ARC2012 Diary: Day 19 – Saturday

I started my shift at 5.30am. Funny, I would never be up so early back home, but it’s now a routine and I don’t think twice about it.

I take over from Will. Progress is slow, but the stars are out at least. At around 8.30am I notice a black patch on the sea behind us. What must be a very dark cloud is casting a dark shadow over the sea, and is gaining on us. I can’t make out where the sea meets the sky. I keep an eye on the wind indicator, the wind blows double in strength,  if it hits 14 knots I’ll wake Oliver up. It’s likely to be a squall, and my instructions were that we should get the gennaker down ASAP if the wind exceeds 15 knots as the sail will rip, being such a light material. Awoken from his slumber Oliver tells me its too far away and goes back to bed. Two hours later and the wind dies completely. The gennaker flogs continiously, and Troskala  slaps her stern on the water like an impatient horse.

Oliver wakes up and we take the sail down, before a squall hits and the rain comes down once again.

After the rain it is decided we will get the main up. I was confident msyelf and Will could do this quickly now we’d had some practice (enroute!). I take sail ties off, and Will raises the main. Simple. Normally. The waves were confused, and Troskala was crashing through them sending up mountains of spray. I slipped once, and that was too close for comfort as I was taken unaware. This was the closest I’ve been to falling off. All the ties came off apart from one. In the heat of the moment I got a bit of an earful, though the sail tie was constructed of two bits of material which was caught inside the knot making it impossible to untie. A useful thing to note for the future.

Next minute the genoa was fully out and flogging, with Will at the bow trying to hold it in. Without going into too much detail there was a lot of confusion, wave slamming, spray and shouting. It’s almost impossible to hear anything over the sound of the sea when you’re by the mast which made things ten times worse, all the time you’re thinking “how the hell did that just happen”. The genoa flogged into the sea and scooped up a few waves. I thought this would be the end to the genoa.

Sometime afterwards the wind dies completely.

I made pizza for dinner, we’re motoring now for 10 hours, which is going to use up nearly all our fuel. It’s better than sitting still.

Before everyone goes to bed we learn ‘Girls for sail’ are 100 miles ahead.

I’ve only had one down day on this trip, today comes a close second.  I want to be with my parents and Emma as much as soon as possible now! The mood is somber and  I believe we either do all we can do and keep the mood positive, as much as can be expected, or we wallow in self pity. I wish we could motor all the way to St Lucia.

Mentally this is the tough part of the journey!

698 days to go!


Author: Tim Butler

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