Sunday 4th December 2016
Our head sails and kite have faired well, at least compared to the other Challengers who seem to have lost at least one sail each to the demands of an ocean crossing. However, in the fairly light winds our main sail has taking a bit of a flogging and has required some ‘on the hoof’ repairs. Yesterday a large split half way up the main was identified by Charlie of B Watch, but it was the way in which it was identified that has, up until now, been kept under wraps. The report to Captain Ricky was that the tear was spotted during one of our regular deck walk inspections. The reality was that Charlie was having a snooze in the cockpit when he was woken up by sun light streaming through the main.
Ricky was hoisted halfway up the mast using the spinnaker halyard and managed to repair the rip with sail patches. From the perspective of the deck it looked like a dangerous operation as he was only tied on at one point - from the top of the mast, whilst the boat pitched around in the wind and swell, the effects of which must have been magnified 60’ up. 24 hours later the repair is holding well but one of the brackets tying the main to the mast had broken requiring further repairs whilst on the wind. It seems to be holding, fingers crossed.
Following on from the fish-a-day bounty the crew have been enjoying and come to expect, we have had a lean couple of days and with it the doubters have returned. As we are now also out of fresh meat and we are holding a raffle for the last few remaining pieces of fruit, talk has strayed towards how we can avoid the inevitable scurvy. Ricky is trying hard to make the menus sound more appetising, today’s offering is ‘hand opened tin of sweet and sour’. When the tins run out, we are expecting weevil infused Madagascan ship’s biscuit.
I have been on Nic’s watch since the start and have learnt a lot about sailing, most of it from C.S Forrester’s Hornblower, which I have enjoyed reading. What I have learnt from Nic is not to accept a cup of tea from him. Witnesses in the galley were horrified as he murdered 3 cups of tea in broad daylight by putting the milk in first. He then only used 2 tea bags for 3 cups; and even then the bags barely got wet. Most outrageous of all was how he had the cheek to call them tea.
Tony, B Watch
One hour into a new day! The stars are shining and we are moving at around 7 knots over the ground.
Today has been busy with lots of sail changes and decisions to make regarding sail plan, course and the overall end game. We were keen to get our spinnaker launched at dawn, but increased winds and a slightly rolling sea meant that our faithful poled out yankee 1 was the optimum choice. Knowing that Challenger 2 has leapt in front of us has really had us scratching our heads today to work out if there’s a way to gain some mileage back. Eventually we decided to hoist our big blue and white spinnaker, the spinny gave us some much needed speed until we saw huge dark clouds ahead and a very nasty looking squall. On missing this narrowly, the order to spike was dropped. Unfortunately my relaxation was short lived as it was noticed that a baton car rod had parted from mast and mainsail.
Harness on, I clambered the pole and spiked. The crew joined in to drop spinnaker (a very smooth and well-practiced manoeuvre now) before raising the staysail and Yankee. Meanwhile I ventured up the mast, all the time bashing around as another squall threatened. After some time trying to fix the awkward problem, just as success was in sight, the sail flapped and an internal part snapped L.
Back on deck we put 2 reefs in the sail and Ricky, I and Andrew supported by Nic and Peter wrestled the problem for over two hours. All the while our hard earnt speed earlier in the day was being squandered.
Back on course, a change on the compass and a sail change to the Genoa to squeeze out every bit of wind during the night.
It feels like it has been a very involved race so far and that we have been trying our hardest to make the boat go as fast as the winds allow. Hours of sleep are few and far between at the moment. Fingers crossed tomorrow gives us good winds and no more problems.
Kirstie – sleep walking mate Ch 3
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