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[ THE WIRE ] Skipper’s Report

19th January 2017
Time: 1848z
Position: 17°12.1N 033°26.8W
COG: 285°T
SOG: 8kts
Wind: E 5
Swell: NNE 3-4ft
Sky: 4/8 cumulus and some very pretty cirrocumulus
Weather: Good.

“Jetsam: unwanted material or goods that have been thrown overboard from a ship and washed ashore, especially material that has been discarded to lighten the vessel”

Alex’s watch has had a very busy afternoon indeed. More on that later.

The morning passed without much event. There was the exciting question of ‘who didn’t pump the toilet and left it for the skipper to do’, and more of the like. ‘Breadgate’ was replaced with ‘Foodgate’, which was a more significant issue. Without Seb to lovingly curate each individual meal and ensure everything was within the parameters of the set menu we were in danger of small amounts of individual creativity blowing a much bigger system, with much bigger consequences. The biggest consequence of all would be that I might have to get involved with the victualling. This would be very simple, as every single meal would just be pasta and pesto, leaving a very happy skipper and a very unhappy crew. I’m pretty sure they don’t want that, and we are now ruling the planned menu with an iron fist. Seb’s legacy will live on.

Back to Alex’s watch. Since the spinnaker came down yesterday evening we have been running under the much less stressful but also much less fun yankee 1. It was good to give everyone and the boat a rest, but Disco is built for speed, the team are built for hard work, and I’m built for very little sleep it seems. We had also been reduced to overtaking boats at a mere 1-2kts faster than there own speed. That just isn’t on.

The pole and kite were prepped, the headsail dropped, and the spinnaker hoisted. Well, sort of hoisted. I reckon we got it about half way up the mast before it all went a bit wrong. As I said yesterday, hoists and drops; most definitely where the drama lies. We did actually wool it this time – where you tie the spinnaker up with small bits of wool to keep it in one neat bundle until you’ve hoisted it to the top of the mast. That’s the plan at least. With a big pop it fully opened, the entire kite flying a good 60ft in front of the boat. This is a high-risk game indeed. The boys started frantically working the winch, but it really is hard work trying to get a fully loaded spinnaker 40ft up a mast with one winch handle. Then it went in the water. All it takes is to dip the bottom edge, and the whole thing gets sucked under the boat. Now we have the team trying to winch it 80ft up, the ocean trying to suck all of it under the keel, and to add to the drama the lazy guy ended up trailing it’s entire length behind the boat (dragging the port corner of the kite with it), while the port sheet somehow ended up in front of the keel and dragging down the starboard side of Disco. Suffice to say, this is not going exactly to plan.

However, we are a honed team of Challenge 67 sailors by now, who take these challenges well in our stride. Everyone continued to work their respective area calmly, and with some nifty pole adjustment we managed to get the kite out from underneath the bow without shredding it to pieces on the rather pointy anchor hanging off the front. Alex, Connor and Moris continued to tag team work the halyard winch tirelessly until we were finally flying the spinnaker again, rather than trawling it or it flying us.

A bit of tidy up and retrieving the various bits of string now trailing behind the boat, and the world is now as it should be again. We have decided to call the spinnaker Jetsam, as she seems to be thrown off the boat more than enough to have earned the name. I’ve learnt some valuable lessons about improving the hoist, and am planning on the next one going much more smoothly. The name, however, will now stay forever. All good spinnakers need names.

The sun setting, Jetsam is flying, Disco is on course, and we are making good speed to Antigua. Joe has just cooked up the 5 pizzas that have been waiting in the freezer for an opportune moment, and I think I can officially declare Disco a happy boat.

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