The hot sun of the tropics has been roasting our skin into a slightly alarming shade of brown since we arrived in Senegal. Meanwhile the same sun has been taking its toll on our equipment. In the last passage we had a rather heavy casualty rate! Not only did we have a torn mizzen sail, but out tiller arm (the bit you steer with) broke, the pole that we use to hold out our genoa sail snapped, our mainsail broke loose, one of the cupboards caved in after I collapsed rather too enthusiastically after a long watch, and our fridge has turned into a heady soup of rotten meat juices thanks to some stray steaks from Morocco. On top of that, my computer took one too many falls and the wires connecting the screen to the computer were severed, rendering the computer useless.
Thus our past few days have been spent in repair mode. Leonie has stitched and repaired the mizzen sail while I have tinkered with various bits of equipment and with the help of a borrowed soldering iron convinced them to work. However, while our own ingenuity is enough to solve most problems, in some instances you have to turn to the locals for help.
In this instance we had a fantastic experience with Sow – a local carver camped in the empty shell of a building just down the road from where we are moored. We came to Sow bearing the battered remnants of our broken tiller arm and asked him (in broken French) if he could knock together a replacement. Two days later we were holding a beautifully carved piece of African hardwood embellished with crocodiles, turtles and hippopotamus. Our tiller now stands in pride of place as the most fancy part of our aging yacht and we couldn’t be happier.