Today was yet another day of squalls and sunshine for us. This is becoming a bit of a lottery on a number of levels. First of all there is the ‘what to wear dilemmas’ – full foulies to stay dry and be very hot or as little as possible and get wet then a bit cold. I generally alternate depending on how much I am in need of a shower. Yesterday it was full foulies for me, however, today, having been covered in cement like suncream this morning and baking in 30 odd degrees, it was definitely time for a shower. The shower timing was perfect, 90 minutes before going off watch the dark sky that we had been chasing all afternoon finally found us and we were blessed with strong winds (up to 39 knots) and a torrential downpour which lasted an hour. Now the length of downpour, time and intensity of it is important because it takes enough water to get wet, long hair included, then enough to keep you dripping whilst you shampoo, rinse, condition, shower gel and then rinse (more than one bottle in the shower for me!) there is nothing worse than being half way through, covered in soap when the rain stops. I’ve learnt my lesson on this now so I’ve taken to digging a bucket out of the lazerette to catch water during the process so that I won’t be left covered in soap with no means of rinsing – get me, a professional! Our afternoon downpour was so heavy today I even managed to wash a T-shirt and some gloves in the puddles on the deck.
The second dilemma in these squally conditions is what sails to have up. When there is little/no breeze it is preferential to have the windseeker up. The windseeker has quite a large surface area but is a very light and thin sail (imagine grease proof paper) and therefore not rated to withstand much in the way of wind so when approaching a squall you then have to drop it quickly and replace it with a sail more appropriate to a stronger wind (in most cases for us at the moment this is the Yankee 1) to prevent you blowing the windseeker into a thousand tiny pieces. Today, however, we were flying our heavy-weight spinnaker, trying to make the most of the wind we had when ‘BANG’ the snapshackle (metal clip that attaches the rope to the end of the sail) gave way and our spinnaker went flying out from the boat at a less than jaunty and useful angle. We were lucky that no one was hit by the rope as it whipped through the boat being pulled with the power of the sail on the way past (it did melt the outer sheath on one of our halyards as it burnt it on the way past). It was many hands to the pump as we recovered the sail back into the boat and down below for packing. Not a moment too soon I might add, as the squall of the day hit us just after we had reset our sails with the Yankee 1 and one reef in the main. So quite a bit of excitement this afternoon.
We are making slow progress to Singapore due to the light winds, although we do have these squalls, they are not lasting that long so we are often faced with flogging sails and have at some points been becalmed. One highlight in the last week though has been crossing the equator. Although it was the second time for the round the worlders, it was a new experience for 2 crew members and respects to Neptune had to be paid as is customary with equator crossings. With both watches on deck Neptune (aka Baz) and Davy Jones (aka Rich, Trinnng, Daisy) made a spectacular appearance from the front hatch. Neptune sporting a somewhat Chinese styled moustache and slightly dubious accent (Baz later admitted to not being very good at accents!) came forward with a large sceptre (broom handle with cardboard and tinfoil fork! Blue Peter eat your heart out) in hand. Davy Jones was suitably attired with a pirate hat, large earring – very similar in shape and size to a Christmas bauble, and parrot on his shoulder (a little Johnny Depp esq, but I’d never tell him!). After some stern words from Neptune the new equator crossers, Anne (aka Panda) and David (aka Dunkin) were tasked with making us laugh as their payment for crossing the equator. This just left the customary task of providing an offering for Neptune, we are sure he loved the Madeira wine just as much as we did!
I’m due back on deck now and have my fingers crossed for more wind as although our ‘cruise’ is enjoyable, at this rate we won’t be in Singapore for 108 days!