(TheOceans.net) Its been touch-and-go with Bhavik Gandhi since he discovered water leaking in three compartments of his stern three days ago, providing yet another devastating setback that could jeopardize the future of his Atlantic crossing and may require an emergency rescue.
I have been able to narrow down the source to three possible places on the fiberglass back, Bhavik reported on Wednesday. First, the valve where the cable for the foot steering goes through to the outside. Second, the joints of the fiberglass panel that holds the rudder in place. Third, the joints of the metal panel that reinforces a mooring loop on the outside.
I've sealed off the fiberglass and metal panels with sealant, he said. The valve has been secured with tape and plastic bags. Fingers crossed for now. I hope its going to hold against water pressure from the outside. No idea as yet about the leak from the hull. I will have to examine the hull from the outside. Will also have to wait and see if the repairs hold up in rough weather.
In the meantime, the land team has been notified of his situation, and Miss Olive is being tracked by two on-board Argos satellite beacons. Because the rescue team is on standby, Bhavik is asking that no one call or message him at this time, as he is trying to keep the line open for emergency use.
Still room for hope
Observing the leak for the past 24 hours, the water has increased to about three liters, Bhavik said. There is a possibility that this may be equal to the height of the sea level outside and it may not increase beyond three. The total of five liters could have been caused by accumulated water from the leaking hull, breaking waves as well as condensation. Its hard to say at this point.
After shifting around the contents of the boat to adapt to the leak, the boat is even more unstable, and with no rudder or substantial weight in the stern, even more difficult to compensate for.
Time slipping away
The water leak couldnt come at a worse time. Just last week, Bhavik was lamenting the time he has lost since removing his rudder on March 28 and suffering from averse weather conditions, which, all in all, has put him about 52 days off schedule.
I feel a bit more stressed than usual, at the slow pace progress, watching time slip away and the hurricane season get closer, he said. When I started from Spain, I had estimated a time of 90 days at sea for my 2,499 nm crossing (4,623 km), assuming an average speed of 25 nm per day. With 90 days of time, I was hoping to finish by the end of May, before the start of the Atlantic hurricane season in June.
Running out of food and water
As of today, I have yet to complete 1,535 nm and my speed over the past week without the rudder has fallen to an average of 15 nm per day, Bhavik said. This works out to 102 days in addition to the 40 days completed, he said. With a fair bit of rationing I should be able to stretch my water (assuming the desalinator cannot be fixed) and food for another 80 days. That still leaves me short of a 25 days without food or water.
So it looks like Bhavik will need to be making contact with someone soon whether it will be a rescue team or re-supply team remains to be seen.
Bhavik Gandhi (India) will head to Antigua in 'Miss Olive' in an attempt to be the first Asian to row solo across the Atlantic.
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