We had a very near miss last night. A vital steel pin in the Aries came out. This meant that effectively the upper half of the vane gear was dismantled in situ, and suspended 4 feet above a very chilly and turbulent Southern Ocean. Suddenly Aries was steering us all over the ocean. Dave dropped all the sails while I went aft and grabbed the pin as it was about to fall into the ocean. Without that pin, we were facing the prospect of hand steering the boat 24/7 for the next month.
Remantling the vane gear was an exercise worthy a film clip. In pitch black with dancing headtorch I stripped down and went over the stern to re-engage the bevel gears. Intermittently up to my waist in ocean, I spent 45 very chilly minutes tinkering as we rolled and heaved about. All ended well. Well, well-ish – the Aries now works asmmetrically because I didn’t get the gears centred properly. Now we steer very well on port tack but balance now needs to be critical for the vane to work on starboard.