We left Tunisia on Friday morning, after making a donation to the border police’s drinking fund! We had a nice sail back to Sardenia with fair winds and smooth seas. We decided to stop for the night on Saturday after making it to the NE coast of Sardinia. Strong westerly winds 25-30 knots were forecast to arrive by midnight, and we decided we didn’t want to deal with those until morning.
This morning was dead calm so we motored for a while until we rounded the cape and hit the westerlies. By 2pm we had gusts up to 35 knots, and since they were forecast to drop early the next morning, we decided to find shelter for the night (again) before heading across the straight between Sardinia and Corsica.
And then the fun began!!!
We had a double reefed main and single reefed jib and we were scooting along at 10+ knots, then when I went to turn to starboard to tack, the boat would not come up into the wind. Damn!
I tried everything I could think of to turn us, but the helm would not respond. I turned on the port engine, furled the jib and tightened the mainsheet to create some weather helm, but nothing worked. The 30 knots of pressure against us was too much. We were fast running out of room and we had to either tack or bear off before we hit the coast.
The last thing to try was to drop the mainsail and use the engines to turn us. Since we were at 45 degrees to the wind, I had Robin put the traveler down to leeward and I rotated the mast. We could then drop the main and I was finally able to get turn us to starboard using the engines, but the steering was all messed up! I could turn just to port but not at all to starboard.
I aimed us at the right hand side of the anchorage, which was jam packed with boats, so I could turn up to port and try and find a place to anchor. We found a spot inside the mooring field between two super yachts. As we moved into position, the mooring field police came up in their Zodiac to tell us we were not allowed to anchor here. I told them I had no choice because we have lost our rudder. I would need to anchor long enough to fix it and the we would move.
After illegally anchoring, I worked on the rudder problem and found the rudder linkage had slipped on the rudder shaft, so full starboard helm was giving us a centered rudder! No wonder we had problems. I thing the rudder linkage was not tight enough, so I realigned everything and tightened it up REALLY well. With our steering restored we could relocate out of the super yacht moorings, which made the mooring police dudes very happy!
The winds should calm down tonight so we will be able to continue on to Corsica tomorrow.