Let’s start with some good news. My earring wasn’t lost to King Neptune – it was in my sleeping bag. I found the front bit first, had a little dig around in the furry inside, and found the back. Result! somehow don’t think I will find my Henri Lloyd glove in there though.
Basically, it is all good news. No one was badly injured, the boat is still pointing in approximately the correct direction, and the miles are being eaten up – although very slowly. The knock down happened when we were about 1200 miles away from our destination, we are now just over 600 away. Still a good few days to go, but in better shape than we could have been. This is when the team spirit really shows – the crew have pulled together to make a very effective team – under an exceptional leader. If I had half the spirit that Wendo has I would be thankful. She has shown herself to be calm and precise under extremely harrowing circumstances. Nothing phases her, and she always has the answer to any problem that may arise. If it isn’t the right answer the first time, there is always another suggestion around the corner. I have never met anyone that is so capable to skipper a boat. Well, let me qualify that, being that I have never sailed before. I will compare it to leading a company – the person at the top needs to be right for the company to be right. The person at the top of this boat is right. She has admirably dealt with all sorts since we left St Katherine’s Dock last August, and the knock down could not have had a more dedicated and capable person in charge.
Back to the day it all happened. There were three teams of people – one for my rescue, one preparing for the casualties below decks and one to get the boat back in control. Once I had been deposited down the stairs with Guy, Marc went up the mast to help get the main sail down. Wendo’s fear was that the running backstay had been damaged, and without that and a full sail the mast may break. That happened very quickly. The steering was sorted, although when the rod that connected the two wheels snapped, it rendered the port rudder useless. The team on deck worked tirelessly getting the boat into shape to cope with whatever may happen next.
Once I was downstairs, I was in the hands of Pops and Cheryl – and in the lap of Val. She was my cushion on that hard saloon seat – although I was just glad to be down and out of the intry elements. Once my outer gear was removed and a patch put over my eye, I was despatched to a bunk and in my sleeping bag to warm up. They then had to patch up Wendo. She had a really nasty gash on the top of her head, about three inches wide. Cheryl said that the cranium could be seen it was so deep. She had to have some of her head shaved to get the steri strips to stick. I think she may be wearing a hat on most occasions for the next few weeks! She did take a selfie picture of her and me with our bandages – she had one that was like a skull cap and then under her chin, and I was like a one eyed pirate.
After Frankenfripp, she thinks she looks like Tuckenstein. Haven’t come up with a name for me yet – although David did ask if he had to pay to see me. When I asked why, he said you normally do for a horror show! Marc thought that I looked like I was about to star in a grade A horror movie, which a couple of days later was downgraded to a grade B with dodgy make up effects.
The next morning was very quiet. The wind had stopped, and all those fronts that we had been experiencing seemed to have disappeared. Weird. It was as if the wind knew that we needed to have some calm in order to take stock and repair. Which is what we have been doing – well the “Royal We” that is. I am afraid I have taken no part in it – in fact I have been a bit of a pain in the arse as I need help to do virtually everything which is taking up
someone’s time. But saying that, every day I am able to do something that I couldn’t do the day before. I did make everyone laugh when I stated that I fully intended to leave this boat in Seattle unaided. Wendo just looked at me and said “That will be a first. When have you ever left this boat unaided? Do you think your legs are going to grow six inches?” Point taken. I had forgotten that when we first moored up we don’t have any horseshoe to help get from the boat to the dock and I have to have someone catch me.
Once I was let out of bed – with only one properly working arm and legs that were a little unstable for the first few days it was impossible to do myself – I found the only place I could go was in the galley with the esky to prop me in so I didn’t move. I have to eat with my left hand – not a problem with food that is easy to spike with a fork, but I found noodles a little harder. I had virtually no movement in the upper right arm to start with, but now, day by day, it is gradually getting more and more flexibility. Well, flexibility may be a bit of an overstatement. The reason that I know that it is going back a little further than it did yesterday, is that yesterday I had to transfer the toilet paper to my left hand to throw into the bin over my right shoulder – today my right hand managed to get back far enough to drop it in! Toilet was one thing I made sure I could do myself – it may have taken some time, and I needed help with the door, but I gritted my teeth and persevered. I have to live with some of these people for another three and a half months – don’t want that image in their minds!!
Having quite a few of us that were not capable of being on watch, the watch systems had to be changed around somewhat. There were six of us downstairs, but Guy, Vesna and Dora have taken on permanent mother watch. That is such a help – and being three of them they have made some real treats. This morning we had pancakes for breakfast, yesterday we had peach crumble for pudding and scrambled eggs for breakfast. Marc made lunch yesterday, and has gone back on watch today. He is looking much better. After being thrown from the helm, and then jumping up the mast to get the main sail down, his body has taken a bit of a thrashing. Those that are on mother are doing a fabulous job of getting me in and out of my bunk, and making sure that I am fed and watered at the appropriate
times. My body may not be in full working order, but my mind seems to be back to normal. Bit bored actually – oh, but I was before, so no change there then!
This morning I actually managed to undo my lee cloth and let my bunk down one handed and on my own. I have perfected a roll on the bad arm to get out feet first (sounds more complicated than it is, but the good arm is on the wrong side to hang on to the ropes to give me stability). Guy was right there just in case, as always. I can now manage to walk up and down the tunnels without someone having to be there to lean on – but again, the boat is very stable with no wind knocking us from side to side, which would be a
completely different matter. Means I can get to the computer whenever I need to – and the nav station isn’t being used. Hate depending on somebody else to get me things and take me places.
When the knock down happened, everything that wasn’t locked in a cave locker moved. The starboard side of the board went to the port side, so there was an awful lot of things in places they shouldn’t have been. My wash bag was missing until this morning – note to self, tie it on with a carabina next time! But, it was absolutely saturated. It was under bags of food and boots, in a pool of water and had been for the last few days. As I had been cleaning my teeth with toothpaste on my finger, I was rather pleased to see it whatever state it may have been in. I also hadn’t brushed my hair since either. The inside was saturated, but needs must. The toothbrush was washed with sea water and a baby wipe, and felt heaps better than my finger.
My hair has had the pacific in it, so a little bit of bilge water on a hairbrush isn’t going to make that much difference. Work with what you’ve got!
Still haven’t found some of my clothes that were in the mesh lockers at the end of the bunks, and haven’t checked that the computer works. It will be a miracle if it does really. Trying to think if I backed up the latest food spreadsheets and recipes in the dropbox in Qingdao – really can’t remember. My kindle was in my waterproof case, but was soaking wet – but am pleased to report is working nevertheless. For the first time since last August I am reading books in a couple of days again. Good job I have several downloaded on there.
We do not have enough fuel to motor all the way to Seattle – as soon as we started to motor we knew that disqualified us from this race, but there was no other sensible choice. We have 942 miles to go, with 730 litres of fuel. Without wind or tide either with or against us, that is just under 200 miles short of the mark.
We are sailing without motor when there is enough wind, but the winds have turned very, very light. Good on one hand, but not on the other. With only one rudder, we need to keep on this tack otherwise we have no steerage. If the starboard rudder comes out of the water, the port rudder is doing nothing. That means if the wind changes direction, we have to change direction with it. At present we are pointing in the general direction of Seattle. Not sure how long it is going to take to get there – we have a chart up on the wall with 800 miles counting down to 100, and crossing off each 100 as we complete it. A bit like the church roof fund!
I think we are all secretly wishing we had a “Beam me up Scotty” button that we could activate, and get to Seattle where many of us have friends and family waiting.
But, we will get there when we get there, and as long as we are all in one piece that is the most important thing.
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