When 600 miles out I had to reset the storm sails for a gale squall. It was rugged work; several waves broke over me on the foredeck, and once I was bucked clean into the air.
At the end of the day I had just got below and was sitting, fagged out, when I was faced with getting on deck again for another schemozzle – the tell-tale compass showed that Gipsy Moth was away off course. I started pulling on my wet sea boots, mentally groaning and cursing, when I had an inspiration. I had been eating some shortbread, and the tin was on the end of the swinging table just above the tell-tale compass.
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I pushed the tin along the table, and the compass needle swung back to the right heading. Gratefully I hung up my boots again. Who would have thought that a tin could have been so highly magnetised? 7 June. The charging motor spluttered and went dead with a squealing squeaking noise. I tried to turn the flywheel by hand but it was seized up solid. Finis the charging! And no charging, no transmitting.
The first thing I did was to dig out the cabin paraffin lamp, some candles, and the paraffin riding light. I must save every little watt of electricity for transmitting. When I next transmitted I described the disaster and asked for advice. I cannot describe the hours I spent during the next few days grovelling and fumbling in the bowels of the ship connecting and disconnecting wires and terminals, removing and refixing floorboards, engine covers, battery box lids, while kneeling on the cabin floor of a jumping, lurching, pitching, rolling and (I could well believe) laughing ship. In the end I had the 24-volt batteries of the radio-telephone wired up to the 12-volt dynamo of the auxiliary motor, but as soon as I started up the motor, the propeller shaft began to turn. That was no good – I was out for a sailing record. I switched off hurriedly, and after failing in various different ways, I finally stopped the propeller shaft from turning by winding a length of cord round it and making the end fast. But after running the motor for sixteen minutes it was so hot that I had to stop. 9 June. Big news! In the middle of the night Pidge gave tongue – roucou! Roucou! Perhaps he was feeling better, or was it only a dream in the dark? No, in the daylight he suddenly began imitating an eagle! Standing head up, chest out, he spread his wings like the eagle of the old German flag and flapped them bravely, hopping on his toes. In the morning I made a tent for him with two thicknesses of old canvas which I stretched from the cockpit coaming to the edge of the seat. I provided him with a plastic bag for a ground sheet.
I worked hard on the engine, head down under the cockpit and arms at full stretch beside the engine. I had to work by feel, because my arms left no room to see. I only just escaped being seasick. The result was a failure.
On deck I found that I had lost my sense of balance, and could not walk along without holding on all the time. I had to sit down to change headsails when the job required both hands.