Friday, day 11 at sea.
"Spinnakers were made for man to put up, and
God to bring down..."
Qu: Laurie Smith (famous racing
It all started with the decision to launch
Barbara. All our sails have names and Barbara (also known as Big
Babs) is our big kite. She is the largest spinnaker in our wardrobe
and is a b*tch at the best of times. Used in the right conditions and
handled with respect, she will give us another 2 knots of boat
speed. However, Babs is also moody, temperamental and prone to savage
bursts of anger. Unfortunately, she was is such a frame of mind today
and the price we had to pay was high.
At 0900 hrs, whilst Mike was on watch, we
prepared Barbara for launch. Everything was set up with no problems.
We furled away Debra (aka Debs, our hardworking and loyal Genoa sail), raised
the snuffer on Babs and...disaster. In a moment of protest, Babs pinged
off the snap shackle that was holding her sheet which, under full load,
then fired straight into The Countess (our Main Sail and the most important
one on board, hence the name) ripping a 60 cm hole right through the belly
of the sail. Aaaaaargh.
Emergency actions had to be taken to save The
Countess from being shredded. The sheet and shackle were still
imbedded in the belly of the main sail and Bab's was attempting to impose
multiple stab wounds. If we did not act immediately, we would lose The
Countess and it would be game over. We lept into action and brought down
the spinnaker snuffer, we then dragged Babs down below through the
forward hatch into the sail locker. Drama over, we now had to set about
the task of repairing a main sail. We pulled down the Countess, laid her
on the deck, got out the sail repair kit and, with needles, thread,
lamanate repair tape, chopping boards, sail patches and various miscellany,
the entire crew turned into tailors for the rest of the morning. Meantime,
Deb's came into her own and kept us moving, alas a a much reduced pace for
without The Countess, Pea is a big boat to move through the water on headsail
Finally, several hours later, we finished our
repair. Not half bad actually. Repair completed, The Countess went
back up (now sporting a designer scar and new sail patches) and we
were underway again but we lost valuable pace through the morning.
We then had a second mishap in the day, again
involving Babs. Like suckers for punishment, we decided to re launch
her again in the afternoon. This time without incident
and whooped for joy as we felt the boat power up. It is a
beautiful sight to see a giant spinnaker pulling us along and Bab's
unleashed her full power. We grinned like little boys and continued
to congratulate ourselves on being master of the universe as only we blokes can
when we are playing with big toys. The music came on for a bit,
we started to let our hair down and even put Beryl (our faithful
autopilot) on for a while while we applied sunscreen and recovered from our
morning of drama. Minky when down below to make
And then the b*tch got us again....
There is a nautical term called "broaching".
The sailing books fail to convey the actual reality of what happens when a boat
broaches, but picture is like this: the wind gusts, the spinnaker becomes
rapidly overpowered and the entire boat heels right over onto her side
while rounding up towards the wind. All this happens in about 3
seconds. It is violoent, chaotic and often breaks things. Once again
we lept into action, while also clinging onto a boat that was now about to lay
on her side. We relased the sheets and tack line on Babs to try
to depower her. But it was all a bit too late....oops. Everything
down below on the starboard side of the yacht ended up on the port
side. Minky somehow survived cooking himself along with the eggs and
beans and we were all pretty shaken up.
With this little incident, we decided to give up on
Babs. Back down into the sail locker she went, out came Debs, and we
went back to sailing properly again. We, rather sheepishly, ate what
Minky had managed to salvage from lunch decided that we'd all had enough drama
from one day.
We are on a direct course for St Lucia now with
15-20 kts of wind from behind and we'll let The Countess and Debs take care of
the sailing for a while....
Other highlights from the day included a whale (The
first one we have not almost hit actually) and several more flying fish who
continue to commit suicide by jumping onto our deck.
Picture in advent calendar
= A lantern, we think but tough to tell as the advent calendar got trodden on in
Max Boat speed = 10kts briefly under
Number of Reefs = None.
Maximum Gust = 26kt
Number of broaches = 1
Number of Flying Fish = 4
Number of Whales = 1
Number of repaired sails = 1
Amount of Rain = None
Jags, Ben, Minky & Mike