Sat 7th & Sunday 8th – Race 3 Days 12 & 13

After Friday's events we could have all have done with an easier days sailing. However the wind and the sea were not concerned with our issues and continued to blow and peak and trough their hearts out.

All the crew got on with the job in hand on deck but when below decks the previous days drama was replayed and discussed with each person adding their own detail until the whole picture was clear. I don't mind admitting that I was pretty anxious about my night watch at 2am on Saturday. The conditions were very rough and the darkness of a cloudy night would make it harder to read and anticipate the waves. Having seen how easily Arthur was caught out and swept away I had an appreciation of how it could so easily happen again and a renewed awe and respect for the sea.
There was some comfort on deck though. I arrived to witness my first 'moonbow' – a perfect arc of bright light in the sky, just off the stern of the boat – the night equivalent of a rainbow. As if that wasn't enough I had my first gaze on the Southern Cross constellation, which seemed to be shining out reassurance to us, that all was well. I found it both stunning and comforting and stepped up to the helm just as a squall was approaching with my confidence ninety per cent restored. The squall seemed determined to dent that and threw huge gust followed by huge wave at me. One massive wave nearly took me off my feet but a quick helping hand from Piers on the helm was a stabiliser and after that stubbornness kicked in, I got a firm grip of the wheel and myself and left the worries created by yesterdays events whirling in the wake far behind me.

One slight draw back to our race plan was that we now had no wind instruments.  We had just got used to making use of all the information about wind strength, direction both true and apparent and monitoring it carefully to make sure we were prompt with adjusting course or sails to suit.  However a flaying halyard had taken the instruments at the top of the mast out and we were now relying on feeling the wind on our faces and using the speed and heel of the boat as our indicators for changes.

We had some big squalls over the weekend, which made sleeping hard and everything difficult. It also kept everyone's nerves on edge a bit – although no-one would admit it.  By Sunday we were ready to hoist our heavyweight spinnaker to try and increase our speed and claw our way back up the field.  We've gone from first to third and Finland look like they are about to push us back down in to fourth place any day now.  Having led for so long this is hard to take, but after everything that has happened we are not pushing as hard as we were.
So we got everything ready for the spinny hoist until big Mike stuck his head above deck and mentioned that it had a rip that needed repairing! So once again Mike B and I were condemned to the saloon with rolls of Dacron, the sewing machine and our poorly spinnaker. We kept our spirits up by making sure that Jeremy – who had also settled in the saloon to read his book – never got past a paragraph.  JR had an annoying habit of talking (wittering) at you when you were trying to concentrate on something so we amused ourselves with a little of our own back and took turns to ask him inane questions about either his book or his life. Poor Jez gave up after an hour and went on deck!  I realised that spinnaker repairs bring out the worst in me!!!  Despite our evil distractions, we fixed the sail and by the end of Sunday it was flying!