Day 21 - Sunday 12th December - A broken vang thanks to Flying Fish of Cowes and Frosty races to the finish

Mariposa Blog
Robert Newman
Sun 12 Dec 2010 12:22
N 14 29 W 054 34
The last 24 hours have continued to deliver strong trade winds - up to 40 knots in the gusts/ squalls and we have made good progress and largely under sail - much to Frosty's and my (Nick aka 'Willy') delight.  We have been able to persuade the motor sailor (Rob) and the motor boater (Spiller)  that a) we can in fact go faster under sail in these conditions and b) the straight line is not always the quickest route -  although this part of the discussion ruminates on!    Either way as I write we are under sail and  making 6.5 knots over the ground with around 375 miles to go. 
Broken Vang - Flying Fish to the rescue... 
Yesterday afternoon we sailed close to another ARC yacht, Maymio - a yacht for whom Rob had, in Las Palmas, provided a thorough bottom scrubbing service and received some hot buttered scones and in return!?  Maymio was moving along nicley under the "twizzle" (twin headsail) rig - we later learnt that they had 'blown' their spinnaker two days before - and this stimulated the competitive juices on board Mariposa and more sail was called for and approved by the skipper.  Great, the speed went up a knot and we were off!  Then BANG -  under huge tension and like a shot from a gun the dacron rope that attaches the vang (hydraulic metal post that holds the boom up/down) snapped.  Fortunately the main sheet held the boom and we were able to reduce speed/ pressure and assess the damage.   Andy Hunt of Flying Fish (sailing training company in Cowes) had spent a day on board Mariposa in June in the Solent and had recommended we carry a made up replacement for this critical piece of string. Fortunately I had followed this up and more fortunately we could find it on board.    So a big thank you to Andy and to Flying Fish (a most excellent company with some remarkable staff - well they managed to get Frosty and I through the Yachtmaster exams - no mean feat according to Spiller.
A new side to Frosty
Over the last 48 hours Frosty has been a revelation.  As the wind has built and the family arrival has got closer he has shed his relatively torpid laid back image (almost as rapidly as he is shedding sunburnt skin) and become an offshore racing fiend.  Whenever a sail change is called Rich is first to volunteer for the physical and relatively dangerous work on the bouncing foredeck.   On watch he views near gale force winds as just "a bit of a breeze" and "time we put some more mainsail out" ,   last night's log/events provide some illustration. 
When I handed over to Rich at 2am we had our usual chat where i briefed him on the conditions we had had for the past 3 or so hours (we do this so that the next watchman is well prepared and has all relevant information)  In summary I had had heavy rain and squalls with winds gusting  to 40 knots and then for the last hour or so a steady 20-30.  After the squalls had passed I had  eased a fraction more main out and we were making good boat speed (around 7 knots) with a 'goosewing' rig.  Shortly after this Rich writes "wind dropped to steady 14-16 true, no sign of squalls so FULL main out" (!)  When we awoke (after I landed on the floor having been tossed out of my bunk like Arthur's toy rabbit) we were on our side, hammering along at 8-9 knots over the ground  with Frosty gripping the wheel grinning madly in the style of Toad behind the wheel of his latest motorcar.
This exhilerating ride took us through to dawn and has provided a lift in more ways  than one.  We hope to make landfall sometime Tuesday evening.
mariposa out!