Madagascar to South africa – day 5
Posted by yachtcamomile
Camomile’s position at 10.00 Wednesday 19th October
Our 24 hour run to 10.00 this morning was 120 miles which is down again because we had about a knot and a half of adverse current against us.
It’s been quite a difficult 24 hours. We had a good morning sailing albeit a frustrating one because our boat speed was between 4 1/2 to 5 1/2kts but it felt like we were traveling more like 6 or 7kts. It was a trade off because we had to head south before the south easterlies strengthened in the evening when we could bear away but that had taken us into the area 20S 40E which, according to the OSCAR files, is right in the middle of the adverse current area. We could see where the good current was to the west of us but if we had headed west at that stage we would have been headed when we came round the coast into the south easterlies. It’s better to have the wind in the right direction and if you are lucky enough to get current too then great.
After my sleep in the afternoon I had a shower. Then Bill decided to have one too. I was sitting working at the chart table at 5.45 when I heard a light thump up above me. I had just decided to go and see what it was when I looked out of the starboard window to see the genoa coming down into the sea. I called for Bill to come quick and he came running out of the shower all covered in soap bubbles! The genoa halyard (rope that holds it up ) had broken at the top of the mast and was laying on the deck (The thump) and the genoa was in the water.
Bill and I struggled for about 10 minutes and managed to get our new 130% thick genoa out of the water and laying on the side deck, we weren’t going to lose it. Fortunately it was still attached to the foil swivel at the bottom of the fore-stay so hadn’t come off completely but the foil swivel should be at the top of the mast. A quick look at the end of the halyard and we could see that the splice had disintegrated, probably from sitting out in the sun all the time. This left us with a problem – Bill had to go up the mast to get a line down inside the mast so we could re-thread the halyard. It was getting dark and we had a forecast of 20kts for later so it had to be done quickly. I was due to talk to Tintin at 18.00 so I quickly called them and gave them our position so they were aware of the situation, they were 28 miles away but heading in our direction.
The main was still up and was left up to stabilise the boat. We thought about hoveing too but Bill thought that would make it too rolly in the seas we had. We both moved quickly and within 10 minutes Bill was climbing the mast steps with the spinnaker halyard attached to him as a safety line which I was in charge of.
The mast was like an upside down pendulum, although it didn’t swing around too far but Bill struggled to get to the top of our 60ft mast which was damp and slippery from sea spray. Bill had taken a thin line with a fishing weight attached to it up with him which he intended to drop down inside the mast, I pull it through and we could use that tied to the halyard to take it back up – the line got stuck and Bill couldn’t get it in or out; frustrating. I sent up a knife to him on another line but that got tangled to, we were both aware the sun had already gone down and the wind was already starting to build. Eventually (with a lot of swearing) he got things untangled and cut the line but he’ll have to go back up the mast when we get to Richards bay and sort it out. While up the mast Bill checked the alignment of the spinnaker halyard to see if it would do the job of the broken one. Fortunately it looked like it would so that was plan B. It took Bill about 20 minutes to get back down. I lowered him down slowly while he held on to the shrouds and tried to stop himself banging into any thing and injuring himself. A few muscles were pulled. Thankfully he got down safely but we still hadn’t got the sail back up. Bill returned to the fore-stay to attach the spinnaker halyard. With the force of the sail pulling on the swivel while it was in the water the swivel was jammed. Bill had to give it several big thumps to free it. Then it was my turn to be brave. To get the sail back up the foil someone had to be on the fore-deck feeding it into the foil while Bill winched the sail up from the cockpit. By now the wind had risen to about 15kts and it was almost dark. I put my life jacket and harness on and made my way to the fore-deck bearing in mind I had had a shower that afternoon with clean clothes on! I sat on the bow seat with the sea spraying up my back as Bill winched the sail up with his already aching arms while I threaded it into the foil with one hand and trying to hold on to the sail with the other hand. It was too strong for me and I couldn’t hold it. Bill shouted to just let it go and feed the sail so I did. It gradually lifted and the sail was flogging quite badly but another 5 minutes and it was up. Bill then winched in the reefing line to put the sail away while I cowered to stop from getting whipped by the sheets (ropes attached to the sail to pull it in and out). We had done it. The sail appeared to be working ok and once I was back in the cockpit we pulled it out and continued on our way. Later I asked Bill if he was scared and he said he was a bit worried. Our sons know what that means.
At 21.30 we reached our southerly waypoint and were able to bear away for a more comfortable ride. Bill set the boat on course then went below for a well deserved rest while I watched the most amazing moon rise. I was very jumpy on my watch. Every time the boat creaked or there was an odd thump, on would go the torch to see what I could see. Just after my 22.00 log reading I worked out we had just gone passed the half way point. We’ve completed 589 miles and we’ve got 585 to go. I celebrated with a piece of banana bread with treacle. All is now well on board.