can we help
+44(0)1983 296060
+1 757-788-8872
tell me moreJoin a rally


Falcon - Crossing Day 11

Distance run last 24 hours 178 nautical miles; miles until Grenada 388; new Falcon speed record 14.5 kts.; shooting stars wished upon, 6; flying fish saved, 1; Rudders lost, 1… best get the popcorn out and settle back… there’s some stories to tell today!

We start on a lighter note. Today was ‘half-way of the second half’ day’ In plain English, this means we have sailed passed the “500 miles to go” point! On a boat looking for any excuse to party, any Monday blues were washed away with Bev again treating us to pizza followed by boat-made lemon sponge cake - delicious! If only Captain Temperance hadn’t rejected the request from thirsty Helm Monkey to break out the rum…

Keeping the rig intact over long distance whilst ocean sailing is very much like playing a ‘spot the difference’ picture quiz; the game is to stare at the rig and find the 5 differences from an hour before! Today, the key variance was a 100% reduction in spinnaker downhaul guy as it had detached itself from the pole and was snaking along the length of the hull, waiting for us to ensnare it in the prop when we next started the engine! This was another case for the ‘clip on boys’ to make their way to the bow to sort out the mess of coloured spaghetti at the front of the boat… does anyone spot a theme to these blogs emerging here?

Lines were an also issue later in the night as we lost a second over the side to be later recovered before causing mischief. These snakes have a mind of their own when no one’s watching.

It was just before sundown that we made our choice of sail plan for the night; it is a calculated decision between having a manageable rig in case of squalls hitting us, and carrying enough canvas to speed us to our Caribbean goal. This evening we could see row upon row of small cumulus clouds behind us. Funnily enough, although you wouldn’t think it to look at them, most of the clouds are rather benign and pose no real threat; the difficulty however is in spotting the odd one or two that have some real potency. Encountering the latter has the potential to seriously ruin one’s night!

On this fateful evening, we decided to throw caution to the wind, quite literally, and continue flying the Bluewater Runner (our BFOS remember!). To mitigate the risk of squalls however, we would sail with two in the cockpit all night and conduct the Falcon ‘Pants Protocol’. This is where if the primary watch keeper is overly concerned about approaching weather, he wakes the other crew for a second opinion; if either pair of pants requires laundering after observing the incoming cloudage, it is time to take in sail!

With winds building to a steady 22 knots, some proper squalls passing nearby and higher gusts under the clouds, the protocol was enacted at 0400 hrs; after a rollercoaster of a night ride, at one time hitting 14.5 knots - that’s a lot for a sail boat!

Of course getting the BFOS down in this amount of wind is a little easier said then done! It eventually took Bev in the cockpit, directing and working the lines, whilst the two expendables once again went forward to grapple the writhing anaconda of fiercely flapping cloth into its bag! All safely back in the cockpit, one might think that our night’s adventure ends there… oh no, fate still had an ace to play on us! Still in the depths of moonless darkness, we hear a loud bang; searches under head torches reveal no apparent damage, and we attribute the noise to a violent slap by the seas that have now grown to 2.5 metres. An hour or so later, as the light of dawn begins to break, a lonesome Helm Monkey spots something ‘not quite right’ with Vinnie the wind vane. Vinnie is missing his rudder (well 3/4 of it - had sheared off), a somewhat vital element of this mechanical self steering system, which is, as I write, making its way 4 kilometres downward to its final watery grave; rest in peace Vinnie!

There is little time left to tell of the suicidal flying fish rescued from the deck and returned to its ocean abode. Nor is there space to elaborate on the six shooting stars spotted by Helm Monkey; though he now thinks he shouldn’t have squandered one of the associated wishes on ‘goodwill to all mankind’ and instead used it on keeping Falcon fully in one piece!

That’s it for today - hopefully tomorrow’s log will be a much shorter read! We’re all off to bed now..!!!

Previous | Next