White Ocean Racing

Reports 18 November

18 November - Blog 5 - Nude nightime dances!.

There is no shortage of things to write about today after last nights frenzied activities. I was snoozing in my bed when the boat began to broach - I was straight up, boots on and onto my feet, by way of pushing buttons on the autopilot to turn the boat away from the wind. Once on deck, I did the usual and eased the sails so that the boat will turn away from the wind again and the pilot can take charge, but nothing happened! We stayed with the bow into twenty knots of wind, with spinnaker, staysail and full main, and everything shaking and banging in an alarming fashion. The pilot refused to work!

I put the boat back on course by hand, and dashed below to turn on the backup pilot and instuments, which didn't work either! I nipped back down a couple of times before I realised it wasn't going to play so I set about getting the spinnaker and staysail down. The staysail just falls down if you undo the piece of string that holds it up, but I had to winch the snuffer sock down to silence the kite. After I had finished performing,I was lucky to have a spinnaker left at all - but I must have looked pretty funny up at the front wearing only my boots, covered in sweat one minute and seawater the next, dancing under the deck floodlights!

With things under control and the boat just drifting I got Mark the electrician out of bed - it was 2345 - and he diagnosed the problem after I had rolled around in the dirt under the chart table plugging things in and unplugging them for forty minutes, my old pilot hydraulic ram that drives the rudders had just said "enough" and that was that. It was the only one I have ever used in the two and a half years I have had the boat, so you can't complain really!

I was in the process of bolting the new ram in place when the phone rang. You don't get many calls at 1 AM in the morning; it was the unflappable Julian from the Race Organisation. "Hello" he said "You were going quite nicely, and now you're not. Do you have a problem?" I just remember swearing a lot, and he left me to get on with it. By 0300 we were up and running again though. It's a terrible feeling when you know that the people behind you are catching you up, and those infront are getting away as you roll around in the bilge with the soldering iron between your toes and the boat rolling like a pig towards Brazil at half a knot. Aaaargh!

I was pretty wired by this time, and I'd found a can of coke which didn't help, so I stayed up fixing things and watching the new pilot. I finally got the generator set up properly, cut off some sharp bolts in the sail locker and generaly tidied up, but everything is fine now, except I think I could do with a shower!

I might have a go at cutting my hair later, I look like a mop. I didn't get chance to have it done properly before I left. I'm not to worried about the outcome, it's got three months to grow back if I make a mess of it, which I'm sure I will. If you see me wearing a hat in any video footage you'll know why!

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