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Friday, November 23, 2007

A Day in the Life - Part 2

15:00UTC 23/11/07 17'14N 033'43W Wind E4

More good progress, another 148 miles noon to noon. And 103 pages of my book. Some sleep, still fighting with the rolling but improving. We changed our clocks today, back one hour to cope with the changing times of sunset and sunrise. Communications and navigation is still done by UTC (or GMT, as us traditionalists will have it.) but watches run on local time.

Below, another installment of a day in the life, taking you back to Wednesday.

All's well. Nick.

'A day in the life of Ty Dewi - Wed 21 Nov 2007 - Part 2'
As coffee is made the remainder of the crew stir and stagger out of their bunks. We sit in the cockpit, enjoying daybreak - the sun doesn't rise till 8:30 - and sipping our coffee. We talk about the plan for fixing the steering and changing sail.

Coffee finished, we heave to. This is a very useful technique, where you tack the boat, putting her nose through the wind - but don't release the headsail. It lies against the inner forestay, trying to push the nose down to leeward. Meanwhile the mainsail and rudder try to push her up to windward and, with these forces balanced, the boat jogs along at about 1kt gently riding the waves. It's very stable and comfortable, useful for doing tasks like repairs or cooking in heavy weather.

We put the engine on gently and drop the mainsail. The batteries need to be charged, and the engine replaces the balance of the main as we pack it away. The sail is quickly dropped, folded and the cover put on. We probably won't use it again for days. Whilst we're at it, I pull the staysail cover out of the forecabin and we put that on too, so our unused sails are protected from the ultraviolet rays that slowly destroy sailcloth. With the boat still hove too and stable, we have breakfast.

The next job is the steering, so I dig out the tools and hydraulic fluid. The top up point is on top of the steering pedestal, but to get at it we remove a wooden plate which holds the main steering compass. This is a delicate instrument so we carefully remove the holding screws, slide it back a few inches and disconnect the wires for the compass light. That done, the compass is laid carefully on a cushion out of the way. We remove the plug on the steering pump and can plainly see the fluid level well down on where it should be. Good, looks like the diagnosis is correct. One of the fluid bottles has a pipe that screws on the top, making it easy to squeeze the fluid into the pump. We empty it of the few milliliters in there, then Dave and Ed top the bottle up from another full container, via a funnel. A roll of the boat predictably tips fluid over the swearing pair, but it's easily mopped up.

We finish topping up the pump, work the wheel and autopilot a few times to get the air bubbles out and put it all back together again. Time to raise the second headsail. This sail is hoisted in a groove on a 'furler', which is a roller that swivels to roll the whole sail up around it, thus reducing the area as the wind gets stronger. The crew is now used to this procedure, so we work quickly and smoothly in our tasks. We come out of hove to by releasing the jib sheet and steering us at ninety degrees to the wind. It's fast and stable for this job. Clipping my harness on, I take up position on the plunging bow, ready to feed the new sail into it's groove. Ian and Ed take the sail from it's bag, tie on the sheets and halyard and feed it to me. Ian pulls on the halyard and the sail slides easily up the rig. Dave manages lines back in the cockpit. Tying off the halyard and the strop at the bottom, we can furl the two sails together a bit before rigging the poles.

Each sail has a five metre pole that holds it out from the side of the mast and stops it flapping as we sail with the wind behind us. Ed controls the lines that hoist the pole upwards, and I clip it to the jib sheet. As Dave and Ian in the cockpit give us slack or tension on the sheets, we lift the pole four metres off the deck and tension everything up. Moving to the other side, we do the same for the second sail and now we have two little triangles of cloth, held by the poles, pushing us forward at full speed.

The whole manouvre only takes 10 minutes, and as we return to the cockpit and get on our way, Dad says 'nice seamanship' to me. That comment is all the praise I need.

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