Tuesday 6th October – Albert's Birthday

After the previous day's escapade I was looking forward to a long sleep.  One of the perks of being on mother watch is that you get a long night’s sleep either before or after your watch.  Mine was before.  The downside to this was that it was far too hot to sleep properly and I was also conscious I needed to be up extra early to get all the plans for Albert's (Alison – now known as Albert) Birthday in place.

I hadn't banked on waking up at 1.30am as if I was getting up for my usual night-watch.  I really hadn't banked on then seeing the Heavyweight spinnaker piled in the saloon with a note pinned to it addressed to the sail repair team!  Our collective hearts sank....and then sank about 10 feet lower as we started to discover the extent of the damage! 

After 3 hours of unravelling the sail to survey the damage and talking to the guys on watch to find out what had happened, the three of us came to the conclusion this was unrepairable – especially when I declared that we must be missing two thirds of the snapped Leech line (line that runs through the edge of the sail to help tension it). It really was in a sorry state with the edge tape also being ripped in two and all but the last 4 feet of the 50 foot edge of the sail, being either ripped or ripped out of the edging tape.

Meanwhile everyone's watches had been moved around. Tom had been wheeled in to be 'Mother' in my place so I could concentrate on the sail and the other watch were getting up for odd hours to cover for the fact that the three of us “Repairers” were on the same watch – which left the on deck team somewhat short-handed.
At 5.30 I realised we hadn't set up the Birthday celebration bits so was busy getting people to hide clues as Albert appeared on deck – earlier than expected  - to help out.  Rather than a load of Happy Birthday greetings the poor girl was told off for being up early, as we attempted to usher her back to her bunk!

Back in the Sail Repair Mission Control (the saloon) Mike R was in a glum mood and the first to declare it unrepairable.  Whatever either Mike B or I suggested wasn't going to work as far as he was concerned; we wouldn't fix the leech line, the machine wouldn't be able to get through the layers of fabric on the edge and even if it did, there's no way the repair would hold! Mike B and I could put up no argument other than suggest we request contact with Hyde Sails once the office was open to ask for some advice. 

Mike B went on deck to look for the missing leech line and found it wrapped high around the spreaders where the sail had become caught and ripped.  Nigel from the next watch-on promised to go up and fetch it while we caught up on a couple of hours sleep and waited for a response from the professionals!

After a Birthday Breakfast for Albert and a couple of hours nap, we woke up to find Big Mike had changed from Mr Pessimism into Jimmy Saville (Mr Fix-it!)  The sleep had revived him and once we saw the steely look in his eye we knew we on for a long day of repairing!

The three of us spent all morning bent over 'the Patient' - as I was now referring to the sail, while we applied Dacron 'stitches' to check that we had the edges laid out correctly and wouldn't be left with an excess of either material when we got to the end.  Once happy we had it right, we proceeded to 'transplant' the Dacron to the repair while I made helpful heart-rate monitor beeping noises – with the occasional flat-line tone declaring at that point that we'd have to “shock the patient Doctor!”  Luckily we only had two cardiac arrests during the operation … had there been a third I think both Mikes might have thrown me over-board!  It kept our spirits up though and by the evening the patching phase had been done and I was able to declare to the rest of the crew that the patient, while still in intensive care, was now stable - although the next 24 hours would be critical!

With the missing leech line now retrieved, we enlisted Ollie to whip and sew the two parts together and add an additional length to the end – as we weren't quite sure how much had been 'lost' in the drama. We left him to his whipping while we went to grab some sleep before our 2am watch.