We are now out of stealth mode – Unicef, Mission Impossible and a couple of
others all went into stealth mode at the same time, so for 24 hours none of
us knew where the others were. And we are still ahead of Unicef – result!!
We have had notification that the race official is going to finish at
midnight UTC tonight – 10pm our local time. There is going to be a
memorial service for Andy Ashman and the prizegiving on 2nd October, so
they want all boats to be there. At this point, there are still seven
boats not finished. Teletubbies and a couple of others have gone virtually
nowhere in the last 24 hours as they are in a wind hole. It could take
weeks to get in!!
We changed the sails a couple of nights ago, and put the spinnaker up
again. This sail gives more speed under certain conditions, but it is more
tricky to sail. Especially at night, although with the full moon we have
had the last few nights it does make it better to see. The sea started to
swell more and more, and those coming off the helm were saying how
difficult it was to hold the boat steady.
It was almost the end of the shift when I went on the helm. The wind was
gusting up to 30 knots, and the waves were pushing the boat first this way
then the other. After twenty or so minutes a gust of wind blew the
spinnaker and a wave hit from the other side. Or at least I think that is
what happened – it was all a bit of a blur. The spinnaker managed to wrap
itself around the forestay and the yankee halyard, which was still attached
to the yankee sail tied down on the deck. Chaos ensued. I felt awful. I
could have crawled into my bed and cried and cried. It was difficult to
get down, the boat was unstable to steer, and people were having to get
preventers in and do things in a stressful situation. Why me?
All hands were called on deck to rescue the situation. Luckily, the
spinnaker was unravelled and got to the deck without any damage. It was
quickly taken down below decks, wooled, and then launched again. No matter
how many people told me that “shit happens” and it could have happened to
anyone it didn’t make me feel any better. This was a really low point, but
there is just nowhere on a boat this size to go and lick your wounds.
Every time I thought about it I wanted to cry. I didn’t. I managed to
contain my emotions to my bunk and the toilet.
We were woken for the next shift by the same thing having happened. the
spinnaker was wrapped around the forestay again. Whereas this was not
something I would have wanted to happen, at least I was not on my own at
having lost control. It didn’t really make me feel any better, because I
felt that my inability to control the boat, put other people in danger, and I
can’t get rid of that feeling. But I do know that someone else probably
feels that way too. I don’t know who was on the helm, but I feel for them.
And today, it happened again. The sea was swelling to about five metre
waves, and the wind got up. The helm was difficult to control (I had since
not been on the helm, I feel I have lost a little confidence and feel that
it would be best to regain that in calmer waters). The spinnaker went from
one side of the boat to the other, and all of a sudden the halyard snapped
and it was in the water. I was trimming at the time, so had hold of the
sheets that controlled the clew. The tack was still attached, so it was
streaming down the side of the boat. We were still going quite fast, which
probably helped to keep it afloat and not sink. Everyone on deck was
hanging over the guardrail trying to grab hold of it and pull it in. The
length of the sail was twenty or so feet longer than the boat, so it took a
lot of effort and a lot of people to get it back on board. But they did,
and miraculously there was no damage.
Three spinnaker disasters in a 24 hour period. I am beginning to hate that
The water maker on board is still working hard to make drinkable water – it
apparently takes 240 litres of sea water to make 24 litres of fresh water.
When we get close to Rio – which we are now, yippee! – we cannot use the
water maker as the water in the sea is not good enough to start with.
Even so, all through the trip you can still see things floating in the water, I
have just accepted this now, and just drink it. No Evian on here. I have
been sweating so much, my water intake has gone up to compensate. That is
the only water available, so floaty bits or not that is the only choice!
Some of the crew that are only doing one leg are getting ready to leave the
ship. Some of the comments that have been bandied about are hilarious.
One said, It shouldn’t be straplined “Are you ready for the race of your
life” it should be “Are you ready to sleep in someone else’s filth”.
Goodness knows what we all smell and look like. I got a “full frontal”
wave last night without my foulies on and got soaked just before I was due
to come off shift.
I did hear “your hair looks particularly good tonight”
when I came downstairs. I don’t think it has looked particularly good
since 30th August.
One of the main topics of conversation at this point in time is scabby
bottoms. Most people have it, in some form or another. I am so lucky!!
I offered my tiger balm to help one person who was particularly suffering,
but I did draw the line at helping to administer it! It did the trick
apparently, so I think I will get some more jars just in case I need it in
This time tomorrow we should be in Rio – a shower, a proper bed, air
conditioning and peace and serenity. I won’t want to get back on the boat
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