That's soooooooo much beter

Hello all you frozen peeps back in Blighty, sorry to be smug but it sounds really horrid there - Lady C has a blog full of good news tonight and to start off Gaynor is sitting in front of me, funnily enough in the same position that we were in when I launched myself at her but we have swapped sides. I hope it doesn't mean she's planning a counter attack. I've just asked her for a nasal update and she says " It's better, only slightly swollen on one side but I can breathe through both sides and it doesn't hurt when I touch it"  We are at 01.24 Hrs and just changing watch, the sea has calmed, the inky black sky is full of stars and we are screaming towards St Lucia having finally got the Twistle rig up this afternoon.  The difference it has made to the boat is truly amazing and we are now gliding across the water in total harmony with the elements.   There is still a slight swell but she is handling it beautifully with speeds of ,,..... wait for it,. 10.3 Knots registered on the GPS .  Our average is just over 6 Knots per hour in around 13 knots of apparent wind which is coming from 065 degrees as we head 260. under Twistle, set full and mizzen. The problem was that it was just too lumpy to be able to do it before as we had been using it doubled up as a conventional genoa and had put a shackle to hold the 2 clew rings together and we had to get up to let that off and attach 2 outhaul lines for the poles. For the techies I will try and give you an idea of the setup - The Twistle rig is two equal foresails, cut with very high clews,  that share a common rope luff that is run up a roller furling forestay at the end of the bowsprit. It is supported by two spinnaker poles which are loosely joined together at the inboard end, set so that they can float from side to side.   Onto each clew ring are tied, the sheets and a shorter thinner line which is about 6mm and 3 metres long. Both are fixed with Bowlines.  Then a rope crucifix is made up.  North is connected to a halyard that runs up the mast and controls the rig's height.  South is connected with a downhaul that runs to a turning block which is fixed to the stemhead fitting using a strop and brought back to the cockpit. The strop allows it to clear the coachouse roof and gives it a fair lead to the secondary winch beside the companionway. The downhaul allows you to control the rig and move it forward away from the mast.  East and West are clipped into the inboard end of the poles Stbd and Port respectively ((but not yet).  With both sails rolled up together the first step is to let a small amount out until they look like a pair of ears sticking out.  The sheets are led aft to turning blocks on the new fittings that we had made at home (thanks Rob) ,  these are just stainless rings welded onto 12mm stud which I have used to replace the forward fastening screws on the aft deck cleats.  This is where most of the load is carried and it is a massively strong point which goes through the deck and a substantial beam below.  From the turning blocks they come back to the primary winches on either side and are controlled at the same time as each other, one on each side. Next is to thread the end of the thin outhaul line, which is tied to the clew rings, through the hole in the outboard end of the spinnaker poles and haul the pole ends out to the clew.  A jamming cleat at the inboard end allows you to cleat this off and holds them there. Now clip the inboard ends of the poles into East and West on the crucifix and in one dynamic movement ( this would have been worth a video, Max multi-tasking to the extreme) Unfurl the roller, keeping tension on the line so it doesn't wrap itself around the drum, sheet in both sails simultaneously, raise the uphaul and control the downhaul at the same time,  No mean feat but boy did it look good once it was up.  The poles are set at about the clew height and pulled away from the mast by the downhaul.  Oh yes we also rigged a preventer from the crucifix back to the mast to stop the poles going too far forward and have both running backstays on.  I imagine the next couple of days will see us refining it and practising reducing sail although it does seem very stable. Whilst I was writing the above a very wet squall came up from behind and I was watching gusts of 22 knots apparent wind and on the point of mustering all the crew to reduce sail, but it only lasted about 10 mins and the boat and rig were fine, glad it was going the right way.  I don't usually enjoy getting rained on unexpectedly but after 5 days at sea with no chance of performing ablutions it was not only very welcome but warm as well.   Running downwind in the seas we have had , with inner, double or triple reefed main and mizzen has been incredibly difficult and every time a wave went past us, and there were lots and lots of them, the boat would speed up as she surfed forwards and then when the wave dropped us we would literally stop, roll violently gunwhale to gunwhale 4 times and then slowly get going again from a standing start. It felt as though we were in a battle with the sea and it was taking it's toll on our sanity.  We also had the side decks constantly draining water.  Now with the Twistle we are going faster and when a wave passes us we surf with it and then the downwind side dips and the rig on that side spills the wind from the top in a very graceful movement. At the same time the other sail fills and we carry on with very little loss of momentum as the sail that spilled the wind fills and we power on, it's simple but it really works for us. All the decks are dry and we are a happy crew!  We have also taken 75 Ltrs of diesel from where it was lashed in the Lazerette and stowed it in the space below the cockpit sole beside the engine. With a following sea it was good to move almost 80 Kg to a site that is lower down and closer to the centre of the boat.  The new rig seems to lift the bow up and the sensation is one of sublime performance ( Max thinks he's on a racing boat)  Getting to the clews was today's entertainment as they are cut very high for forward visibility and so that as she rolls they don't touch the sea.  After  a delicious lunch of scrambled eggs and chorizo with tostadas, washed down with copious quantities of chilled Bollinger(ha-ha) we dropped the inner and put the engine on, Max helmed and we let the Twistle sails out on the port side and he took us up close to the wind.  I needed to get up to the clews and re-tie the sheets, take the shackle that was holding them together off and tie the pole outhaul ropes on.  Gaynor said she would hold onto me and try to stop me falling overboard and as she didn't show any signs of a wry smile I wasn't worried about having been so bad to her the other day.  The reefed main was on the port side with a preventer on so I ended up standing on the boom with my feet inside the stackpack, leaning on the shrouds, on tiptoe and just able to reach them. Some passing dolphins decided that I must have been about to return the compliment of all the shows they've given us and I think were expecting me to perform some sort of bizarre marine high wire act.  When nothing materialised they started doing acrobatics themselves but I wasn't able to concentrate on them and they made off, seemingly a bit miffed that we weren't all watching their antics.  On the fishy front we had another flying fish on the deck this morning but it was the smallest, cutest fish you could possibly imagine, measuring around 7mm in total length but perfectly formed with wings and all.  We have a picture of it on Max's hand and when we get to the other side I will post it to the blog. We've kept it as a pet (even though it's dead, What? it's not as if there's a shop out here where we can go and buy a hampster or something small and furry to stroke!) but I'm not too sure how long it'll last before we have to eat it.  Well that's my watch over It's been great sharing it with you, I'll be back for sunrise so please join us if you can.
 
07.30 Sat 9th January 2010
 
Good Morning, We're still romping along and in the last 12 hours have covered 74 nautical     miles, I don't want to wish the trip away because I'm really loving it now that the boat is performing so well but we could be there in 10 days if we keep up this pace. That would certainly be one for the records, 15 days to cross the Atlantic in a Hillyard.   I guess it would go someway to dispelling the often quoted " You'll never drown in a Hillyard but you might starve to death"  The morning sky behind me is beginning to lighten and apart from a few light puffy clouds around the horizon it looks as if it's going to be a lovely day.  In fact it's really warm at night now and I'm just in board shorts and T shirt with a lightweight Musto jacket and the wind feels positively tropical.  At night we always wear life jackets, harnesses and are always clipped onto the safety rings before we come out into the cockpit.  Any nocturnal wanderings are done under "supervision" and involve double safety lines.  The thought of trying to keep someone who had fallen overboard in your sight in this swell is unsavory to say the least.  With a clear sky above me it won't be long before I'm bathed in the beautiful warm glow of the tropical sun, think I'll have a shave, the first in 5 days - Gaynor is convinced that I'm waging a personal vendetta against her, and have a deck shower before the others get up - Bliss, to be clean again.
 
 
Hasta El Carribe
 
LadyC and her Twistling crew 
 
Ivan - Thanks for making the sail at such short notice - It's a dream