It’s hot, hot, hot, not that I’m complaining. [What I am complaining about is that this is my 3rd time of writing this because the computer has been switched off twice in error and I’ve lost everything, I’m hot, sweaty and I want to go to bed, Grrr]. The sunsets have been beautiful so far, just last night we watched the silhouette of two of our boats under spinnaker as the sun set to reveal thousands of stars in the sky, some shooting ones too. The sunrises would also take some beating. This is the stuff that sailing holiday dreams are made of and for our new leggers (all women, look out boys it’s now a 50:50 crew!) it is a fabulous leg. The sun is shining, we are sailing downwind, I’m dry at last and the wildlife is spectacular. We’ve had large pods of dolphins doing synchronised jumping out the water together with flying fish and my first turtle sighting. He was swimming along towards the boat to see us and later appeared with a bird on his back who looked for all the world like he was just catching a bus to the local shops. Sadly, right now he is swimming past us as we are caught with no wind and our pacey 1.3 knots is no match for him as he glides past. Up to this point we have been under spinnaker from 12 hours into the race. Flav has been amazing at passage planning and working with us on deck. We have never hoisted, dropped and packed so many spinnakers in the race so far. He has taught us to peel (come on keep up; hoisting one spinnaker inside or outside the other then dropping the one you don’t want) which has kept our pace up and has calmly helped us when we have had two sheets break free due to the strops giving way (now, I know I’ve lost a lot of you here but the main point is that you now have a tennis court sized bit of sail flapping free from the boat and you need to retrieve it safely in one piece without it going under the boat, breaking or someone going into the water as they try to pull it in). To add to our challenges we also had a guy chafe (chafe is the sailors enemy, I believe it’s the runners too but in a different way!), and had to retrieve the spinnaker then too (we’re getting good at these). Our biggest challenge so far and one that took us from 5th place to 9th was the small matter of a spinnaker wrap. Our medium weight spinnaker became wrapped around the inner forestay then round the outer forestay numerous times then the head around itself. To encourage it to unwrap we gybed the boat. With the boom out over the guard rails this is not a pleasant experience as it swings with some force across the deck. On our second gybe the vang (a rope between the boom and the mast; is anyone still with me??) caught on our main halyard winch and ripped it clean off the deck. The first I knew of this was when, while standing at the shrouds holding the spinnaker sheet, I was surrounded by the fall of cogs, nuts, bolts and washers. The first Lynn knew of it was when, in her bed she was rained on by the bolts and screws that hold the winch into the deck and upon looking up to see what was going on, she could see the stars above her. Once the shrapnel had stopped falling I looked round to find a rather large gap where our main winch once was, so now, not only did we have a monster of a spinnaker wrap to contend with but we had no main winch. On having this info relayed back to the helm where Flav was, the response came back, ‘oh dear, well lets keep trying to unwrap this kite’. Unfazed as usual, and calm, he patiently helmed for 3 hours in the hope of unwrapping but no joy. His next course of action was to be hoisted 80 feet up the mast in the hope that he could manually unwrap it. Two lots of 2 hours of trying and still no joy, so we ploughed on under main only and planned to try again at first light. Eventually, with sheer good luck the kite came down unharmed and we were able to pack, hoist and sail on but sadly having lost some places. We have been trimming hard to get those places back since. I feel for Flav, he is working so hard to win and is so frustrated at the fact we now have no wind. It is not unusual for us to be at the back of the pack but for Flav I suspect it is and he is clearly thinking all the time about what we can do to go faster. Despite the setback, we are all happier than ever and glad to be still sailing. Panama here we come. Now I’m off to bed to calm down after numerous times of re-typing, to get over the frustration I’ve now also eaten 2 chocolates so there goes my healthy day!

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1 Response to RACE TO PANAMA

  1. chris cowen says:

    Sounds much more like a happy ship and a great leg, what with all that wonderful wild life. good to hear your enjoying your self.

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