We have been stuck in this wind-hole since the morning. Hopefully our “luck” changes and the 12-18 knots predicted for the evening materialises, else we are “screwed” big time.
The past couple of days have been a cat and mouse chase between Team Garmin and Invest Africa. It was quite a surprise when we learnt of Team Garmin overtaking Invest Africa, putting Team Garmin 118nm ahead of us, half a day’s sail.
Two more days of racing left, much can happen if we get favourable winds to accompany our favourable current.
Below was my crew diary entry for the official clipper race site during Race 8:
What an eventful week it has been!
Apart from our reefing lines snapping and headsail in the water, I experienced my first “all-hands-on-deck” situation on Thursday.
It came as a shout from Rachel at half past nine in the morning and everyone from my (off) watch scrambled on deck.
With my well-known reputation of sleeping till the last minute, I was first on deck after a quick slip into my shorts and life jacket. Definitely a result of two years in the Singapore Army.
As the glaring sun heated my face, I saw on the starboard side the clew of our lightweight spinnaker dangling in the air, completely ripped off like a corner of a book.
An hour or so later and ‘new’ spinnaker up, we were off sailing again.
The past two days have also been more emotional for me as it is Chinese (Lunar) New Year (CNY), this is the first time in my life where I am not spending CNY at home. Missing the warm atmosphere (and comfy bed) back home where all of my relatives would gather at my place for a reunion dinner followed by a day of festivity cheer, games and more food the next day.
In a desperate attempt to curb my homesickness yesterday, I rummaged through my secret stash of sweets and attacked all the orange-flavoured ones to get a taste of CNY (it is tradition to exchange mandarin oranges as greetings to our elders).
Life on board has taken a lighter note as well, singing songs and making up lyrics. It gets amusing and painful at times when someone (you know who you are) always sings out of tune but sings loudly and confidently anyway.
Great news! We are now eleventh place in the latest race standings! Which is truly remarkable if you take into account that we left close to 24 hours after the fleet. That aside, we should be passing north of Palau soon and making our way to the first finish mark.
Can’t wait to arrive in Singapore, my home. Unshaven KC out.
Kong Chian Toh (KC)
Click here to read from the official clipper race site.
31st Jan, the 1st day of Chinese New Year. Relatives streaming into my place back home, dressed in bright cheerful colours and digging into the seasonal treats. Mandarin oranges, Popiah, Bee Hoon noodles, fried snacks, Love Letters biscuits, chicken curry; all these were lacking on board and I had to make do with what I had.
So in my desperate attempt to get a taste of home, I dug out a personal stash of fruity flavoured All Natural gummies! Without hesitation, I attacked all the orange flavoured ones which was the closest taste I could get to the CNY mood.
KC out. craving for some popiah and mahjong now!!!
Following up from Day 18 where we received our summons to King Neptune’s court, today we polliwogs underwent a “baptism” proceeding to turn into shellbacks.
This “baptism” ceremony takes place after crews cross the equator by sea and is basically a tekan session. Polliwogs took turns to be showered in some weird concoctions (bilge water, butter beans, peas and some other stuff that made it look murky) and get flour thrown in the face. This is stark improvement from the previous equatorial crossing where the guys had to kiss a flying fish dangling off a pole.
Before nightfall, I “paid my toll” by tossing a gold coin into the sea as the tales goes.
KC out. heading to sleep. it has been a long, tiring and dirty day.
Experienced my first “All Hands On Deck” moment today. It started with Rachel’s shouting “All Hands! Sail in the water!” at roughly 9 in the morning, immediately everyone from my watch scrambled on deck. With a quick slip into my shorts and fastening my life jacket on my way up, I was first on deck to respond to the call. Quite amusing as I was almost always the latest up during normal watch. I do like my sleep very much and would like to sleep to the last minute, frowning at anyone who chooses to nudge me early.
As I emerged on deck, something flapping vigorously on the left caught my eye. The clew of our spinnaker got torn off completely from the rest of the sail and I had to jump on the hood to retrieve the clew and the rest of the sail. As well as prepping another spinnaker to be hoisted immediately after and functioning as the human sail-tie, meant my job was to hug the sail and control its ascent, preventing it from opening too soon. Soon after these tasks were done, it is back to a quick hour nap before coming on watch again.
We took turns spending the next two nights being crammed up near the sail locker, breaking many needles as we attempted to patch up the torn sail. It was a long and tedious process, learning the art of sewing on a boat, and struggling to keep our meals in.
As the sun approached the horizon, I realized that it was Reunion Dinner back home. Reunion Dinner takes place the day before Chinese Lunar New Year (CNY) where the whole family gathers for a meal together, pretty much a Thanksgiving dinner. The thought of missing CNY didn’t affect me months ago but now that the moment is here, I had realised that this is my first CNY away from home. Got to admit that I was overwhelmed by a sinking feeling as I dug into my night chow.
Finally our first breather since 26th Jan (Read Day 15). You can’t begin to imagine how thankful some of us were. The wind strength dropped quite a bit this morning which in turn translates to less heel, the bane of everyone’s life on board. It was a welcomed respite for everyone to regain some calm in our lives. And since wind strength dropped, it was standard protocol to switch away the Yankee 2 (a stronger sail for harsher winds) for the Yankee 1 (typically suited for lighter winds).
I can’t remember why we took an hour and a half to flake and stow away our Yankee 2, it must have been the scorching heat that made everyone move so lethargically.
The ‘Asians’ made an interesting observation (while in the shade) about our boat, we would typically go for the shade when the sun is out while the ‘English’ sat under the scorching sun to get burnt. Crazy.
Having the sun out also meant we could sun-dry our dirty clothing before packing them away, helps rid of that damp smell that has been lingering the bunks. Even after weeks, it still disgusts me when I brush against someone else’s damp and dirty hanging clothing.
On another note, a representative of King Neptune’s paid us a visit today, summoning us polliwogs to present ourselves at His Majesty’s court tomorrow. Our trial and tests awaits…
KC signing out. thankful that the heeling took a break..
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.
KC out so tired from long hours spent fixing the mail sails with everyone.. going to sleep now. ta