14:13.78N 47:37.62W Trouble at mill

16.11 UTC
 
Wednesday 13th January 2010
 
Good Afternoon from a gloriously sun-drenched cockpit seven hundred and seventy-five miles out into the Atlantic Ocean from our intended destination of Rodney Bay on the Island of St Lucia in the Caribbean.  Lady Corinne, our beautiful old wooden ketch seems to be as excited as we are to have come so far and we have all made today a day of relaxation.  Even the seas have subsided and reluctantly decided to give us a day of serenity.   There is still a gentle rolling swell and the wind has dropped to under 10 knots.  The powder blue sky above us is completely clear with just some puffing Billy clouds around the edges and the sparkling ocean is a deep inky blue as it rolls effortlessly past us with the bright sunshine  highlighting the crests of the small waves that ripple gently across the surface.   Banana pancakes have helped to instill a sense of well being and culinary contentment and I am alone  here with the music on writing this while Gaynor and Max are off watch resting.  We really needed a Duvet day as things have been quite hard recently and it's nice to be able to relax and enjoy the ride for a change.   We have been going pretty hard and it's always difficult to switch off in those situations as you always have to have a lot of consideration for all aspects of the boat, listening for new noises, watching equipment and monitoring  systems to the point where you never really relax completely.    
Yesterday we became aware of a new problem with the roller furling gear that the Twistle rig is on at  the end of the bowsprit. For the benefit of the techies it is that the foil, which drops into a 6" upstand which is part of the reefing drum that the rope goes around , has sheared off where it comes out of the upstand. This means that the foil with the luff rope groove is not attached to the furling drum.  The wire forestay is still inside and connected at both ends so there is no problem regarding structural integrity but in that condition reefing the Twistle would be impossible.   A fix was needed so we cut a Heinz 57 Sausage and beans tin open at both ends, actually we cut two of them, and then cut down the Seam to make a flat plate of thin tin. I took up my often occupied space at the end of the bowsprit and, while my dangling feet were dipped in and out of the refreshing ocean, wrapped some duct tape carefully around the bottom of the foil tube until it was around the same diameter as the upstand from the drum. I then wrapped the flattened tin around both parts and tightened it and secured it with 6 x 50mm jubilee clips in a line adjacent to each other from the top to the bottom.  This should give me 3 on the foil tube and 3 on the upstand, I just hope one is bridging the split.  They were tightened with a  spanner, to get them as tight as possible, and then the whole fix was dressed with rope to stop the clip ends damaging the sail.   We will have to be very careful when we reef it and plan on motoring ahead to take some of the wind out of it so there is minimum strain on the sails when we roll them away.  Once that was done we had an early dinner, yes you've guessed it Sausage and beans, fried eggs and fried potatoes.  I'd forgotten how disgusting those little sausages are but then I don't think I'm nearly as fussy about food out here, I would definitely starve if I was,  I still worry about Gaynor eating me if we get into a survival situation. This really is a relaxing day, I've just lit the last of the Cohiba cigars I brought back from Cuba, it was a bit mouldy but I hope they're like good cheese and improve with age.  Gaynor wanted me to save it for Christmas day as she always remembers the smell of cigars being part of Xmas when she was young.  There was way too much diesel flying around to start striking up big fat cigars on Christmas day.  I have also made a new crucifix for the rig and we replaced the old one just after lunch. I got my little book of knots out and surprised myself by actually tying a jury or masthead  knot and then seizing the loops, it looked very professional and I wish I'd taken a picture of it, I can never usually follow  those knot tying instructions.
The weather seems fairly set and I will get a new update for the next 36 hours when I send this off. We're hoping it will hold for us as we really don't want to have  to make lots of sail adjustments to the Twistle if we can avoid it.  The warm breeze is down to around 10 - 12 knots apparent but we're still making 6 knots and that puts us around six days out.  We still have all of our diesel if things don't go to plan so we can afford to  motor for 3 days, but that would be a shame.  Last night on my watch I got a "low battery" message on the autopilot which surprised me as we had run the engine for a couple of hours to charge them right up the day before. I warned Max when we changed over and an hour or so later he fired up the engine, having got the same message again. When I came on at 0900 I lifted the Duogen out of the water and found the remains of our fishing line tangled around the blades and drive.  Once that was all cleared we were back up and running with the batteries charging.  We actually overtook another yacht last night, that's how fast we're going. Once we get to Rodney Bay it looks like there are plenty of repair facilities and we can get this roller furling repaired or replaced before moving on.
From all of us here, basking in the tropical sun, we hope you're experiencing a kinder climate back in England.
 
Hasta Pronto
 
Duncan - So good to get your news congratulations from all of us on the Sydney to Hobart race it must have been a great experience for you - lots of love to you and Mel
 
Christine and Vesco - Glad you're back in the pool