I will always remember January the 26th. As it so happens, is also Australia Day, India Day, Rachel’s Birthday and would also be known as the day “shit hit the fan”.
Everything happened so quickly, I recall spending most of the morning ‘hugging’ the outskirts of Papau New Guinea (PNG) before tacking (turning the boat) to continue our voyage north in the afternoon, towards the Pacific Ocean and equator. Some of us had mixed emotions on this navigation decision, we had to consider the wind forecast, current patterns and best course (Velocity Made Good) to the finish line. It was hard to stomach for a handful of us as we knew that majority of the fleet were sailing on 270degree (West) while only 2-3 other yachts were heading dead north ahead of us.
The wind and sea state picked up significantly shortly after we left the little PNG islands beyond the horizon and was still manageable when I left to prepare dinner in the galley (kitchen). A little while later, one of my onions took a leap into the air as we hit an air pocket, bouncing around before finding its place under the oven. (no one has found the onion to date)
At that moment, shouts were heard from the fore-deck as the smashing over waves became more consistent. This of course drew the attention of the Skip, whom I saw pop his head out from the companionway for a peek. After a couple of minutes and two smokes later, I saw him scurrying back down, grabbing his life jacket and tether line before heading up again. Tether lines! (orange-coloured safety lines to attach us onto the yacht) him, with his reputation and seasoned sea-legs, actually getting tether lines. I was stunned into place thinking; “Shit just got real”
I quickly secured dinner before rushing up with my gear as well.
Here’s a summary of what happened in those short moments:
Main sail’s reefing lines and battens snapped, leaving it ineffective.
We had to drop the sail and hoist a try-sail to stabilise the boat.
We had to run new reefing lines through the main sail.
We had to fit new battens and restitch the batten pockets.
Progress was effectively slowed to snail-pace for the next 20 hours as we addressed these exciting events.
so tired from long hours spent fixing the mail sails with everyone.. going to sleep now. ta