Day 13 -A Broach - Iridescence, phosphorescence and incandescence
Sat 4 Dec 2010 12:45
N13 56.2 W033 25.8
Today has been a long, at times testing, but ultimately rewarding day for Mariposa's crew.
It all started yesterday evening. Following an enjoyable afternoon - we'd stopped motoring for a swim and enjoyed close encounters with a large pod of pilot whales and yet more dolphins. Then the wind picked up so engine off - yes! - and full sails set. Spirits were high/ flowing and we enjoyed supper - meatballs in a tomato and pasta sauce accompanied by a robust red care of the skipper. As the sun set Mariposa flirted with Balu (a Swiss yacht - Etap39 ARC no 232) as she cruised along nicely under main sail and Genoa (sail at the front). Rob had a chat over VHF with the lady aboard Balu... who complemented him on the 'cut of his jib' i.e. Mariposa's big blue and yellow 'Gennaker' (large sail at the front) that we had launched to make the most of the then light trade winds, which we had at last found.
As the evening wore on the wind freshened, and still with the 'kite' up, Frosty and I decided it would be prudent and cooler (it is so hot below decks) to double up on the first two watches. We enjoyed the spectacular phosphorescence in the water and were joined in the cockpit by two very much alive and flapping flying fish. Their miniature torpedo shaped bodies are a striking deep iridescent blue colour however they are a bit on the small side so despite a relatively lean couple of days with the fishing rods we returned them to the deep.
Aside...Question: What is the collective noun for flying fish? Answer (ours at least) A "schlock" - we aim to inform!
Any way, back to the story... the wind continuing to strengthen (25 knots) and having mulled over a number of sail change options we removed the big blue sail and put up the heavier duty white sails. This involves quite a lot of effort and banging about in the dark on the foredeck...which also happens to be the 'roof terrace' on Spiller's sleeping quarters in the carefully organised/sanitised forepeak. "... a herd of deranged elephants with head torches banging around on my ceiling'
The time was now around midnight. Then the wind dropped a bit and our speed went down to 5.5 knots. The is, skipper who was also finding sleep elusive, called for more speed and we agreed to get the white sail down and put the kite up again, this proved to be a mistake. Just as we re-launched the 'kite' we were hit by a 27 knot gust and, having mistakenly reduced the mainsail, we had the "pleasure" of our first 'broach'. Basically the bow gets pulled around towards the wind by an overpowered kite/gennaker and the further round it goes the stronger the apparent wind becomes and as the forces multiply the sail can force yachts over onto their side.
Fortunately Mariposa is a strong and well ballasted yacht (note earlier blogs regarding liquid supplies on board) so we were able to "dump" the sail (let go the sheet), bear away and take it down again without much problem! Once we had tidied this up and regrouped it was about 1.30. All fine really except the main sail had become jammed in the in mast furling system. So we then spent another hour putting up the inner forestay, setting up the boom as a second 'pole' for the foresail and attaching and hoisted the no 2 foresail. No one had slept and naturally enough there was a certain amount of incandescence in the air due to the time lost during all these manouvers and the ultimately disappointing boat speed.
Later Rob and Spiller (Frosty and I were now below trying to sleep) discovered various wires and ropes tangled etc and took the two headsails down.
The dawn brought some much needed light and after several cups of tea (thank goodness for Earl Grey) and a team talk we tidied up the various issues (jammed main sail, chafing points, twisted halyards and stays etc) re-hoisted the 'kite' and have been flying this all day making 6+ knots on a broad reach. Sleep has been caught up and once again spirits are high as we strain every sinew (honestly girls!) to get to St Lucia in time to enjoy a holiday with our wives/families
Lots of shlocks again today but no more aquatic mammal encounters to report. To my knowledge Frosty did not drop/break/spill anything today and Spiller let somebody else do the washing up... so all in all a most unusual day!
NIck (aka 'WIlly')