Shepherd Moon - Crying wolf
As dawn breaks tomorrow morning we should be greeted by the steep, verdant slopes of Hiva Oa. After 19 days at sea, and nearly 3,100 nautical miles, it will be strange to see something green. The last couple of days have been largely uneventful, or at least they would have been if the Blue Water Runner had remained safely stowed in its locker down below. As it was, it was very nearly the catalyst for a divorce.
In fairness to the Blue Water Runner, it behaved impeccably until it was told to stop playing and come inside. While other boats struggled to cope with the repeated wind shifts, having to choose between heading off course or gybing, which with poled out sails is not an easy task, the Blue Water Runner took it all in its stride. There are no poles to fiddle with, just the two sheets, and with a bit of tweaking, it can deal with a wide range of wind angles. In fact it was the perfect sail to fly all the way to Hiva Oa. Which begs the question, why is it stuffed in its sail bag and lashed to the deck? The problem was the weather forecast.
A few of the boats had subscribed to a bespoke weather service, which provided daily guidance on what to expect and the optimal course to steer. For the past couple of days the forecaster had been warning of significant squall activity, with the potential for 40 knot plus winds (plus thunder bolts and lightning, very, very frightening). That is the kind of wind strength that could shred sails and so it was definitely a warning to be headed. The question was, do you take down the Blue Water Runner just in case, or do you watch the radar like a hawk and take it down as soon as a squall comes anywhere near? I will leave you to decide which camp I was in and which camp Vanessa was in. Jacob very sensibly decided it was the wrong weather for any kind of camping and so stayed well out of it.
Needless to say, "we" decided to drop the Blue Water Runner, or at least practice furling it, just in case. It furled OK but then the wind caught the top and it started to unfurl again. There was no choice but to drop it. The problem was the outer sheath of the halyard (the rope holding it up) had totally split in two, leaving just the core holding the sail. This was fine whilst the sail was up and the halyard wrapped around a winch, but as soon as the rope was released, it was like trying to control a snake, an angry snake at that, in an open-ended cloth tube. The core slipped out of the sheath, the furled sail plummeted, and despite Jacob's valiant efforts, it ended up in the sea, again. Thankfully tempers have now tempered and all is forgiven, although Vanessa did comment this evening that the Blue Water Runner's sail bag looked remarkably like a body bag lashed to the deck, "all ready for a burial at sea" she added cheerfully. So perhaps the forgiveness is not quite universal. Oh yes, as for those squalls, they never tuned up!