We have now turned left and started our descent into Albany.  The seat belt
signs have come on, and the chairs have to be returned to the upright
position.  Ha. If only there are chairs!
We are three to four days away – but there is an eighty mile wide high in front of us with very light winds. So it may be Christmas when we get there.  I hope not!  Of the “B” Division pack of boats, it will be the one that manages the best through this that arrives first.  Hope it is us.

One of the regular slots that I have on the boat is at the helm.  I haven’t
manage to wrap another spinnaker, which has increased my confidence
somewhat.  Until the next time……  When the weather is pleasant, the
winds steady and the seas calm it is almost a pleasure.  When any of
those things alter to the worse, it can get a little hairy.
For the backgound.  There are two big steering wheels at the back of the
boat – one either side.  They have a back and front netting cage area,
which at first I thought was a nice safe place. Didn’t think about how I
was to get there and back.  When the boat is pitching and heaving, I have
to get from the hatch, or on the rail, along the boat.  There are four
winches that I can hang on to periodically, but there are gaps in between.
If people are sitting there, I use their arms, legs or anything else that I
grab on the way past.  Then comes the traveller.  This is a steel structure
that holds the main sail sheet, which moves up and down it according to
where the wind is.  This can be tackled in two different ways.  Either by
crawling underneath – my preferred option when the boat is not flat – or by
climbing over the top.  Either way, the tether has to be moved from one
anchor point to another.  Also not easy in the dark, wet, or when the boat
throws you from one place to another involuntarily.  Then when you get
there, you have to squeeze in quickly when the other person comes out.
Quickly is something I struggle with.
Today, the sun has been shining, the sea is calm and the wind less than
twenty knots.  When I say wind, the wind speed is not the wind speed but
the apparent wind speed.  Apparently.  Depending on which direction the
wind is coming from, and how fast the boat is going, depends on how fast
the apparent wind is.  Complicated?  Not when you have instruments to work
it all out.  But it is a bit of a tongue twister.

So, depending on what sails you have up and what the wind speed is, you
have to steer to either a compass course or the apparent wind angle.  There
is that word again.  Because the wind angle is not the wind angle when the
boat is moving, it deviates and becomes the apparent wind angle.  Are you
all following?
But there are instruments that work this out as well.  Just have to make sure that the human element gets it right.  Which is where I get worried.  At the helm, you are in charge of a one million pound yacht and the safety of twenty people.

When the seas are heavy and or the wind is high, this is not such a
pleasurable task.  My dead hands have the wheel to thank for their state
as well as the spinnaker ropes.  The boat has to go in as straight a course
as possible.  But the wind pushes you one way and the waves maybe another.
the physical strength needed to keep the boat straight in these conditions
is sometimes beyond me.  I come off the helm, and my neck and shoulders are screaming.  To get the wheel round, I have to hook my thumb into the wheel and pull with all my might.  Something you shouldn’t do.  If the wheel gets ripped out of your hands, your thumb is likely to go with it.  I try not to helm in these conditions – there are far more suitable people than me that can cope with this.

When the boat is heeling, there is a piece of wood that has been made to
fit into the cage on an angle, so one of your feet can lean against it so
it makes you straighter.  But on a heavy lean it isn’t anywhere near
straight.  So not only do you have to use all your strength to keep the
boat on course, you have to do it on the wonk.
southern ocean storm
And if it is raining, the raindrops pierce your eyes like needles.  And if you haven’t quite done your foulies seal up correctly at the neck, you can feel it running down your clothes.  And then a wave will come and smash you in the face. sounds like fun, hey!

The Port Watch has been a bit brain dead for the last few days.  Olly
started a competition to make up people’s names from parts on the boat.
This has now become his crew blog entry, with a short profile for each
person.  Well worth looking on the Danang Crew Blog for that one, but you
may have to google the names to see what parts they are.

The Poetry Competition is coming to the entry deadline – and there are some
that may be able to put into Crew Blogs.  My entry will appear next time.
Needless to say those limericks that mention Nantucket and South Carolina
will not be making an appearance!
On last nights night shift, the moon was shining brightly.  Within a few
feet of the boat a huge whale surfaced, blew out water and dived again.  I
think he was as shocked to see us as we were to see him.  Didn’t stop us
looking at empty water for the next two hours!

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Bridget only has basic email facilities on the boat. Editing and the choice of images on this blog is entirely by Paul keevil!
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