Atlantic crossing 9

Sun 3 Dec 2006 04:18
Just reread 7 and find it hard to believe I wrote it. The Cape Verde Abyssal
Plain just jumped up and bit us. During Friday evening the wind started to
pipe up, gusting up to 20 knots during the night, we had a little bit too
much sail up but things were not too bad, and we were spanking along at six
to seven. Thisbe is like a willful horse continually straining to follow her
own direction. The influences are now all westerly, but we need to get down
to 20N 30W to be sure of a good run for the rest of the way, as I see it
anyway. Our position fix always shows we have done 2 degrees to the west,
and one south every day, the waypoint is now 150 miles off, another good
days run after which I let her have her head and run to the west. We had our
best days run of 155 miles up to 8am Saturday and have been howling along
all day in the teeth of near gale conditions. It doesn't actually feel like
a storm as the skies are clear and we have been in bright sunlight. The wind
is now gusting up to 30kn as I write, Sat eve. Bro Vic has his dander up and
is doing his grunt on deck, Alex is asleep so I thought I would try to give
you the feel of this as it is happening. The breakage we had on Friday
happened when I decided we needed to service the rig as it was becoming
obvious we were in for a blow. We released the sheets prior to rolling up
the two sails together, but a bit unevenly causing strain on one side which
broke the casting allowing the pole to fly free. A blessing in disguise as
it turned out, we discovered that the spinnaker halyard, from which the
join in the poles is suspended, had almost chafed through on gear further up
the mast. We made a good job of lashing the poles together, which gave me
much more confidence in the joint as it always looked a bit flimsy to me
anyway. The only solution to the chafe problem in the near dark was to knot
it temporarily and wait for daylight the next day. I noticed that the
halyard was prone to get caught in the sails, so tried to align it in such a

way as that could not happen. We have been running all day Sat slightly
south of west, but the wind has been increasing. In the early afternoon I
decided to reef down in preparation for what was promising to be a rough
night. Big following seas look very scary and are getting us wet while
sitting in the cockpit. Succeeded in getting a few rolls in the sails but
the spinny halyard is also wound in, the sails were good for the conditions
so we decided not to go up on the fordeck to sort it all out as it was
becoming a dangerous place to be with all the twiste gear lashing around.
Here we are now, 11pm Sat night howling downwind in 30kn, white water all
around, sometimes almost steady but mostly rolling side to side quite
violently. In control though with only a little yawing around, if you were
blind and deaf it would seem quite a pleasant sensation, but the sights and
sounds make me tremble a little. Its at times like these sailors thank God
for a strong boat.
I am confident that all will be well, though would be happier with a little
less sail up, no can do though.. Covering a lot of ground. Manny

ps Was going to send this off last night but didnt want to worry people.
Just come off watch. Had a great moonlight sail, sail config. perfect,
slight reduction sea/wind during night. All well, nitey nite.