Shepherd Moon - Blue Water Runner comes up trumps
At last, something interesting to write about; I knew we could rely on the Blue Water Runner. We had been making good progress westwards but out track had slipped a little too much to the south. With the wind coming from just north of east, we needed to gybe if we were to claw our way back north. To do this we needed to roll away the genoa, move the spinnaker pole from the starboard side to the port side, then furl the Blue Water Runner, switch the sheets and then fly that on the opposite side. Since we were going to all that effort, I suggested that perhaps we should first try and fly the Blue Water Runner properly since we would be heading more or less downwind.
It is worth noting at this point that everyone on board was in agreement with this decision, at least at the time, although Jacob and Vanessa have been studiously re-writing history ever since. All went well to start of with. We got the genoa away and the pole down. We even managed to furl away the Blue Water Runner. All that was then required was to drop the furled sail just enough so that we could tie a sheet (that is a nautical one not a double polycotton one, although that may be where we've been going wrong) to each clew (corner), rather than having a single sheet (that makes it sound even more like the polycotton variety) tying the two halves together. This should have been simple, but the furled sail, now a very long and heavy sausage, was swinging wildly around the foredeck, with Jacob clinging like an Orang-Utan to the bottom in a valiant but largely futile attempt to keep it under control.
After a number of failed attempts, the sheets were eventually tied and I went to re-hoist the sail. The Blue Water Runner has a number of character flaws, one of which is a complete lack of patience. Rather than waiting to be fully hoisted, it sensed freedom and started to unfurl. It quickly became clear that despite our best efforts, we had run the sheets incorrectly. They were twisted around the middle of the sail, preventing the bottom part from unfurling. And so there we were, bowling along at over 6 knots, with the top two-thirds of the Blue Water Runner unfurled, and the bottom third in a total fangle.
The easy solution would have been to drop the whole lot into the sea and then haul it back on board, an exercise we have performed innumerable times thanks to our mast's propensity for chomping through halyards. However there is a bad split in the halyard cover at deck level, and I didn't think it would survive a trip to the top of the mast. Therefore the only solution was to try and take the pressure of each sheet in turn so that the rope could be untied and re-run correctly. Then, and only then, would the sail be able to untangle itself and fly correctly.
This was the plan anyway, and it probably would have gone a bit more smoothly if I had explained the plan to the rest of the crew, rather than just assuming they were mind readers. It would also have been easier if the sheets in question had lain meekly on the deck, waiting to be re-routed. Instead they decided it was more fun to whip through the air in frenzied mayhem, threatening to decapitate anyone stupid enough to raise their head above guardrail height. However, by winching in each sheet in turn, it was just possible to reach the clew of the sail from the pulpit. I could then tie on a second sheet, which was in turn attached to the forward cleat. Then, by releasing the pressure on the original sheet, it was just about possible to undo the bowline (knot), re-run the line correctly and tie it back on. It probably took an hour and a half in total, but in the end the fangle was untangled and the Blue Water Runner is now whisking us westwards at over seven knots. I think we may just keep it up for the next four days and then cut the halyard and drop it into the sea when we reach Hiva Oa. Vanessa likes the last part of this plan a lot, especially if we could find some rocks to help weigh it down.