After taking almost a month to cross the Indian Ocean in his Akilaria Class 40, Chinese sailor Guo Chuan has finally left its environs by crossing the Sunda Strait in Indonesia. Chuan is aiming to be the first Chinese sailor to solo, non-stop circumnavigate. He is two thirds of the way to his goal.
From the press release: Crossing Sunda Strait of Indonesia today, Chinese sailor Guo Chuan is going a further step nearer home. He has been disturbed by little wind in the past few days and has been struggling to break away from the Indian Ocean, on which he’s been sailing a 40-foot boat for nearly one month.
According to the position report on last Sunday, the wind was only around five knots and the boat speed fell drastically to 2 knots. Life was getting even worse as the temperature rose to 35 degree in the day time amid light winds.
“It’s hot and burning on the deck so I have to wear some sun cream when working outside of cabin”, Guo said over a satellite phone, “the wind is so light that I need to adjust the sail constantly. It's just non-stop work.”
About three months ago when Guo Chuan sailed across the equator into the southern hemisphere, the doldrums stuck his boat for almost a week. Now as he has finished two thirds of the global voyage, the light wind region around the equator once again sets a big obstacle for the 48-year-old sailor, who expects to return home in Qingdao by the end of March.
What also rises up as a big challenge is the malfunction of the autopilot. On the night of March 10th, Guo found that the autopilot stopped working. After careful check, he didn’t see any problem with the autopilot but identified the seven panels onboard as the troublemaker.
“The panels provide data to the autopilot so that it could work under accurate commands but I’m sure some of them sent out wrong information and have blocked the main circuit”, Guo explained.
Though he didn’t find out the exact panel(s) that malfunctions after a full night of search and examining, Guo solved the problem temporarily by linking one good panel to the autopilot to navigate the water.
“Auto-pilot is crucial to the journey. It is like an invisible helmsman that works tirelessly 24/7”, said Guo, “but once it went wrong the solo sailing will be placed in a critical situation, to say the least.”