Resolute of Thames - ON FLY-IN FISH AND SQUALLS
The fly-in fish, or more correctly Exocoetidae Beloniformes Actinopterygii, has been a regular visitor to the boat. I normally have to clear the decks of the dead each morning before Gilly-Mate assumes her first watch. In doing so I note that there are 2 types, Exocoetus has one pair of fins and a streamlined body to optimize for speed, while the other variant, Cypselurus has a flattened body and two pairs of fins, which maximizes its time in the air. They were actually studied closely in the early 1900s as a possible model upon which to develop an airplane. However, they have one major design fault in that they have no forward vision. Which is presumably why they all seem to impersonate second world war Japanese pilots. The difference is of course that they do us no harm - until last night that is, when one thumped me firmly across the head. He was quite a large example and judging by the impact (Energy equals mass multiplied by velocity squared) he must have been of the genus Excoetus - or should that be Exocetus? -. I was so shocked that I actually just returned him to the water (yes he was definitely a male!). We don't fish on Resolute on this voyage anyway, but we have enjoyed some of the large specimens for breakfast. They do not however make up for the lack of tomatoes on board. Obviously.
The fly-in fish was followed 10 minutes later by the first of a succession of squalls. These we weathered with a reef in the main and the genoa reduced to about the size of a number one jib (handkerchief for the uninitiated!) Harriot hydrovane safely saw us through them all. This morning at dawn we were greeted by an horizon with squalls banked up as far as my forward looking eyes could see. (Perhaps the fly-in fish has the last laugh as he can't see the squalls coming). We discussed taking down the main but agreed that with one reef and a pressing need to reduce the 550nm left to go to zero we would press on. At this point, dear reader, you may recall that my preferred downwind rig in anything other than light airs is 2 headsails. Anyway life went on I assumed the watch from Gilly-mate and was down on the SSB radio hosting our morning chat show when it got to the point where I gave our position and wind I calmly announced wind SSE Force 7 and looked up to watch the main go aback. Mistake. Leaving my radio audience bemused, I rushed upstairs and put the wind back behind us which forced the top baton in the main that had gone the wrong side of the shrouds out again and this ripped the main just below the baton - almost right across. We (Gilly-mate was awake and rightly grumpy at this point) gingerly dropped the sail and examined the damage and then put it in its sail bag (where A we cant see it and B if you believe in ferries it will mend itself). We are now, back to plan A - 2 headsails up and are going a tad slower but in the right direction. Rule ONE of passage making - don't let the proximity of the destination cloud your judgment!
To add insult to injury one of our rivals, yacht Kika is just passing us with his very fancy, colourful para-sailor sail up. We have chatted on the radio and they too are recovering from a rather calamitous Thursday morning. I have contacted my new friend Exocetus and he is going to arrange a mass attack by a whole flock (or is that shoal or perhaps fleet?) of his closest friends this afternoon. I am not expecting it to cause much damage to the sail if indeed they can see it - but imagine living with the smell of all those fish scales for the next 5 days!