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[ THE WIRE ] Skipper’s Report

5th January 2017
Time: 1755z
Position: 31°16.7N 013°22.5W
COG: 210°T
SOG: 8kts
Wind: SSE3
Swell: SSW 1-2ft
Sky: 3/4 cirrus
Weather: Good

A slow and frustrating 24 hours here, somewhere off the Moroccan coastline in what is our watery playground. The Canaries look tantalisingly close on the chart; at least they do when you zoom out until the rest of the world is on the same page as well! This is sailing at its best, worst, normal; depending on what you look for from it and to what ends it serves you.

We’ve spent the morning running through our precious reserves of diesel, which has a very finite range on a boat such as this. A tentative offering of windy hope appeared mid-morning, and we had soon turned the sail locker on its head and dug deep to uncover the genoa, buried under every other sail during our earlier heavier weather sailing. On deck, a fresh round of cable ties appeared, and the sail was duly attached to the forestay. Henry opted to live life on the edge, breaking out a packet of cable ties significantly smaller than those used on the last occasion. I told him I was happy to go with it, as long as he was happy to pick up the pieces if it went wrong. Big smile back, obviously. I think he secretly wanted it to go wrong, just for the excitement. I know how that feels, but have to take a slightly higher ground in my new ranking.

Cable ties on and up she went. Motion! Realising that in our excitement to get the boat moving again, we had attached the heavier sheets normally used for the yankee, which are a bit over-spec for the lighter-weight sail, Henry eagerly shimmied up the existing sheet to swap them out in-situ, otherwise we’d have had to take the whole sail down again. We’re not racing, but we all like to make the boat go fast, and it’s nice to go about things with a sense of resolve. Maybe we should go racing…

‘The Moris’, now renamed the Belgium Flu, is still going around the boat, with various sniffles and coughs heard from most directions. I have prescribed a boat-wide dose of ‘harden up’, and hope it has immediate effect. No time for getting ill on boats, gets in the way of all the productive activities we could otherwise be undertaking.

Such as putting Paul up the rig for the first time. As our designated ‘media man’ the lure of eagle eye footage has had him in its grasp for some time, and this afternoon provided good conditions for such an opportunity. Harnessed, helmeted, attached, and attached again (don’t worry Paul’s mum, we were very attentive to making sure he was properly attached!), up he went. For a scrawny Frenchman he sure felt heavy as we worked the winches to hoist him up high. Paul spent a good 20 minutes or so taking footage from above and generally enjoying the view, which is, without contention, the best on the boat. All cameras deployed and depleted, he was gently lowered back to the deck, where he declared the view ‘amazing!’ but the experience exhausting.

As Paul’s mast climbing endeavours completed, the wind had started to fill in, and the apparent wind rating of the genoa cable ties were once again tested past my comfort zone (regardless of the potential excitement for Henry trying to lower a sail attached by 3 points, rather than its customary 21). An hour of sail changes, hoists, flaking, bagging, sorting and tidying followed, while Alex did an extended stint on the helm, holding a steady course for our Canaries waypoint, as the boat depowered, powered up, and powered up some more as the sails swapped. Nothing like hard work to make the day go quickly.

As I write, we are making a tidy 8 kts bang on target, with 200 nm left to run. In slightly over 24 hours time we should be nosing our way into a marina in Las Palmas, ready for a quick turnaround, and heading out again. An ocean awaits.

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