Monday, November 30, 2009

Nearly halfway

As of yesterday Moonstruck had covered 1100 miles and had 1600 to go. They are suffering a bit of wear and tear - blew their spinnaker out after a couple of broaches, and had to get down the genoa and stitch it back together - but overall it sounds like steady although unspectacular progress. They are here (see what this means on the ARC site):

Extracts from Sam's emails:

29 November

Really disappointing night, poor progress mainly due to a windshift in the night that brought the wind into the east, We have been having problems with the sails. Genoa sacrificial strip is fraying and we have already lost the leech line on the main ( I may have told you that already) Anyway, we were on main and staysail only and the windshift posted us way down south, making only 3-4 kts VMG to waypoint. Very rolly too, hardly any sleep.

So today, we took down the genoa and bundled it into the cockpit to carry out repairs. Alan has a sailmakers palm but it is left handed. There is also a patent quick stitch awl but neither of us could get it to work, so I used it to make the hole and pushed the needle in by hand. There was quite a bit of damage so it took us a couple of hours. Then we had to rehoist the thing. I copped a big wave all over me. Very warm and salty. Had to stay head to wind and in the end we put the engine on (allowed in these circs) an d I steered. Job done -- but the fat lady had still to sing and Alan wanted the jib poled out. Fortunately we had a dress rehearsal in Gran Canaria so it went up fairly painlessly. Much better motion, some rolling, but importantly we are dead on course and making good speed. We did 185 miles on the log noon to noon today, but I expect we lost in distance to St Lucia.

One thing has struck me, Kalessin is a much more efficient vessel and much easier to sail well. Winches, cleats, deck gear, all sensibly placed, this boat has very primitive sheet leads that cannot be adjusted from the cockpit. The boom vang adjustment required you to go out to the foredeck (you could I suppose dive through the front of the greenhouse) and the power winches are a pain with complex sheet leads so that the power winch can drive them. What's wrong with a bit of manual?

Joan and Lauren both played blinders in today's turmoil and I suspect we shall all sleep very well tonight roll or no roll. When It's like this I sleep in one of the main saloon bunks with lee cloths. Felt the need for an Indian after all this effort and so Joan is doing a chicken tikka balti. Let's hope things are stable tonight. I am about to have my shower and put some clean clothes on. Balti on your t-shirt spoils the effect!

Saw our first flying fish today and last night a three masted schooner. Sunny and hot. Took a pic of the schooner but it was probably too far away. Flying fish ditto.

28 November

Wind flukey last night, lost speed. Couldn't get a good connection with Herb [weather guru] either. Better this morning , back up to 8 knots. Problem today, topping lift rope has worn through leech line pocket on the main, so we have a fluttering leech. Also some chafe on top of one of the batten pockets. Object lesson in chafe protection (or not).

Have set staysail which seems to be helping. I miss our boat and our crew.

26 November

Never been to thanksgiving before, let alone mid-Atlantic! Delicious aromas coming from the galley. Due to eat in about 45 mins. Good run last night, around 180 miles noon to noon. Gybed the boat at 0300 and now making better Westing, more direct route to St Lucia. We are getting weather info and routing from a guy called Herb Hildenberger via SSB. He lives in Canada. He suggested we get down to Lat 20 where he expects better winds. The northern placed guys look set to find winds dropping to 5kts and as we have no light airs sails (any more!) we need to follow the wind.

We are thinking of ways to jury rig the wrecked spinnaker. We could only use it in very light winds, but it would be better than nowt. Lauren thinks our spinnaker would look better in a Paisley material. Personally a nice pastel tartan would suit me!

No more alarums and excursions, quiet night, no ships seen or yachts. Skies overcast. Getting hotter, butter is melting and we have turned right!

Some problems with rest of fleet. One yacht abandoned with rudder failure. Crew rescued and yacht now salvaged by Tenerife based rug. Two other yachts returned to Las Palmas with rig and other problems and a nice crowd of Canadians we met are diverting to the Cape Verdes with an injured crewman. We think he may have fallen and broken something.

25 November

Drama strikes! Good night run with spinnaker (cruising chute really) then at about 0800 monster broach. broken glass all over floor, me stuck like a stranded beetle in my bunk. Autopilot overcome by combination of big wave and sudden gust. Boat recovered but spinnaker dipping in water. Went on deck to raise halyards a bit.

All settled and I was below changing into shorts after breakfast when big bang, spinnaker tore straight across the head, sail in water. Took Alan and me around 30 min to recover the sail, it will see no further service this trip! Now under reefed jib and main, less rolly but speed down. I guess we should really have downed the spin earlier. Wind 20-24 true so bearable. Swells 2-3 metres. No worries all well. Only casualties some wine glasses. I am staying safe.

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