Day 15 | Don't count your chickens....

Mon 10 Dec 2018 14:52
14 20.0N 059 46.8W@ 1300UT 10/12/2018
Daily Run: 186nm
Tune of the day: "Fishin' in the Dark" by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
After lunch yesterday, the breeze continued to drop, but we knew it was temporary as all of our forecasts pointed to a new breeze setting in by mid-afternoon. As we drifted, we could see our ETA in St. Lucia fall dangerously close to missing last orders in Rodney Bay on Monday night. That, for the crew, was a depressing thought. Luckily for us, we are entered into Cruising Division, which means that if we want, we can use our engine. However, engine usage does incur hefty penalties. Deciding that a cold beer was more important than our actual finishing position, the decision was made to switch on the iron donkey for a couple of hours and motor through the light airs, towards St. Lucia until the breeze filled in. Now, I say motor, but Theia is such a great sailing yacht, that her speed under engine is less than the average speed we've achieved under sail all passage - so we were still very keen to see the new breeze arrive.
Rolling away through islands of seaweed, Theia chomped away at the miles. Suddenly, there was a repeated thudding sound. The boat vibrated and the engine struggled to hold revs. We couldn't believe it. We'd run over a discarded fishing net. Best case scenario, it's just hooked on the prop and we can release it with a blast in reverse. Worse case scenario, it's polythene rope and the friction of the prop has melted it onto the prop shaft. The blast in reverse didn't work. Ben and Minkey donned diving masks and the two of them assessed the underwater damage. The sea was still rolling, and without the ability to use the engine, we were unable to point Theia directly into what breeze we had to slow her to a stop. This meant we were drifting sideward's at about 2kts - too fast to swim to keep up and work at releasing the fishing net under the boat. A rope system was devised to drag both Ben and Minkey down Theia's side and under the water to where, with knives, they chopped away at the bird's next of a net. It was grueling work. To make matters work, we had a squall heading in our direction which was bringing bigger waves that was halt progress on freeing the net. Just in the nick of time, the net was release and both Ben and Minkey returned to the bathing platform battered, bruised and absolutely knackered.
Problem fixed, ironically the new breeze then arrived and, once again, Theia was off like a rocket. Last orders were back within our sights.
The breeze through the night continued to be fruitful as Theia surfs along. A few close encounters with fellow competitors as the fleet condenses kept on watch crew alert, and short rain clouds, kept them refreshed. As morning broke, we gybed once more (hopefully the penultimate gybe of the race) and we're now keeping a sharp watch to see who can claim the much craved "Land Ahoy" call.
Theia Crew
Today's "firsts" for Iain
- Period on the bow with out having to hold onto anything during a gybe
Daily Stats
Max boat speed: 14.4kts
Dolphins spotted: 0 
Whales Spotted:  1 (very briefly before he got bored and went away)
Gybes: 3
Flying Fish on deck: 1
Buckets of vomit: Still zero

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