Wednesday 7th  -  The Final Operation

Back up on watch at 2am we actually spent a couple of hours up on deck doing some helming and trying to remember what it was like to sail!  The winds were still very intermittent for us – the air was hot and humid and night watch attire was the same as day attire – shorts, t-shirts and either crocs, flip-flops or bare feet!
By 4am we were back in “theatre” to re-insert the leech line through the edge of the tape. It took 3 of us nearly two hours to gradually feed the 50ft line through the small gap in the edge of the tape – it was hot, sweaty work but very satisfying and by the time we had finished phase 2 of the operation we knew that our sail was looking like it was going to make a full recovery.

The next phase was to reinforce the patch with machine stitching on each side of the repair. This was the bit we were worried about due to the numbers of layers of fabric involved and the track record of the machine with only 3 layers!  However we were on a roll now.  We were optimistic, confident and already planning our future joint business together - “Parsons & Chums Sail Repairers”.  With the machine revved up we made a start and 2 and a half hours later after coaxing, cajoling and persuading the fabric through – while trying to see through the sweat running literally from top to toe off all three of us – we were finally able to declare that the patient would live to sail another day!  Paul this time was volunteered to finish the tiny but tough bit of hand stitching. It was finally complete and with so much patching and reinforcing we declared her the “6 million Dollar Dacronic Sail”.  Ok, maybe we hadn't managed to fit x-ray vision but we were sure this sail was now as tough as nails! By 8pm that evening Piers the skipper gave the instruction to hoist the heavyweight!

It was nearly 9pm by the time it was up and flying and Big Mike and I sat like nervous parents while we watched and waited to see if all our efforts had worked and that the repair was holding.  It did. We grinned, hoorahed, patted ourselves firmly on the back and sloped off to our bunks completely exhausted.