BRIDGET
The weather and conditions in the Southern Ocean continue to be very
diverse and constantly changeable.  Yesterday, was positively balmy.  The
conditions changed so much that on the previous night shift we launched the
spinnaker.
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It was up for all of our day shift yesterday, when some of the
crew donned sandals and some even went for bare feet.  Tee shirts and bare
arms even made an appearance.  It went up and came down very successfully – for the first time on this leg a miracle!

The second time it went up was not quite so successful.  During our night
shift we awoke to the sail on the floor.  It had got a wrap, and had a few
minor tears.  I love the spinnaker on the floor!  It takes up all the floor
space there is between the bunks and in the galley, so you have to walk on
it.  The minus point is that it is very slippery, and there is a lot of it.

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If you walk on the top bit and the boat heels over, the likelihood is that
you will go from the top of where you are to the bottom of where it is like
a toboggan.  No brakes – and no soft landing!

Emily and Michael did sterling work through the night, and fixed it yet
again.  But it has now been put away because the weather changed again.
So, back to last nights night shift.  All was calm until half an hour
before shift change.  Fairly calm seas, not too much wind.  I came down to
wake the other shift, came back on deck and immediately felt the breeze on
my ears had become more gale like.  Within minutes the call had gone out to
put a reef in – the waves had risen and the boat was now bouncing and
keeling.

The call went out to put two reefs in.  Problem number one.  The winch
with reef two on it didn’t work to pull in the reef line.  That was my job.
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A couple of minutes was spent trying to get the winch engaged, but as the
weather had deteriorated considerably, it was decided to go to reef three
instead.  The boat was now very over powered, the waves were coming over
the sides, and it all got a little scary.  For me anyway!

Problem number two.  The line for reef two would not pull in at all.  It
seemed to be caught on something, but as it was dark and very difficult to
see, it was hard to tell what.  It all got a little chaotic, but reef three
was put in successfully – albeit with half the main sail hanging out of the
bottom of the boom.  A closer examination of the reef line showed that the
rope had got tangled up with the topping lift and a couple of other ropes,
and had one almighty knot in it (not a bowline, I might add!).

The wind and seas were too heavy to attempt to get it out there and then,
so we went off shift over an hour late with the problem still in situ.  We
woke up to much calmer winds, so the problem was sorted.  The boom was
lowered to the deck, and the knot was hit with a mallet.  That sorted it
out!  I have made that sound a lot simpler than it was – it was a very
tricky manoeuvre with only the minimum people on deck to sail the boat in
case the boom got out of control.  No chance with Wendo at the mallet!

Elliot Brown, our official time keepers, stuck one of their special limited
edition clipper watches to our mast.  Each of the skippers were issued with
one – their number on the watch was the same as their boat number, so
Wendo’s is 25.  Matt (Miss World!) was chosen as “The Face” of Eliot Brown
for the Clipper Race, and has been issued with number two.  All of the
participants in this years race could apply, and he was the winner.  He
does have all the poses and pouts to make a good photo, and wants his photo
taken at every opportunity, so a very good choice.  Not sure if any of them
have been made public yet?
watch
They are very nice watches, but the one on the mast has gone missing.  We have assumed that a rogue wave must have knocked it overboard.  Unless of course someone prized it off in the dead of night…

So the Southern Ocean is now showing us her large swells.  Not as large as
they could be, I hasten to add.  But large enough to throw the boat from
one side to the other constantly.  Which makes typing just a little
challenging.  I have no doubt it could get worse……….

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