Graham Deegan
Wed 2 Dec 2009 02:26
Hi Team,
It had to happen sometime, things had been going too well.  This afternoon we have had a 'Shocker' as they say in OZ.
Firstly we have been somewhat smacked around by a few squalls last night and although they did not turn out to be disasters it was possible to think that they could have been.  Two out of the three watches saw 30 knots momentarily and when you are running under spinnaker at night with a small crew the thought of wiping out is not good.  That said, the breeze is warm and therefore does not have the weight or viciousness of colder climes.  Anyway we are wary of what could be and we are all new to line squalls.
We took a decision this morning to drop the spinnaker in preparation for an oncoming squall which we can normally see from some way out on the radar.  We can see them because of the rain underneath them and generally we pick them up 8 to 10 miles out.  Anyway this was a good call and we still maintained very good speed under jib and main alone.  Our problems started when we tried to put a spinnaker back up.  In this instance we were using a very durable 1.5 ounce which we think is fairly bullet proof.  This particular spinnaker is launched via a device called a 'snuffer' which is a large lightweight cloth tube which we can use to slide over the sail to very quickly pull it down, literally snuffing it out.  Good in squalls. However when we tried to put the sail back up the snuffer kept jamming and it took sometime before we found that somehow we had a knot in a retrieval line and I guess by the time we had sorted that out we lost a couple of hours of running at maximum speed.
Finally when we did get the kite up, one of the guy ropes broke in a gust.  This took sometime to sort out and finally this afternoon when we were all settled down we were overtaken by a very large rain cloud which ran right over us and completely killed the wind.  We finally got out of it by going at a right angle to our course for an hour but not before most of the crew got completely soaked.  When I say most, I actually mean all apart from me as I had been smart enough to get on the radar early.  Unfortunately it is probably difficult to pull this stunt twice however I am sure that there are variations on theme that the rest of them won't pick up on too quickly.  That said, they have all eaten and gone off to bed slightly tetchy apart from the Nipper, Sparks (DB) and myself.
That all said, it was good to hear that we are probably currently leading the ARC on corrected time. Now that we have broken into the last thousand miles it is possible to think we have a grip on this thing.  However since we don't how we got into the lead in the first place??? and we have 1000!!! miles to go we are not holding our collective breath.
We hope for a night of good speed and low drama to make up for the distance we have lost. Currently under Spi' with 14 kn of true wind.  Just Dick and me with two mugs of tea.