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[ THE WIRE ] Torn sails and storm sails

“What are you doing?”
“Just waiting for something to break”.

It’s been quite the 24 hours here on Disco. I’m even inclined to go as far as describing it as ‘dramatic’. The weather conditions have been continually deteriorating, and we’re well and truly back in a world where I sleep curled up next to the nav station, just waiting… Henry asked me yesterday evening what I was doing just sitting there, looking at the wall, and I replied that I was just waiting for something to break. Sometimes you just know, and these are the kind of conditions that breaks stuff, whatever you do.

It didn’t take long, before the reports came down from deck. Ty’s iPod has finally broken. This is an iPod that has seen him travel from Australia to our current location purely by sailing, hitch hiking, motorbike, or other random land based transport. Not an aeroplane to be had in nearly 3 years. Quite the trip, and one to which an iPod full of good tunes is essential. He’s still got one, it just doesn’t work any more.

We also ripped the mainsail in half. Maybe I should have opened with that.

Ty (him again) was on deck, I was snoozing/waiting, when I heard him shouting for me. I stuck my head up the hatch and realised I could see stars through where there was meant to be quite a large bit of sail. Not good…

It’s the sort of situation which would normally warrant a call for all hands on deck, but when the only other two people available are already looking at you, it seems like an unnecessary formality. One of the team is a bit under the weather at the moment, so it’s essentially 4 of us. In fact our man down was sleeping so soundly, come the morning they hadn’t evening realised anything had happened.

So up we pile, to see a tear in the mainsail. Not just any tear. This was a full blown, comprehensive ‘ripped the sail literally in half’ occasion. A seam had blown the entire way across it, leaving a lot of shredded and uncontrolled canvas. We hove-to in order to assess the situation, which is always easier when not slamming off waves at 6kts, and decided that the area above reef 2 looked like it wouldn’t be affected by the damage. One rather determined reefing evolution later we had the main back under control and tidied up the damage. It was then noticed that the Yankee 2 which was still hanked and tied up on the foredeck was becoming damaged by the sheer volume of water crashing over the bows, so a McCann/Scott salvage party was arranged, dispatched forward, and another untamed sail once again graced the inside of the boat.

We’ve been reduced to running 2 hour solo helming sessions round the clock in order to facilitate any usable level of sleep, and using the engine revs to wake the next person up. In this fashion, an exhausting night of helming saw the sea state go from rough to very rough, with the boat launching herself of the backs of many, slamming down on the other side. I’ve never seen so much water come over the front of a boat as in the last 48 hours, and I’m not at all surprised that a considerable quantity of it is making its way down below as well. By daylight this had got bad enough that we needed to further reduce sail to prevent impact related damage to the boat, so third reef was in, and the storm staysail was revealed to the Pacific Ocean, courtesy of a Dowling/Scott team, providing a happy orange demeanour to the foredeck for the first time since smashing down the coast of Portugal.

We are continuing to smash on through, doing everything we can to make our way towards San Diego, but it’s proving quite the challenge. To add to this, our LPG system has thrown its toys out of the pram, so we’re now without that ability to cook. The remaining stock of freeze dried is being assessed, and this will dictate what quantity of our diet for the remainder of the trip it will fulfil, with the outstanding requirements being delivered by cold hydrated cous cous and tinned beans I suppose.

There had better be a massive pizza waiting when we arrive, and I mean the sort of pizza that doesn’t fit in a car pizza. The relevant people will know what that means. And beer. Lots of beer.


NAV STATION
Date: 23rd March 2017
Time: 1808z
Position: 24-54.7N 114-02.6W
COG: 045T
SOG: 5-6kts
Wind: NNW 6-7
Swell: Very rough NW 9-13ft
Sky: 2/8 cirrus

With the support of our partner Weather Routing Inc. 


 

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