Day 10

Majic 2's great ARC 2006 adventure
Peter Howe
Wed 6 Dec 2006 12:01

Position at noon GMT on 6 December 2006 was 14.51.74N, 40.17.24W. 196.2 nautical miles sailed in last 24 hours on the boat log. 1200 nautical miles to go to St Lucia.


By early afternoon the wind had piped up to a steady 35 knots. The rig of full main and largest genoa were overpressed, and tended to round up to windward every 15 minutes, creating chaos down below with the angular momentum caused by the swing. At 14.00 GMT we put the first reef in the main. We deemed the sea conditions too rough to turn completely to windward for the reef. Instead we furled the genoa, released tension on the gybe preventer and kicker strap, came up to the wind by about 40 degrees, and Ron went up to the mast, suitably harnessed and tethered, and heaved on the main to pull it down 2 metres to secure the reefing point on the bull's horns. Not an easy task when the sail was lying at 60 degrees to its sliders in the mast track.


Reef in, gybe preventer and kicker tensioned, genoa unfurled, back on course, Majic 2 stomped off at a respectable 9 knots. A reduction in speed of 1 knot but a much more comfortable ride for the crew, who had carried out a necessary but trying manoeuvre admirably.


Dinner was prepared by Ron. Some of Lynne Hamilton's vegetarian ravioli left over from the delivery, mixed with a jar of Bolognese Sauce and the remnants of MIk's beef curry from the previous evening. Washed down with an excellent bottle of Rioja


Through the first part of the night the wind blew at 25 - 30 knots, Majic achieving a maximum speed of 15.4 knots when surfing the waves. But by morning it had returned to 15 - 25 knots, causing us to consider whether to shake out the reef, and where could we find more wind. Alas, the downloading of the daily winds forecast brought us little hope for any immediate change to the current situation.


We have renamed the forepeak 'the swamp'. It's main use has been for storage of 7 sails and food supplies but Pete Lanoe has decided from the outset that he prefers to sleep there rather than in the main body of the saloon, where the other 3 crew members 'hot bunk'. Owner and skipper, Peter Howe, has his own cabin. That may sound grand, but he shares it with the majority of our food supplies, the floor slopes, and it has only one small hatch onto the cockpit which must remain open for ventilation. Yesterday it was unfortunately open when a 'growler' sneaked over the cill and filled the cockpit to a depth of 6 inches. The scuppers at the back are designed for draining but this time a more convenient exit was found, and we spent all afternoon drying out the cabin.


Back to the swamp. So-called because of the steamy jungle climate that now pervades this once dry store. A week of persistent leaks from the forehatch and the extendable bowsprit, coupled with the occasional overflow of the sump in the heads (toilet) next door has created this dank and fetid atmosphere. Furthermore it has not been possible to get any ventilation going, since opening the forehatch invites an immediate response from this very angry sea. Nevertheless, Pete returns to his eco-climate after finishing watch and climbs in among the many rolled-up sails, disappearing from view. He is a sound sleeper and can only be awoken by a gentle shake; no amount of calling works. Nobody is keen on entering this environment, particularly at night, for it is necessary to enter one of the many tunnels created by the sails, and crawl around until you find him. Our worst dread is when Pete Lanoe and Pete Howe are on watch together and the other 2 saloon bunks are occupied. This means that the unfortunate fifth crew member must spend 4 hours in the everglades. Prize for anyone who can come up with a new nickname for Pete Lanoe.


Last night we heard that the yacht 'Y Not' has no steerage and drifting about 300 miles upwind from us.