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[ THE WIRE ] Skipper’s Report

6th January 2017
Time: 1500z
Position: 28°42.4N 015°04.4W
COG: 214°T
SOG: 8kts
Wind: SSE5
Swell: SE 3-5ft
Sky: 1/8 cirrus/cumulus
Weather: Good

I set the challenge that the first person to sight land was entitled to a frothy (this is Ty-speak for beer. Frothies feature hugely in Ty’s life it seems. “Frothy this”, “frothy that”, “where are the frothies?”).  I won myself a frothy when I finally spotted Gran Canaria first at around midday.

There are 35.59 nm left to run as I write this, and we have had a smashing night and day of sailing. The 8 kts of speed I last left you with only increased overnight, and the wind has built to a very respectable force 5. Better late than never. We ran slightly over-canvassed for the morning, ploughing ahead at an average of 10 kts, with a top speed of 11.5 kts – not bad for a boat going hard to wind. We chucked a reef in half way through the morning watch, and then decided we should change down the headsail. The boys went down below to get kitted up for a wet foredeck experience, and when I stuck my head down to see how they were getting on all I could see were 3 tired and slightly bedraggled men. I asked if they’d rather just leave the sail up and not do the change – 3 tired nods of accord. They were then dispatched to have a mid-watch snooze, while Connor and I had a great time driving a somewhat overpowered boat, with the main eased and running a bit off the wind to keep the power down. We’re paying for it now having gone too low on course and the wind heading us meaning we’re not going to make our waypoint on one tack. That will teach me for being soft…

The inescapable sail change (they are always inevitable) happened at watch change, with members of the fresh oncoming watch bolstering numbers up front. A fairly slick operation soon saw us powered up again, but we are still leant right over hard on the wind, with the starboard rail mostly submerged. My nav station is tucked away on the starboard mid-ships just down the stairs up to the deck, and as I sit on the wall writing this, waves wash past the window to my right.

We had a good lesson in winch use earlier, when there was a little incident involving a very powered up sheet and not enough turns on the winch. The winch had been loaded in lighter airs, but now we are fully powered up the amount of force on the line is significantly more. When the sheet was taken in hand to be adjusted, the required friction just wasn’t there, and all I could hear from below was the skipper-chilling noise of 80 ft of line running off the winch in a heartbeat. My fresh coffee headed to the floor as I bolted for the deck to check there wasn’t anyone gone with it, but luckily the numerous winch briefings had sunk in well, and as soon as the line started to run out of control it was dropped. We got it all back under control, and I reiterated how the loads involved in a boat of this size are a real step up from a smaller and less heavy duty cruising yacht. It was also reinforced that I would happily watch a sail flog itself to pieces, as long as the people on deck were OK. Crew first, boat second.

Gran Canaria grows closer up ahead, and in a matter of hours the sails will be down, and we will be nudging our way into a cozy berth, ready to celebrate Lea’s birthday in style! I’m cutting it a bit fine on my promise to have proper birthday drinks for her, but I think it should be fine. A good sleep will follow, ready for the usual hustle and bustle of a brisk stopover.

I’ll leave it there for this leg. We’ve all had a blast, everyone has learnt a huge amount about the boat and sailing her, and we’re all geared up for the next push across the Atlantic. Big thanks to Weather Routing International for their regular forecasts and guidance throughout, helping us safely and efficiently undertake our first passage.

Roll on Atlantic.

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