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Nix -

Why do things always happen at night!
It all started with some great spinnaker sailing in 18-20 knots of wind and a good angle towards St Lucia.  James enjoyed the 'best sailing of his life so far' as winds picked up and, on watch with Nico, clocked nearly 14 kts in the pitch dark.  Down below the noise was intense as the water roared by and every sinew of the boat sceached and groaned.  Could it continue?  Chris, in anticipation of a call for hands on deck, tried unsuccessfully to sleep in his lifejacket.  But first, George was rudely awakened as a wave broke over the bow and water poured through the hatch.  Only partially closing it, and after changing his wet bedclothes, he got a second dousing.  Lesson in there somewhere.
But then all hell broke loose.  As winds rose towards 30 knots and with a swinging wind angle we deliberated over whether to drop the spinnaker.  The decision was made for us as it disintegrated in a gust of wind.  The remains had to be cut away, knives on a lively foredeck not being a pleasant sight!  Unfortunately a total loss of the sail!  And then the genoa refused to unfurl, and being pitch dark and everyone exhausted most of the crew went to bed.  The boat under main only continued to clock 8 plus knots.
Dawn came eventually, though now well into the first day watch (8-12am).  The problem with the genoa was easily sorted, funny how you can't always see the obvious when tired, and two headsails were set.  But then some further damage was spotted as four batten sockets on the main had popped and broken, the result no doubt of a couple of involuntary gybes with preventer the previous night. That must have been the rifle shot we heard! Much effort expended pulling the main down, whilst maintaining the downwind course, and then Nico performed miracles to repair the damaged runners.  Four tool boxes, a rummage for spares, use of electric drill and grinder (all on a heaving deck, and much innovation to boot, and the mainsail was mended.  Hauling up, still going downwind, feeding in the runners as the main went up, was no easy task, and hats off to David for his foredeck balancing act, helping Nico throughout the exercise.
Back with three sails we plough on towards our goal, that first Pina Colada!
'looking forward to tonight's adventures' -crew of Nix.

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