The fishing boats that we encountered on the way to Vietnam and China were
nothing compared with the fishing nets we are having to contend with now.
We seemed to quite easily make our way through the boats, but nets are
something different. There are miles and miles of them. And all you have
to go on is a little flag sticking up out of the water – albeit with a
flashing light on that you can see in the dark. In the light, it is a lot
more difficult to see. But there isn’t just one light – or one light
either end. Some nets have a red on one end and a white on the other.
That would be easy to make your way through. No – not all of them. Some
have three lights – red in the middle and white either end. Some have a
green one somewhere. It really is a nightmare.
We have someone at the bow keeping a lookout at all times. When we find
one light, the first thing we try to do is find a pair. Then if there is
another one in the vicinity we have to make a decision which way to go.
Not easy! A couple of nights ago we got caught up in a net. We were only
going at about three miles an hour, but it still took us over an hour to
get out of it. And we aren’t sure that there isn’t still some net caught
on the underneath of the boat.
We thought that we were picking our way carefully through, but it was not to be.
Visit Seattle was less than 100 yards away from us, and sailed right on
past. We had to get knives out and boat hooks and cut away loads from all
around the boat. Craig and Marc, once again, did a fabulous job with
Wendo. I don’t think I would have known where to start. She did say that
this was the first time she had ever got caught up in a net – shame it was
on this race! Not sure what the fisherman would have thought when he came
back to get his catch – I feel sure the net won’t be usable again. Wendo
gave it a positive spin though – being a vegetarian she said that we had
saved a good few fishes lives that night.
We did hear that we weren’t the only boat to get caught – GB actually had
to send people out in their dinghy to get the nets off, and one in a wet
suit to go under. Theirs took considerably longer to sort out than ours.
We heard that they had sent a camera over the side and under the water to
see the damage – we did try, but the camera ran out of battery and then
the wind picked up. We got a short shot, and it looked OK. Doesn’t feel
as if we are dragging anything!
We have been picking our way through fields of fishing nets for nearly two
days. When you think you have seen the last, another set of flags pop up.
When the water gets a little choppy they are very difficult to see – day
or night. Let’s hope we don’t get caught again.
The new people on this leg seem to have settled in very well. I think the
lovely sailing conditions at the start of the race may have something to
do with it. We usually get hit by huge winds and waves just after the
start, which debilitates a lot of people, but this time it has been a very
gentle introduction. I somehow don’t think it is going to last!
I did something new today that I haven’t done before. Nothing dramatic to
most – but a bit scary for me. When we take down a spinnaker and replace
it with a yankee, we put the yankee up first, so one of the winches needs
to have two lots of sheets on. Impossible. So we have to put a rolly,
rolly, hitchy, hitchy knot on the yankee sheet. Not sure that is the
correct name for it, but that is what we call it on here. Once the
spinnaker is down, the yankee sheet can go on the winch that the spinnaker
sheet was on, and all is well. But the rolly, rolly, hitchy, hitchy needs
to be undone from the yankee sheet once it is on the winch before it can
be ground on.
This time, everyone was busy but me. The actual undoing of the knot is
not an issue, but it is the location of the knot that is the problem. It
is right on the side of the boat on the low side. So, whilst travelling
at ten knots, with the sea splashing my feet, I had to stand and undo this
Something that eveyone else does every day of the week. I can tell
you, my heart was in my mouth. And no-one noticed that it was me that did
it. I completed the task, and ground on the sheet. No drama. No
comment. Except I was very pleased with myself!
We are still poodling along, not making a huge amount of headway having
gone into day four. The wind has been less than favourable – we have
spent hours with the windseeker up and doing about one mile an hour. This
morning we did three miles in eight hours.
Not going to get me to Seattle until Christmas if that keeps up – although I am sure it won’t!
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“Every small donation will make my eleven month discomfort worthwhile. And sharing my unbelievable stupidity with your friends and family will help to raise awareness of the lifelines this charity throws. Please click on the justgiving link below to donate.
I will see you again after 11 months and 40,000 miles.