Mother duties and kite wraps

My third week has seen increasing wind strength while sailing in the Northern Pacific Ocean causing the very warm water to splash over deck soaking our t-shirts and shorts!! On Wednesday we had a delayed visit of King Neptune while still coping with the leakage of diesel fuel and on Friday we wrapped the big spinnaker around the forestay and we could not get it down while the wind strength kept increasing.

We are still on a north westerly course towards the north of the Phillipines. It is bumpy and we have been on a port tack for more than two days. There have been squeals with tremendous down-poor of rain making the sea look white of splashing water. It also means putting reefs in the mainsail and “shaking” them out as often as two to three times per watch. On Wednesday all the Pollywogs had to present themselves to the visiting King Neptune for the equator line crossing ceremony. He was helped by his trusted helpers the Shellbacks. A trick or skill had to be performed which seldom pleased King Neptune enough to not demand the Pollywogs to endure the forefeit. The forefeit often consist of a concoction of any left over food, chillies, pepper etc. Anything that they can find in the galley could be used as an ingredient. However the concoction we were presented with was spicy but quite tasty for some of us!!

My mother watch this week was more challenging as the boat was at a steep incline and bumping along over the waves. On mother watch we prepare the four meals, make yoghurt, two loaves of bread and a cake. All while holding on with one hand or heavily leaning against the galley top. It all seems to take an extraordinary amount of effort. It is still very hot, very sweaty and smelly. Changing clothing seem to be pointless as fresh cloths get wet and smelly in hours if not minutes. People are now getting out of their bunk to go to the heads (toilet) or to the galley in their underwear. Not bothering to dress up anymore than strictly necessary. Everything takes effort and we are doing only the necessary things so not to sweat too much.

We have changed the watch system back from tropical to normal. That means that the six hour watches are now during the day again. Having the six hour watches during the night when it is cooler means a better long sleep and during the very hot day when the sun is beating down on the deck it is better to have shorted four hour watches. The clock is also put back as the time in Vietnam is still two hours behind our boat time.

On Thursday we started to fly the kite (spinnaker). Because of the strong winds we hoisted the thicker Code 3 spinnaker and started clocking 20 knots and surfing down the ocean waves. Steering and keeping the boat on course to avoid the spinnaker from collapsing was getting more and more difficult. My Starboard watch took over at 18:00 while it was getting darker. By the time it was my time for an hour of helming it was dark. It was so dark that we could not see an horizon, moon or any stars. That means no reference points to see or feel whether the boat is turning. Conditions were getting desperate. And then the boat moved sharp starboard as it surfed down a large wave. The spinnaker collapsed, we turned the boat, possibly to far, and the sail got sucked behind the large main sail causing it to wrap around the fore stays. A typical disastrous kite-wrap.

Three independent sections of the sail were wrapped around the forestay making it impossible to lower the sail onto deck. After some deliberation and the approaching front with strong winds it was decided to hoist one of our crew to cut the sail free. So that is how we ended up with a spinnaker sail in two parts

So this has been another week full of events and difficult conditions because of the heat and now the strong winds. What will next week bring?