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(Repeat) Never a dull moment in my watch

12/03/2012

Hi there, dear Nilaya-blogfans,

We probably just had the most thrilling, exciting, active 12hrs since the start of the race. It all started at the end of my last evening watch always at midnight we were speeding with the A3 spinnaker and 1reef in the main, Filip at the helm, PITCHDARK, you couldn`t see the difference between horizon and water, boat speeds at an average of 18-20kts, breeze getting stronger and stronger till 24-25kts, huge waves.

Let`s ask Bouwe to come on deck, let`s get the spinnaker down before something goes wrong, too much breeze, no visual reference, almost impossible to steer. Bouwe took the helm and managed to drive in these conditions, we have to hold on for 2 hours, until the moon comes up and gives us some light.

But, the breeze came in stronger and stronger and then we decided to get it down. Prepare the Jib! Hoist the Jib! And then Murphy in full action! Jens was busy at the winch to hoist the Jib, when he got an override in his halyard, with his finger squeezed in it! He shouted out loud in pain, pulled his finger back, continued the hoisting (even with -what later our Doc declared- a broken finger) No time to lose, the breeze increased to 27,9kts!!, still PITCHDARK, Johnny making a remarkable performance at the helm in these conditions, Bouwe being exhausted, nobody else dare taking the wheel. Reef out! Jib UP! Ok, drop the Kite! What the hell! During the tack-line transfer, it got off the winch and the spinnaker went flying in the black air, with no tack attached anymore! F@#$! All hence on deck! Pulling, swearing, sliding, adrenaline cooking, a heroic fight with 1000sqm of stiff cloth hanging in between the water, the jib and the shrouds, it finally got on board after 30minutes hard labor! Pack it, drag it aft with all the water it took, this sail must weigh about 300kg now it takes 8 men, using all their power, slipping and sliding over the deckhouse, in between the winches, to get the huge bag aft PITCHDARK wind speeds 25kts! Huge waves. We than woolled it and packed it properly, ready for the next set.

My watch was finished a long time ago, so finally I hit the bunk. Entering my room, I heard plenty of action again going on, with a reef being put in so, I thought, while I am still wearing the foul weather gear let`s see if I can help and returned on deck. Exactly, Bouwe made the call for the A3 again, I went to the bow, where Alexis was trying to get the spaghetti of lines sorted out and prepared for the hoist. Jens was also still there we are in the same watch actually, almost everybody was still on deck, except Johnny. Hooked on the spinnaker, call for the hoist came and off it went high up in the mast. Drop the Jib, this went reasonably well, viewing the circumstances no more railing on the bow to hold onto safely a little more visual contrast then 1 hour before, less breeze 17-19kts, the sailcloth made of extremely stiff and rough material, getting the skin off from your fingers. Done!...I walked back aft to get down, all of a sudden BANG!! The spinnaker went flying in the air again!

The head came loose from the halyard because the `dog-bone` lashing snapped! Here we go again, full sail in the water same story, only with less and less power in your arms and more and more swearing get the tack and foot in board hoist the Jib! it took us 1 hour to get it untwisted, woolled and packed in the bag. Ok! Set it again A3 forward (repeat) get all the sheets and the halyard on, HOIST! DROP the jib! All went well, finally I opened the hatch to step down and go to bed in the meantime, it was 02h00 in the morning .BANG !! I don`t believe it! the spinnaker blew up,  with the top 1/3 part ripped apart from the luff till the leech! Spinnaker down, spinnaker down!! Not again! @#$% Hoist the Jib!

Bag it, drag it aft and we will sort it out in the morning. North Sails chief Frans immediately reported to Bouwe that the sail is repairable, but not now, it was too wet, salty and everybody just exhausted. 03h00: My new watch started at 04h00, thus I took a shower, got dry clothes on and got back on deck, halfway my watch, too tired I got to my bunk and slept like a baby until 09h15.

There, on deck, Peter, Alexis, Frans and Jamie, had themselves a shelter fabricated rain coming down in buckets under which they were able to dry the broken A3 (therefore using the hot-air from the machine room and the kitchen, smart guys!!) after having it rinsed with fresh water. They started at 08h00 in the morning and while I am writing this they are finished with taping the 2 ripped parts together, both sides, followed by a whipping to complete the repair 8hrs with 4 people! Huge sial-surfaces. I have my camera ready for when it will be set for the first time. Peter is confident it is as good as new, we`ll see, one drop more or less, who cares at the end!

Nevertheless, the most important is that we didn`t lose on our closest competitor Sojana, on the contrary, we gained 8Nm on them last night those boys must have had a rough night too wishing them a safe continuation of the Race!

I know Filip doesn`t like me to put the EDA(estimated date of arrival), but just for your info, we might I repeat, we might arrive after tomorrow, which would mean, a 9 days crossing)

Quote of the day!
(Arjen): I never ever had so heavy conditions on a crossing
(Johnny): If you forget the boat interior, what we have done this week, as manouvring, handling, comes close to what activity there is on board from a Volvo 60!

We end up with always the same positive note:
Jodie cooked delicious Squid, Pizza, Salad, rest of the Sunday Roast,
Thanks Jode,

Thx Peter, Jamie, Alexis and Frans!

CU,
Jan

PS: talking about fauna, Rogier and Jamie spotted a whale this morning, I was not on deck...last night, black night, I also had a unpleasant encounter with a `fly-fish`: It smells bad indeed!

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