Crossing the Equator

Lars Alfredson
Sun 7 Mar 2021 23:57
POS 0:00.000N 043:07.354W

Dawnbreaker Blog
Updated 01.30  08.03.21
Woo hoo - some "Excitement" to report.
The Saturday sail was a lovely 9 knots worth of steady progress with a couple of rain showers which provided a pleasant drop in the temperature and a bit more "gusto" to the winds, which were coming from behind us.
Just before the evening meal at 7 pm, of some very nice Brazilian Sausages and Kenneth's awesome Lyonnaise Potatoes, we had received a message from Nikolas (who is about 3 days ahead of us) warning us of "squalls" that he had encountered and the high winds and seas that they caused. We had already encountered 2 such squalls, with winds of up to 35 knots seemingly coming from no where. Anyhow no squalls were going to interfere with evening meal, however the continuing rain did mean that we ate in the relative safety (from the rain) of the wheelhouse. We had just finished eating and I was in the process of taking plates etc down to the galley when "WHOOSH" - Honestly you could feel the temperature and barometric pressure drop and hear the wind howl in, with a ferocity I have only ever experienced from my ex wife. In the next 30 seconds the boat took on a persona I hope I never experience again. She heeled so hard to port that I swear if there had been any stars I would have been looking at them through the starboard window - and I was, fortunately wedged on the port side facing inwards. The boat speed rocketed from 9 to 12 plus knots and the wind instrument was showing 40 plus something knots (when things get "this busy" you don't get much time to stare at the instruments !). A split second later there was a loud bang (a Crash Gybe - NOT GOOD) followed shortly afterwards by a dull thud which you could feel resonate through the boat and she was now "Rocking and Rolling" better than anything Elvis could have done.
Lars - "Something has broken". My thoughts - "No Ship Mess !!!"  (was that O.K Caroline ?)
The next 5 minutes were like poetry in motion.
As Lars is heading out into the cockpit with the flash light, I am already clearing the rest of the dinner stuff downstairs and into the sink. It is with regret that I have to report that 1/4 bottle of very nice Chilean Merlot was lost down the sink - but better there than broken glass on the floors. Worse still was that my trusty Sony Vaio laptop which had been on the large table in the saloon was now on its side on the floor with the bread maker in 3 pieces on top of it. Good news was that the screen was still illuminated, but with what is happening NOW there is no time to deal with it, so I got all the bits off the floor and wedged them into the relative safety of the sofa and the spinnaker we had been looking at earlier - and all of this while the boat is trying to lay on its side.
Back to the wheelhouse and Lars is reporting that the Genoa sheet has broken, as has the boom retainer. These are 16 mm ropes with a breaking strain of many tons and yet the forces of nature have just ripped them apart. The wind is still topping 40 knots.
Lars "We need to gybe" (turn to the right with the wind coming from behind us - which means if not controlled properly will have the boom "thrash" from one side of the boat to the other in a split second, and with such force it could damage the boat.
Some seamless crew work saw the main (boom control rope) pulled in and the starboard (right) Jib sheet tensioned by Kenneth ready for the Gybe, and the torn ropes pulled into the cockpit area (we don't want them trailing in the water and possibly getting caught in the propeller if we have to use the engine) by me.
Lars "Standby" (an instruction to turn off the auto helm so that he can take control of the steering).
Me "Standby Standby" as I press the auto helm OFF button.
Lars "Turning Turning"
Kenneth "Here she goes"
Very dull thud as the well controlled boom switches to starboard side of boat - sound of winch as Kenneth winds in the Genoa sheet and a few Finnish curses as he slowly lets the main sheet out.
Lars "That's better - Auto helm on"
Me "On On, 30 degrees"
Lars "That's better - let's get inside, I'm getting wet ".
5 minutes later, the wind has dropped slightly to 30 - 35 knots, we are running at a steady 9 - 10 knots, the boat is heeled over at about 20 degrees and all is well in the wheel house except for the fact that Kenneth is reminding me that I was supposed to be making the coffee. It's not easy being a Deck Hand/GDB (General Dogs Body)
Now I blame it on all the excitement because I am ashamed to admit that I was late for duty. I woke after my pre watch snooze at 12.30 am. Kenneth was in the wheelhouse advising that he had tried to wake me at midnightbut without success and was convinced I was either dead or in a coma, so he had left me.
My "Night Watch" was filled with fully unfurling the Genoa (more power) and chasing a failing wind to try and  maintain 7 knots of progress. Oh yes and the Auto Pilot switching itself off for no reason at just gone 4 am and me spending about 15 minutes trying to fathom out why I couldn't get the boat to NOT steer onto the wind ! (the track plot on the computer makes for interesting viewing). 
It was a welcome sight to see Lars walk through the boat to take over the helm at 6 am. A quick check of the data showed we had covered 34 miles over the last 5 hours - so just a tad under the 7 knots I had been working for.
Today, SUNday, has only been notable for the fact that there was no SUN, just baby squalls and lots of rain and wind so light that at times we were forced to use the "Iron Sail" (the engine). Beer O'clock came and went as did lunch which was the remains of the previous evenings "Bangers & Spuds". A few minutes passed G&T time Kenneth announced with a large smile "I know what I am cooking for dinner tonight" and disappeared into the galley which was soon exuding the smells and fragrances one associates with a small bistro in Northern France. Sharp on 7 o'clock I had set the table in the wheelhouse (still intermittent rain outside) and "Eh Voila" ...... A Huge dish of bubbling Mousaka. Yum Yum !
There was then much discussion about the fast approaching Equator and my "Equatorial Baptism".
Fortunately "Keel Hauling" (ropes attached to each wrist and then being dragged underneath the boat with such force that your body scrapes the barnacles off) has been outlawed by the International Courts.
Being "Tarred and Feathered", whilst still an option, is unlikely since I don't think the combined tar deposits in Kenneth's dozen or so pipes and the few Pink Flamingo Feathers I collected in Namibia will be enough to cover my "nether" regions.
So that just leaves the "Cat of Nine Tails", and whilst in a kinky way the thought of it being applied by one of Neptune's Mermaids or Lycra shorted Lady from the "Normal Germans Crew" in Brazil is appealing. By Capt. Lars or the Butcher of Helsinki ? - I think not.
However I was spared all of this for now because Capt. Lars advised that Neptune only works 9 - 5, Monday to Friday and since we would be crossing at about 8 pm ish on a Sunday, all "Baptism's" should be adjourned to more social working hours.
At 23.13 and 50 seconds (UTC), Sunday 7 March 2021 I sailed across the Equator on S/Y Dawnbreaker at W. 043° 07': 354.
We celebrated with "Equatorial Shots" and I broke into the "Sailors Survival Kit" my mother had given me at Christmas. I forgot to mention, but just as we were about to leave Brazil I received the concerning news that my mother, who I had been noticing appeared to be more and more tired during our Face Time calls, had been taken into hospital with gastro pains and breathing difficulties a few hours earlier (4 March). Earlier this afternoon (7 March) I received the great news that she is already complaining most vociferously regarding the temperature of her tea and that that the meals which are delivered are not what she had ordered from the menu - so it looks like she is on the mend (again !). Super huge Shout Out and Thanks to Karen Robinson her friend/carer and the NHS.
Anyhow Capt. Lars immediately took a liking to the Foxes Glacier Fruits and Kenneth is already eyeing the large bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk Chocolate with the sort of passion that only a "Finnish Kook" could.
I have taken over the helm at midnight, we are whizzing along at 10 - 11 knots with a steady 25 knots of wind from our 4 o'clock.
Other than the fact that we are heeled over at an almost constant and very tiring 20 - 25 degrees of pitch - All is good in the world.
I even had time to finish off my "Equatorial Baptism Outfit" (Pictures will be available from all good stationers and news outlets).
It is now 6 am Monday morning - Kenneth has taken the helm and I am off to bed.
More news on my "Baptism", the "Poetry Prize" winner and another fantastic "Dawnbreaker Competition" in later blogs.
Deck Hand Pete - Over and Zzzzzzzz