Dalton hits whale

More carnage for Hexagon

Saturday December 7th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Following her arrival in Cape Town with the top of the rig nearly falling off - the top spreader roots had collapsed the compression members inside the spars causing the mast to split almost three quarters of the way round the section - Graham Dalton's Hexagon experienced more carnage yesterday when she hit a whale while travelling at 13 knots in Cape Town's inner harbour.

The boat's starboard rudder collided with the starboard rudder and though the cable connecting the steering wheels to the rudders was damaged in the accident Hexagon was able to sail safely to the shore using the emergency tiller, and the autopilot - these both bypass the wheels and connect directly to the quadrant controlling the rudders.

The starboard rudder has now been removed in order to carry out repairs. Though this job is more easily performed with the boat out of the water ashore, skipper Graham Dalton and his team felt that it would be better to keep Hexagon in the water for the removal of the rudder. "To put Hexagon ashore would mean taking off the sails and removing the mast, this would waste valuable time in our preparations for leg three," said Dalton.

Instead the canting keel was swung to the port side, leaning the boat over slightly, so lifting the starboard rudder a little higher in the water. A team of skilled divers waited beneath as the rudder was dropped from Hexagon, and this operation will be reversed when the rudder is repaired.

Dalton is confident this setback will not affect his readiness to start leg three and as soon as the rudder is repaired he will be back on the water testing his systems and equipment for the Southern Ocean. Dalton commented: "Hitting the whale was unavoidable; we had no idea it was there. It was a sad occurrence for both Hexagon and the whale."

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