Day 28 out here in the South Atlantic and it is just a perfect sailing day, with an 8-10 knot breeze from the beam (East) and GS2 cruising happily along at 8+ knots under full main and solent. However, the previous 36 hours were trying, with a series of squalls and calms that called for a lot of sail changes and time on deck. I also had a bit of an issue with my big A2 spinnaker, where I was very lucky not to have lost it. I was running deep (160' true wind angle) and the wind built from about 15k to 20k and then a gust up to 24k- and I thought to myself "I should probably get that big kite down."
Not 5 minutes passed as I geared up to go on deck when I heard a weird noise and the boat suddenly slowed from about 12 knots to about 7. I came on deck to discover the spinnaker had wrapped itself around not only the headstay, but also the inner forestay. So I tried to pull down the sock to snuff it, but it hung up where it was twisted around the stays, so I had a real cluster #$&* on my hands. The sail was billowing all over the place and I am madly trying to stuff it down the hatch and just as I thought I was winning the battle, a section of sail went into the water and began dragging the whole sail into the water.
The boat actually began to sail backward under the load of the water in the spinnaker and I knew I only had a moment before the sail was lost. So I cut the tack line which held one end of the sail to the bowsprit and that released the water pressure and I was able to drag the sail back aboard, much of the white sail now colored red from the bottom paint (see Facebook photo)! The sail was a complete twisted mess which I shoved through the hatch below. After getting the boat cleaned up and sailing on its proper course with the solent jib, I took the next three hours to get the sail untangled and back in its sock and bag, ready to be used again. It was a very close call and reminded me that mistakes are most often made by being too aggressive, or waiting too long to change to a smaller sail in a building breeze, so I will need to be more vigilant in changing from a loose-luff to a hard luff sail in those conditions.
After that, we sailed through three major squalls involving torrential rain and hard wind for 15-20 minutes each- followed by very little wind for a half hour or so after each cloud bank passed. After these three squalls, we had no wind at all for about 3 hours last night, before a light Easterly wind came up that we are now latched on to and rolling with. Conditions similar to the Doldrums- which I thought I had left far behind.
After this frontal passage, I noticed a drop in temperature- as we are now at 27' South- so maybe the worst heat of the Equator is finally subsiding. I am looking ahead to good conditions for the next day or so and then some high winds associated with a gale, as I get down to the latitude of the Tristan deCunha islands. This is the area where the Volvo 70 "Puma" was dismasted a few years ago in the Volvo Ocean Race and Ken Read and crew motored to Tristan de Cunha for assistance. Hopefully I will not get the pleasure of visiting these lovely islands under similar circumstances!
On board, GS2 is holding up well, as is her skipper. Minor repairs include a new tack line for the spinnaker and refitting a few leaky bolts. Personally I have noticed some muscle atrophy in my legs, so will have to start an exercise regime to combat that. I have definitely lost a few pounds since the start but am feeling healthy and strong and am moving around the deck and boat like a monkey- three points of contact at all times!
Keeping my mind right is the top priority and I am trying to get enough sleep and stay active to stave off boredom and loneliness.
Your support messages help fuel the Kharma Bus- so keep ‘em coming.
Happy Sunday- and Go Pats!