confident he can do it.
Faced with this new situation, Saito-san has decided to head for Ogasawara, part of the Bonin Island group, presently 643 nm away. By 0700 he had progressed 102 nm in the 24-hr period and was making 4.0 kts. Depending on how much he is slowed by rest breaks now that he must hand steer, he should be able to reach Ogasawara in 6 or 7 days. Ogasawara is approximately 4 days from Yokohama.
Previously, the repair stop had been planned for Hachijo Jima, which is an additional 2 or 3 days away from NBSDIII's current position.
A further concern is that eventually he will lose his ability to communicate by Iridium satellite phone, since its batteries are charged by the auxillary genset. He has 2 spare Iridium batteries but the state of their charge is presently unknown. He has 2 spare hand-held GPS units and "about 50 batteries to power those and his hand-held VHS radio," Dave Cooper confirmed from Hawaii. The vessel's tracking beacon that gives his position every 6 hours is also expected to die at some point.
Tokyo shore crew member Hide Katada contacted the Coast Guard this morning to apprise them, and was told that the Coast Guard has a facility on Ogasawara that will be able to assist if necessary. No emergency was called.
Hide-san also spoke to Saito-san, who asked us to contact OkeraNet, a Japanese-based marine radio service. NBSDIII's long-distance SSB radio was in good working order when she left Hawaii, Dave told us this morning. Saito-san will additionally communicate through OkeraNet, as well as to a reduced extent over Iridium, with the anticipation that the phone's batteries will soon become depleted.
Distance in last 24 hours: 103 nm DOG / 102 nm DMG
Total distance completed: 27,329 nm
To Yokohama: 1,100 nm (measured)
To Ogasawara: 643 nm (measured)
Average daily DMG over last 4 days of sailing: 98 nm (measured)
ETA, Ogasawara: ? days
ETA, Yokohama: ? days
Reported boat speed: 4.0 kts
Average boat speed: 4.3 kts
Weather: Overcast; winds moderate; warm
Temperature: 29.0° C
Barometer: 1015 hPa
Wind (from): 8-10 kts ENE, variable
Waves: 1.5 m
Sails: Genoa 90%, staysail 0%, mainsail 3pt reef
Engine: 0 hrs
Generator: 4 hrs; afterward overheating and stopped
[Weather and wind forecasts are from ClearPoint Weather, a Saito 8 Supporting Sponsor.]