Day 10 and 11 - Busy!!!

Thu 7 Dec 2006 14:17
It may seem implausible to those of you looking at the photos of fishing, celebrating milestones and all of us sunning ourselves but we have been too busy to write the blog for over 24 hours.  We had a lot of wind overnight (2 nights ago now) but the solo watches went well and we reached dawn without incident.  Around 0830 we were hit by our first serious squall, and we had another about an hour later.  We then spent the day surrounded by very threatening clouds, squalls everywhere and an average wind speed that was always threatening the genoa.  However, furling the genoa at high wind speeds has been a problem all the way across and we have not managed to completely crack it even now.  The first time we tried to furl it before a squall it became twisted and broke free in the gusts - dreadful amount of flapping from the sail and cursing from the skipper.  We managed to untangle it without taking it down when the wind died a little.  The second time we could not get it furled properly as the squall hit and had to lower it (eventually into the water) with three of us hauling it back on board after a massive struggle.  At the same time as this was happening the spinnaker pole track (on the mast) sheared off under the pressure of the jib which was still pulling as we entered the squall.  I think we had too much lateral pressure on the track with the pole too far back and that, possibly, some of the screws holding the track may have worked slightly loose earlier. Whatever the reason we found that we had a wet and wild genoa stuffed down below, no way to set the jib and therefore had to set the main in order to keep going.  Fortunately I decided to put 2 reefs in the main as night was approaching because we were almost immediately hit by another squall as dusk fell in which we recorded 42 knots of wind and Colin and I got soaked.....we decided to play safe for the night and stayed with just the reefed main until morning.  Slow but safe from the squalls we expected but could not see.  Everyone was pretty knackered by the time we had eaten so we drifted through the night watches without much interaction at all.  I was pooped - hence the radio silence yesterday.
As it transpired the night was relatively uneventful despite the constant threat of an unintentional gybe.  This morning we woke to sunnier skies and only 25-30 knot winds with no squalls so far today .  Colin and I have repaired the track (using a variety of ingenious bits and pieces), re-set the jib using the pole again and we have re-furled the genoa down ready for a slightly lower wind force.  Although we have probably been doing 2 knots below optimum for about 18 hours we have managed to maintain 6-7 knots of boat speed in roughly the right direction and we are back to our full suite of sails again.  I am not sure that I will ever be able to completely trust the spinnaker track again but hopefully we can get it replaced in St Lucia.  No pictures today but I will try to report again later on to fill in the gaps in the social diary side of the blog!!