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We Did it Again

Yep we did it again ,we broke something. This time we’re hoisting a Yankee think it was the 3. Sometimes you think it’s the downhaul(only present for the Y3) causing difficulty. So instead of thinking why is it difficult, we put 4 beefy guys on the geinders. So I recall being 4th to the grinders and hearing this almighty bang and see the mainsail coming down. My heart sinks through my stomach into my boots. We have worked so hard to vlaw our way back up the fleet and now we are going to be slowing down ,yet again.I  think more problems occur when there are more on deck.  This was around watch change and there were 11 on deck. Noone recognized what was happening,none including the skipper ,aqp and both watch leaders. Someone has to be stepping back. Too much noise too much haste. The aft grinder was engaged on both the yankee halyard and the mainsheet. That’s why it was difficult. As the pressure on the boom and sail increased and inthis case the halyard snapped and down came the mainsail. Also as we discovered later in port the metal plate on the mainsheet winch was so bent it had to be replaced. The whole crew broke the main halyard. 
We send Mary up the mast to drop a weight attached to a string so we can thread a new halyard.Once that’s done we flake the yankee 1 and yankee 2 which for some reason are not organised then finally hoist the yankee 3.

And now we are finally surfing under white sails ,On the helm I  crank out 
3 x 20 knots plus surfs in quick succession. Yes this what we came for  28 to 40 knot winds and big seas . Let’s  catch the fleet again. 

ongoing surfing conditions with the low pushing us ,25 to 40knots ,6 metre seas ,mutiple surfs at over 20 knots ,avg speeds 12 to 13  this morning .Mike said we’ll gybe after this black cloud paases then.

The winds drops and …

It snowed.

It’s watch change.  

The rest of my watch dissappear rapidly below. 
I  help with the gybe… in the snow!
A week must have gone by , now am on mother watch again ,this time pesto pasta bewad and some beef thing for dinner.

It’s Cold!!

all of April 4 we make up lots of ground that has been lost on a long starboard tack.  ,later that night the steering very difficult the only light being  the luminescence of our wake and the breaking wave tops. In the dark at helm change I am in a tether tango with Dickie and at one point end up untethered and with a tehther either side of my legs while on the helm.
It is now very chilly now always 6 degrees or less plus the wind chill..
In morning we are greeted to a raging sea and wind ,2 to 4 metre waves 5 on occasions ,a double reefed main and staysail with  25 to 30 knots of wind. We are now  going East on port tack at the equivalent latitude of Melbourne. I,break out the drysuit .Multiple layers are required underneath to keep somewhat warm. My hands are always bloody cold.
hoist the  Yankee 3 but it  gets too spicy and it is dropped
the sun has made an appearance!!
look outside before dinner and tonight’s watch and it’s blue skies a rolling sea a single reefed main and staysail, still going  upwind on port ,one day the upwind will end.

The early morning watch come up and the Yankee 3 is up ,I go to look at trim and the top of sail is flapping but not the bottom. A small grind of the sheet and it makes no difference  On closer inspection the halyard is on the top spreader  and the top 2 hanks at least are broken.
We drop the sail and it is a mess. The yankee 2 is sitting in the sail locker after being repaired . We bring it up on deck and set it. The is an ongoing rolling swell and  light winds that eventually die out and the sun comes out,not something we commonly see out here.
Am on  mother watch ,again must be anew week ,but I go up help launch code 2 spinnaker ,nice to finally have it flying. ,The guitar comes later given the condition . The two main songs being Eagle Rock , and our theme song Adventure of a Lifetime. 

I  have no idea why inthe playlist of our 27 yo ,UK female AQP ,Mary is a hit from a 1971 , Melboune based band. 

That night lie in bed sleeping feeling and  listening to the downwind motion ,have we turned the corner on a fast track to Seattle.

after doing breakfast ,and finishing mother watch and go up helm for an hour and crack out  11 miles under kite.
We hit 14.5 during the lunchtime meeting.
The whole day is under kite for the other watch and it is dropped in the evening.
Now we are white sail reaching at night and  averaging 11 knots all along the rhumb line making up lots of ground.
eventually the wind comes ahead by evening . F me I thought this was it downhill to Seattle but not yet !! 1 reef ,2 reefs and then we are dropping the yankee 2 in 25 knots ,and it is a brute with the sail just sail pulling out of our hands but of course we do it.

Now it’s  reef 2 + staysail and eventually task is a COG but bear away to keep the  apparent wind at below 30 knots!!
It’s a long watch with only 2 of us ,yes me and Sir Clyde ,able to helm in the conditions and poor visibility.
it is bitterly cold. 
<span;>next watch put in r3
<span;>wake up to r2 and staysail 20 knots of breeze
 by the lunchtime meeting the next day we’re in 13 knots and are back under full main and the Yankee 2. 

That night we are beam reaching ,maybe the wind is finally going to turn behind. There are times I am on deck and the watch says ‘ ohh Rick’s playing with the sails again’. Now I used to take it as an insult until one day later in the race Mary said to me ‘ Rick ,it’s not a bad thing !!’ So this was a night like that. I went to the bow and looked at the headsails , It can be difficult in the dark to know if they are correctly trimmed as the tell tales on the leeward(back) side of the sail are hard to see. So I get the crew to let the sail out until it flaps a bit then bring it back in. Most people over trim the sails . The first ease of the big yankee headsail ,if so(if it is overtrimmed) ,is usually accompanied by a sensation of the boat accelerating. I come back to the stern ,Mike(skipper) is on deck ,says ‘Rick ,we’ve just gained knot of boat speed. 

Now I have to make mention of Barry (and his assistant Colin from theother watch) . Barry spent basically a whole day of watches in the sail locker at this point repairing headsails. Without Barry ,Sanya would never have made it to Seattle the way we did.

April ,Repair ,Repair.

We continue to bash our way upwind off Japan. This continued till more than 2 weeks into the race when the breeze turn behind us. April 1 ,I awoke to a new motion feeling like the wind had dropped and we were going downwind. Actually the boat was going slowly downwind under staysail alone with the boom lashed to the deck to make repairs on the mainsail. The scene was remininiscent of footage I’d seen of crippled yachts limping into Eden during Sydney-Hobarts. Unfortunately this was going to become a common theme for this race. I was asked to come off mother watch to steer while repairs done. The initial task was simply to keep the boat on a flat comfortable heading in 40 plus knot wind and building seas. While repairs were done which was mainly damage to a batten and the associated sail that occurred while reefing the previous night. This was of course in a direction at right angles to where we wished to go. Eventually we re hoisted the main and made our way back up wind in 35+ knots ,3 to 5 metres and driving spray and rain. Fun Hey ! When the AQP took the helm 2 hours later within 5 minutes she commented how the f. did you do that for so long.The yankee 3 went up for a short but with the increasing sea it did not confer much advantage and we continued under reefed main and staysail.

 The next night watch we make good progress upwind still.

And then….

Broken Stay
Deck crack.

A stay below deck breaks off the Backing plate that provides countertraction to the halyards on the starboard side.The deck which supports it has also cracked. We have to drop all sails and go downind under bare poles which is in a south westerly direction exactly opposite to where we need to go.A jury repair creating a Spanish windlass out dyneema using a spanner tighten it is effected. We are  trailing warps to slow the  yacht but with wind gusting at over 40 knots we are still travelling at 4 to 5 knots in the wrong direction all day. 

the repair

Finally we effect the jury thanks to our skipper and several of our engineer types on board ,including Fred our naval architect ,and of course our rope wizard bosun Carl,and bit of advice from the maintenance team. We thought at one stage we may have to pull in to Japan. It’s back upwind though slightly freer and and doing more than 40 miles in a 4 hour watch and finally back past the island of Hachiojima behind which we had earlier sheltered.

Bit it’s  getting colder and colder.

March 29 ,Chasing the Dragon

We continue on starboard tack  parallel with Japan in the north going current.
Y2 and full main but gets a bit spicy and we reef. We continue to get lifted around ,all night.  Qingdao appears on the AIS,by watch end we are only 2.2 miles behind Qingdao and putting time into Halong Bay.

We Spend all next morning chasing Qingdao and finally get past  as the wind becomes fickle by lunchtime. Of course qingdao have been our friends and nemesis in this race since we left london. So having this time where we are simply sailing faster is encouraging to the crew.



Unfortunately later on watch the Yankee 1 tears on a  spreader ,The yankee 2 already needs repairing ,The yankee 3 goes up ,Qingdao go by.
such is yacht racing. Later in this race Qingdao had the deck start to delaminate under the running backstay and put into Japan for repairs. As I  write in my covid isolation the fleet having already left Seattle,Qingdao are still out there but heading for San Francisco. 
A frustrating night of light winds followed and a  and dark night with difficult steering.
at my turn on the helm we are completely engulfed by a black cloud that results in a 100 degree windshift. somehow I follow it and we tack over onto a favorable course
The nights during this race become a familiar pattern ,full cloud no stars and the moon only occasionally. And often for us on this leg No Instruments !

Am then on mother watch.The bought bread has run out so we do the first lot of bread baking.