White Ocean Racing

Reports 16 November

16 November - Blog 3 - Night work whilst becalmed.

We've had a shocker of a night, somebody turned the wind off! Sailing in light airs drives most people mad as the boat rolls in the swell and the sails slat from side to side and you go nowhere fast. I have not been idle though, I went through to the bow of the boat inside all of the watertight compartments - we had taken lots off deck fittings to try and stop some of the leaks, so I went to check how much water was in there, and luckily it appeared to have beeen a largely successful operation as it was pretty dry - result!

I tidied the sail locker up as well because that was in chaos, lashed down one of the two anchors, which had escaped and done some minor damage to the ballast tank, and lashed down the emergency rudder, which was a fairy interesting exercise, it is like an eight foot long scimitar and consequently a difficult thing to hold still, but it is firmly held in place now. We are far enough south now so that it is too hot to work below decks during the day so working at night is a good option - it is still pretty warm at night though, I didn't put a shirt on until 0500 this morning! My apologies to those of you at home, I know it's freezing in England, Kim had to buy the boys electric blankets!

I had to take the spinnaker down for a while to do some work on the end of the bowsprit, we wheren't moving very much anyway, so I figured then was as good a time as any. We had a new arrangement for the bit of string that holds the spinnakers out at the end of the bowsprit using a stainless steel ring for the rope to pass through rather than a nice block, and the ring was hacking it's way through my nice new piece of string! I got into the bosun's chair, put on a headtorch and hauled myself out to the end of the bowsprit and started sorting things out. It was flat calm by this point, and I was engrossed in what I as doing, with my backside two feet above the water so you can imagine my surprise when a dolphin surfaced to breathe right underneath me - I could have touched him, and I was close enough to get a good blast of his breath! I nearly jumped out of my skin I can tell you. He was about five or six feet long I suppose, although he seemed about thirty when I saw him first! He wasn't at all afraid, just curious. Wherever you sail, the groups of dolphins seem to have different characters, sometimes they stay and play, sometimes they don't, sometimes they just cross your path and don't stop at all like they're really on a mission, but these ones are still here some hours later.

As I finished, the sun came up which often seems to kickstart the wind, but as we had no sail up at the front, and were stationary, the dolphins swam back and forth in all directions, turned on their side so they could get a good look at me standing on deck. It's always interesting to be studied like that by an animal, I wonder what they were thinking?

We are up and running again nicely now, and the breeze is getting less fickle. I am realy anxious not to lose touch with the boats immediately infront of me, so I need to keep down time to a minimum, but I do have to get the main sail down at some point today to do some work on that - all products of a rushed preparation!

Anyway, first things first; porridge time, then a short nap!

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