Day 17 Lazy Dawn's Ocean Passage 7/12

Thu 8 Dec 2005 11:22
Hi All its been another roller coaster here!! 20 - 30 knots of wind with big confused seas. The squalls keep running through and giving huge amounts of rain fall and some big gusts of wind!! Max on our meter is 56.8 knots. So lets say the last 24 hours were / are demanding!!
We spent yesterday afternoon under just the parasailor making over 8.5 knots average speed with some wild surfing with boat speeds over 10 knots for minutes at a time. Alas it had to be stopped, the control of the boat was only possible under manual helm and with night falling we had already agreed to reduce sail to the Genoa to ensure a safe night for us all and the boat.
So how do you get down a 125 metre kite running dead down wind? It's not possible to roll out the Genoa with the Parasail as it has a 'snuffer' that should let you pull a large sock over the kite thus killing the power and safely enabling it to be brought down to the deck ( Excellent plan )
Peter was on the Bow, Jo in the Pit and I was on the helm.
The Plan
Drop a few feet of halyard to take some power out!!
Release the sheet to further reduce power!!!
Then sock the kite from the bow,
Then release the guy once 50% of the kite was snuffed!
Sounds simple ?
We had the engine ready just in case we needed to provide some drive to maintain steerage if needed as we would be bare poled once the Parasailor was socked and that's not a good idea given the sea state.
As Peter tried to pull down the sock the kite continued to fill and things were not looking too good as he was being lifted off the deck a bit!! So I decided to motor forward to reduce the apparent wind in the kite to assist the drop. As I put the engine in gear it made a familiar noise and clunked to a stop :o( The 'lazy guy' (one of the 4 lines attached to the spinnaker) had run through, gone over the side and had been eaten by the prop!! So now we have an angry kite still flying off the bow with Peter as passenger and Chris and Jo blaming each other for the loss of engine ( Not our best bit of team work )
With no engine and no steerage there was little point holding on to the helm any more so I agreed to go forward and pull Peter then the kite down on to the deck! It was quite a sight as the waves crashed all around us. All got soaked but in 15 minutes the kite was bagged on the deck and we started to clear up the string all over the deck. With the line crossed under the boat by the bow, Peter got soaked again as he leant over the bow with a boat hook to push the guy under the bow so at least it was all lying on the port side.
The 'lazy guy' was now jammed in the prop at its middle point so we had the 2 ends tied off on the deck cleats and with dark approaching fast agreed this was the only option for the night. We couldn't cut it as the loose end might foul the rudder and then we'd have no steerage. The Genoa was rolled out and we were off once more all be it at a slower pace, especially dragging the line. The line was slapping against the hull like a kid pinging a rubber band against a box except we were actually inside the box!! Fantastic here is to a good nights sleep we all thought.
The atmosphere was quite interesting!!!  Poor Peter did not really know what to say or were to look, as Jo and I had a silent war brewing. I was totally pissed off  as we had screwed things up. Jo had allowed the line to run free ( 4 lines to control, I'm not an octopus!  JK ) and neither of us had noticed it was under the boat when the engine was put into drive. ( But at the end of the day not much we could do now to change things ) The facts were simple.
1)  We had a line ( acting like a sea anchor ) under the boat which in time would remove all the anti foul paint and then the GRP (the hull!)
2) We could not put the engine in neutral so could not use it for charging the batteries (  Luckily the Duo Gen our water towed generator was doing a fine job of maintaining enough volts to maintain the vital systems.)
3) No Engine bit challenging to enter the marina in Rodney bay ( Especially first time and probably at night )
4) No Engine no hot water no showers!!
5) No guy no spinnaker flying tomorrow :o( 
The list is in priority order and I think we all had this on our minds as we started the night watches.  The night was quite rough and due to the sea state none of us got much sleep. In the morning we had breakfast together and I suggested we had to at least remove the rope to protect the hull from further damage. This would mean a dive under the boat, not a problem in calm water but not in a Force 5/ 6 and big swell. However it needed to be done to ensure we could protect the hull e.t.c
So we set about slowing the boat down.  We dropped the sails and the spray hood to reduce windage but the boat was making 2 -3 knots on the poles alone and this was way too much for me to swim against. So we did all the text book things..... Streamed all our lines, Buckets, Fenders, The sea anchor ( Drogue ) off the side and back of the boat. With all this crap dragging in the wake we slowed the boat to under 1 knot - success!!
I put on my climbing harness to fix me to the boat, as if I was to become free with no engine and limited sails they would have a hell of a job to get me back on the boat! Then my diving gear BCD and Pony air cylinder lent to me by Vic's ( thanks mate!! ) I strapped a huge divers knife to my thigh and finally put on my fins and mask.
Splash I was in!!  Soon being dragging along by my safety line... The current was quite strong and it was all I could muster to swim back to the boat.  I soon found the guy round the prop and set to work, it was totally jammed between the gear box and the prop and I tried to pull it out but it was totally jammed. I cut off one end and then handed the other end back on deck to try to use a winch to help pull the line out of the gap. It slowly started to come out bit by bit with the guy's on deck winching as I was turning the prop by hand. All going well we had about 3 more turns to free off and the job was done when..... the air ran out.  I was left bobbing around by the boat with no air and every wave was pushing me under as 8 tonnes of boat was trying to hit me on the head ( I can honestly say this was not a nice experience ) I tried 3 or four times to free what looked like the last turn on the prop only to find another one under it :o( with this I decided it was time to quit. I cut the line off and was helped back on the boat by the guys.
I was totally knackered and could almost not move at all, still shocked by the whole experience. I went below to dry off and change and almost as soon as I was below felt sick due to the amount of sea water I had ingested!!!  So that was that and I was sick and my breakfast was in the sink!!
We slowly pulled all the lines in and started sailing again about 2 hours after we started the procedure. We had lost in total 3 hours sailing and some 12 miles over night so probably a total of 30 miles from our daily runs for yesterday and today.
We have maintained the Genoa only, in the rough conditions for the rest of the day and as night falls we will continue to do so as Peter serves up a Chile to raise our spirits!!
Lets hope this is it for calamites and we can get the engine started before we sail into Rodney Bay!!!