Progress Update

Wed 12 Dec 2012 13:11
Water Music Progress update.  Current position 14.55.14N; 51.53.70W.  Approx 500Nm East of Martinique and St Lucia.
Since the last blog we seem to have it all, once again!
Yesterday seemed set to be sunny and bright with light Trade winds blowing.  So we set the twin headsails and they carried us along very well through lunch.  Unfortunately we cant get the autopilot to work at all and so it is manual steering shared between the three of us for 24 hours a day.  It seems that we have a damp problem with the control unit, brought about by the lighting circuit.  Again we cant turn off the lighting circuit to the control unit – so have to live with manual steering.
After lunch the wind died and we handed both the twin genoas and set the big spinnaker.  This was what we came for and the boat was bowling along heading straight for our destination in relatively flat water.   We reflected on the situation just before sunset and reckoned that we would be in for a quiet night. There were no black storm clouds for once and we had not seen any rain at all that day.  Sadly that forecast turned out to be rather optimistic!
At 2230, after 4 hours of going along at 8-9Knots the webbing holding the spinnaker halyard onto the top of the mast burst with a huge bang.  We then had to get the spinnaker down in the dark as the wind built steadily alongside us.  Worth noting that we were told that chafe would be our biggest problem and we needed to eliminate all aspects of metal on metal.  We assiduously did this by inserting webbing straps between every pair of shackles we could find.  So far this policy has failed at every juncture, resulting in two lost blocks over the side and then this early dousing of the spinnaker.  However, it was probably a good thing we got it down when we did – I dont like to think of us sailing with that spinnaker up in 30kn of apparent wind!
Our next problem was that the sock line on the spinnaker had jammed and so the only way we could get it down was the traditional method of gathering it all in and stuffing it down the hatch.  This went well and we shortly had it all under control.  We then set the genoa up on Port pole for the night.  Some time later we discovered that the small hatch above the twin cabin had been sheared off in the excitement and we now have a hole about 15 inches by 9 inches in the deck.  Not ideal and so are now looking at how we cover it up and yet allow some air into the boat.
Through the night the wind continued to build as well as the sea and we have had 30 knots of wind –always in a constant direction – over the deck.  with the exception of a few rogue waves, it seems that the sea is calming down again.
It looks like we have some 520 N Miles left to run before our left turn to head down to St Lucia – having abandoned the plans to go to Martinique.  At this rate we expect to be there on Sunday.
Morale remains high and at least it is some time since we last saw the rain.