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Saoirse - Saoirse Diaries - 9 - When the Ship hits the Can

You may recall I said, ‘now we are sucking diesel’ when I spoke about our adrenaline junky speed trip with the Butterfly our Blue Water Runner? Perhaps on reflection not the best choice of words. As it turns out we were snorting diesel, real diesel for the better part of 24 hours thanks to a rather unfortunate incident when monster waves met a half a dozen innocent enough jerry cans, (or so we thought).

The jerry cans were stowed on the bow, 6 in all, a total of 120 litres of extra fuel. They looked cosy, well secured and happy enough to be there. That was until the monster waves of Sunday night/Monday morning started to hammer incessantly at them just willing them to break free, until finally, break free they did, in the middle of the night.

We were first alerted to what had happened by the sound of these 6 heavy cans violently slamming from one side of the deck to the other as each wave hit making sleeping in the fore cabin an impossibility. Sleeping in the cockpit did not prove much better when we started to get the whiff of diesel and saw yellow liquid flowing down along the deck. Those of the crew with a delicate constitution who had just about managed to keep the projectile vomiting at bay with the delicious dry crackers I had lovingly served up, could now no longer stop the flow. The heavy stench of diesel hanging in the air finally broke them and it all came up.

We contemplated going out on deck to try to re-stow them and save some of the fuel but it was pitch black, in the middle of the night, blowing 28 knots, we were surfing down 6 meter waves and the deck was covered in slippery fuel. Maybe not then eh?

So we suffered the sound of the banging and clashing and the stench of the fuel for a further 24 hours before the wind and wave conditions calmed down enough to let us go out onto the deck to assess the damage. The air vents on all, not so innocent jerry cans, had opened and sure enough we had lost all 120 litres over board.

I have struggled over what the moral of this story should be. Don’t stow your jerry cans on deck? If you have no where else to stow them as in our case that isn’t particularly helpful. Stow your jerry cans more securely on deck? Doesn’t have much of a ring to it does it? Don’t mix monster waves and jerry cans? Not really practical when you are sailing across an ocean eh? So I have settled on:

Never trust a jerry can, they may look innocent but they are shifty little bastards and right when you are not looking BAM they are leaking all over your deck! Remain vigilant at all times.

That’s the Saoirse crew out until the next time.

Stay tuned

By Aisling Fenix


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