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Brizo - WCC Log Day 16 – Monday 5th Dec: What a Difference a Day Makes (Stuart)

Frustrating night of heavy rain squalls, sudden high winds on the front that would veer around us from East to East South East to South sometimes so a full 90 degrees. For the night watches it means taking in sail and resetting sail plans, sometimes foredeck work. Pat and I do single watches at night and Pam and Craig together for a 1 hour longer watch – it’s odd but it works. Each of us knows our limitations so on occasions we may need additional assistance – if it can wait until the handover to do a more complex sail change then it waits so there are extra pairs of hands but in the case of squalls it has to be done immediately usually so it may mean ‘waking the off watch’.

Working the foredeck alone at night can be a little unnerving if you stop and think about it (so you don’t dwell on it), the Atlantic is over 4km deep, so I wonder how long my reading glasses took to reach the bottom then as I looked up to check the mainsail was not chafing on the spreaders and they dropped off my head overboard. The yacht is typically travelling at 8 to 9 knots over a choppy sea.  We often have over 160sqm of sail up downwind and it generates a lot of power, the powered winches deal with this so its not muscle that’s required but a choreograph of tasks that must be done in a correct sequence. Often crew cannot hear from one end of the boat to the other, especially in winds and squalls so a simple set of hand signals is now used to ‘Winch in’, ‘Let-out’, ‘stop’. Power winches are great but its moving machinery with the real potential to damage rig and people. A somewhat painful reminder of this occurred yesterday when I was on the foredeck and we were poling out the 80sqm Genoa foresail – during the sequence I was distracted by something else going on on another sail and I did not ease out a downhaul sheet in-sequence. It ripped (well fired) a cleat off the mast glancing me on its way to the sea bed some 20 meters away and whiplashed the sheet (rope) I was standing astride (only on the back of my leg – it could have been so much worse), luckily I got away with bruising sufficient to remind me not to get distracted again! So safety is key, medical and rescue support is likely to be many hours away at best, on watch overnight, life jackets, MOB (Man Over Board) indicators and Personal EPIRBS are carried.

Pat does the daybreak shift and today Monday the winds ran out early in the morning and we hit the wind hole I have been speaking about, earlier than planned. As the sun rises everything changes – today its sunny – believe it or not we have not seen that many sunny days since arriving in Las Palmas. Penalties or not the engine is fired up and we set a track direct for a waypoint off the North end of St Lucia. Crew catch up on lost overnight sleep, shower and read – its really been a delightful day. Tonight, we will I think be under motor as we have had no wind all day, this is likely to continue tomorrow so we are looking at getting into St Lucia late Afternoon GMT (UTC), Local time is minus 4 hours (UTC) but from experience of the Caribbean time does not quite have the same relevance and may depend a bit on what they have been ‘smokin dat day’.


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