on 12 December
It appears the lighter winds of 15 knots sneaked up on us in the early hours of the morning. Between midnight and 04.00 the boat was rattling along at 7 - 8 knots. By dawn we were down to 5 knots. At this rate we expect to finish around 12.00 GMT on 13th. Mik is trailing his hand line in hope of catching one last fish.
We are still bareheaded since the spinnaker or genoa would not pull effectively at this full downwind point of sail. We need the opportunity to turn right about 30 degrees and hoist our light 0.6 oz. kite in order to go faster. The problem is that we would then miss St Lucia and end up in Martinique. Alternatively, if the wind would oblige and turn through 30 degrees, this would do very nicely and we could hoist and lay the northern tip of St Lucia. The forecast is for a wind shift through 45 degrees to the north later today, so we will just have to wait and see. It's going to be a long day, and with a clear blues sky with temperatures in 30's, we have decided to double our beer ration, as a hedge against dehydration and a sort of weaning process you might say, in preparation for our arrival and Pete Howe's birthday.
The finish is a north-south line placed in Rodney Bay, which is situated on the north-west corner of the island. The northern end of the line is a buoy, at the southern end a committee boat, manned we are told 24 hours a day. We have had to move the spray dodger, carrying our ARC number 206, from the port guardrail to starboard in order that it can be seen by the officials on board. Just in case they are not alert at 08.00, we are asked to also record our own finish time from the GPS satellite navigation system.
Due to unprecendented interest in Bosun Mik's technical notebook, we have prevailed upon him for one final piece before he renders himself totally useless in the beckoning bars of St Lucia.
Well, not really canvas – it’s actually made of heavy Dacron.
Storm sails usually live in the bottom of the deepest cockpit locker, swimming in a mixture of salt water and diesel. You have to demonstrate that they are onboard in order to qualify for certain races, but otherwise they languish unloved, unattended and forgotten.
Until of course it suddenly blows old boots and the sails are expected to be in perfect condition and fully rigged with sheets and strops. Oh, and the crew are magically supposed to be proficient in rigging and setting them.
crew of Majic2 got together to rig and try out the storm sails before we left
The problem with storm jibs is that most modern offshore yachts use aluminium extrusions covering the forestay, to improve the aerofoil over the foresails. In extremis (usually defined as force 9 and above) these may fail, and leave you no means of hoisting a sail forward of the mast. The regulations require a separate, emergency forestay so that the storm jib can be hoisted using separate hanks – back to old technology, hurrah.
Our purpose-built inner stay is attached to a special deck fitting when in use, but is usually stowed away against the mast.
The storm jib is a very small sail (look back at the previous item on #1, #2 and #3 jibs – this one is about a #5 ½ ) and ours came with the boat. Unfortunately it was rigged with a luff rope to go up the groove in the aforementioned aluminium extrusion, so it was sent back to North to be equipped with proper piston hanks for the new wire stay. It sets off a 2m tack wire, to allow it to fly clear of the boat in strong winds, hopefully above the waves. It sheets back to the usual deck cars (blocks on tracks) used for the other headsails; the strop and sheets are ready-rigged and live in the bag with it.
The trysail replaces the mainsail in extreme weather, and sets up the track on the mast but doesn’t utilise the boom (set “loose-footed”). As the mainsail will still be stowed on the boom, there has to be a gate in the track above the stacked mainsail, to allow the trysail slides to be slotted in. Majic2 didn’t have a suitable fitting, and much ingenuity was applied before a solution was found. The trysail also sets high on a wire tack strop, and is controlled by the spinnaker sheets. The boom is disconnected from the supporting rod and the end lashed down onto the side deck out of the way.
To give an idea of size, our biggest spinnaker is about 135 square metres. The storm sails cover 25 square metres together.
The storm sails live in specially labelled bags, with their rigging components, in a labelled locker under the fore cabin berths, and we are practiced in their use. Emergency gear is one of the things on the boat that are not taken lightly.
Well, here endeth the fourth lesson on the rig. There’s nothing much happening in the boatswain’s department at the moment (why boat swain? I thought a swain was a lovesick peasant lad. Or a very poshly pronounced pig. Ah well.). This morning we discovered some wear on the gybe preventer (see part one) as it passes through the foredeck block, so we manufactured a webbing strop to hold the block, to improve the angle of the lead. Otherwise, the palm, needle and beeswax have stayed in their bag.
The next job will be detuning the rig for the onward delivery cruise – we’ll stow all the spinnakers and racing headsails and rig the old Dacron #3 ready for pottering up to the BVI. Simplicity and ease of handling will replace racing sophistication and the quest for speed, and quite right too.