20 August - Respeck for Biscay

Magnetic Attraction
Roger and Margaret Pratt
Thu 20 Aug 2009 08:29
As planned, left Cedira on 19 August at 7am BST.  No fog, and no wind either.  The wind filled in during the afternoon, but from the SW - no sign of it veering as the GRIB predicted.
Overnight the wind got up.  Preparations had been made: a reduced jib, and a reef in the mainsail.  It felt quieter than it was because we were running, and maintaining the course to optimise the sails was the main activity on watch.  However, at c3.45am ( I know because I was listening to world service) a rain squall came through.  The winds were heavy: I saw 37knots true, and we were yawing about.  There were big gusts, and the wind had veered about 30degrees.  I called Roger up to help.  He came up in a state of undress, and so soaked by the waves - but initially, anyway, there was no time.  The jib was flogging - when light was shone it showed that the spinnaker pole had snapped, allowing the sail to go forward untamed.  I wound in the jib, and as I did so, the boat gybed, breaking the preventer.
Over the next hour we restored order.  The pole is now secured in the bow - am not sure what can be salvaged, if anything.  We took in a second reef, and then a third.  A pocket-handkerchief for a jib.    We were still careering along at over 7 knots, with the swell corkscrewing the boat all the time.   But the wind is now dropping as predicted and I'm just jotting this down before we refresh the forecast. 
But the good news is, that despite being thrown off course, we can still make Ushant; and we're now  about half way across!  And, we're still sailing....