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Atlantic crossing 2016

11/29/2016

As we parallel the Moroccan coastline 50nm offshore, we motor with a moonless sky overhead filled with stars. When navigating in this part of the world there is always one common concern between sailors: fishing buoys. Some are lit, some are not, often there is no way to determine where a chain of them begins or ends and they could run for 2, 3 miles or more. Tom Ashmore and Pitiou spotted the faint strobes at 5am, spread as far as the eye could see. In darkness we managed to carefully skirt the stream of buoys and find a way through. The next time we would not be so lucky.

Just before sunrise and when it was already too late we spotted a single buoy run down the port side, it had a tiny light, which was faint and submerged. Before we could say another word it was already too late and suddenly it jolted into action and started chasing us at exactly 10.5 knots. Yep, we’d caught it… Instantly the engine RPM was pulled to neutral – this is also our method to raise the alarm to resting crew – and then furled the staysail.  Shortly after 6 more sleepy bodies arrived ready to help – well, almost.

Not knowing where the fishing line was caught, the main engine was left in neutral so as not to further distress the tangled line. We first pulled the buoy close and cut the line free, but we still had to deal with the line running under the boat.

As the sun began to break the horizon Pitiou volunteered to jump in and make the first inspection. With a knife in one hand a torch in the other; it took one look for him to determine he needed scuba gear and a wingman to help him.

Ryan reluctantly donned his scuba gear and after carefully selecting exactly the correct amount of weights and trying multiple dive masks he realised he could stall no further and entered with a splash. Only moments ago tucked up in bed.

Just minutes had passed when we saw both boys surface with bundles of tangled rope and laughs of relief. Stopping the prop so quickly prevented the knot winding tight around the shaft and this time we had escaped relatively unscathed.

As the sun continued to rise, the lads had had their morning swim, we continued south with a cup of tea - preparing to set full main and staysail to make the most of the light winds forecast.

TH

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