12 December Why do things go wrong in the dark?

Or, things that go bump in the night...... Tuesday evening we were still sailing on a reach, i.e. the wind is coming over the side of the boat. The wind was expected to veer (go clockwise) which would bring it round to the stern and we could alter the sails to run downwind. Unfortunately the windshift happened overnight and, with only one person on watch, it isn’t possible to set up the pole to hold the genoa out to the side. The alternative is to alter course to keep the wind on the same angle, simple but it meant we were sailing fast in the wrong direction! This means for every mile we sailed only a proportion was to the waypoint resulting in a disappointing day’s run of 155 miles. All night the rig had been making funny noises, the sails were also noisy and the swell was throwing the boat all over the place. These conditions are not conducive to sleep. As dawn came up I spotted that the pole, which John had tied to the guardwires, was no longer secure and was possibly responsible for the twanging noises coming from the rigging. Time to wake up the skipper, three quarters of an hour early! The pole was easily secured. We have a rule that no-one leaves the cockpit whilst alone on watch during a night watch, so I couldn’t go and do it. We reviewed the wind conditions and decided to furl the genoa, set up the pole on starboard (right-hand, other side of the boat from the main) alter course to bring the wind behind us and pull out some of the genoa again. Message to my brother who says he skips over the technical bits about the sails: the genoa is the big, white, flappy thing at the front of the boat. The result was instantaneous, speed went up, rolling reduced slightly, extraneous noises stopped. We are on our way to St Lucia. Today it was Starblazer’s turn to be net co-ordinator for radio group A on SSB so I did it. The SSB is the only conversation we have with anyone else. I think the radio propogation conditions must have been good because I managed to hear just about all the boats in our net plus a number of refugees from radio group B who can no longer make contact with their group. The groups are defined by boat size and not all boats have SSB. Only two boats with SSB in our group are ahead of us, not bad out of the 18 we have been in contact with most days plus 7 bigger boats from group B. One of the racing fleet in our size group has already finished, allegedly they had SSB but never joined in or answered our roll call! For the second night running this blog was not written during my night watch. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out why. As a treat I cooked a Spanish omelette (tortilla) for lunch. Dinner was a Thai green curry with some of the mahi mahi I caught, delicious. Joyce

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