The discovery today of bent brackets on the bow sprit has put a real dampener on the passage and our ability to make speed downwind. The assembly was definitely straight when replaced after the earlier repair, it must just have been excessive loads since then, probably with the second yankee in some squalls. The pictures are of how it was and how it is now:-
The questions we have to consider are: is the bow sprit likely to break if we use it, could it cause any irreparable damage to the surrounding structure if it does break and, can we get the brackets straightened and strengthened in the Caribbean – if so where? The World Cruising rally handbook suggests that there are two welding / stainless fabrication shops in Rodney Bay so that at least is a positive. In the mean-time we are travelling at a sedate pace under just a reefed mainsail while we take stock and review our options. There is still squall activity (I wonder if the rest of the fleet further north are suffering as much) and, having experienced how rapidly the onslaught can descend, it is prudent to go through the night with a reef although we are compromising our speed. Our last 24 hour run was only 121 miles which is the worst yet. There is no reason why we can’t pole out the primary yankee and run downwind goose-winged – not great but ok. Remaining south of the rhumb line, it is likely, as we approach the Caribbean and the winds (as predicted) go light, that we will have the wind over the starboard quarter. I think that flying the Parasailor in that situation (assuming no squall activity) will be ok as the loads on the guy and therefore the bow sprit will be more vertical and any lateral loads will be trying to correct the bend and not exacerbate it.
Taking a more positive attitude, the watermaker is keeping up with the demand (including regular showers you will be pleased to hear), we have food on board to beyond Christmas, there is only just over 1000 miles to go and having only used the engine (we last filled in Las Palmas) for a short period, we could motor all the way if we had to.
Yesterday’s fishing score was Hejira 0 North Atlantic 1, we only cast out once and almost immediately the rod bent to 75 degrees and the reel howled. However there were no vibrations on the line and it was impossible to reel in on maximum clutch .It seems likely that we snagged a raft of seaweed that has become increasingly visible. We tried double teaming with hand and reel but the line snapped. I have now opted for a much heavier weight on the line to try to keep below the seaweed, that and our more sedate pace (see above) may hopefully do the trick. Bob and Barry believe they spotted a Red-Billed Tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus) but other new species of wildlife were keeping well hidden. The Master is lamenting his bent bowsprit despite the crew`s best efforts to reassure him that he is still as much of a man as he was before. Hopefully when he poles out the Yankee later his spirits will lift. The daily rhythm means we are living lives of repetition and we can hardly recall our past tribulations. We will have just 1000nm to go of the 2100nm passage sometime today so a little celebration would be in order and I have vowed to stop asking the Master “are we nearly there yet?”
Thankfully only one case of conjunctivitis and the usual sprains and strains including tennis elbow.
The skipper is usually totally immune to mickey-taking and the odd barbed comment. And I mean armoured, bullet and fire proof! It seems, however, that the comment regarding his luxuriating for an 8 hour unbroken sleep in a huge double bed managed, in a small way, to breach his previously unassailable defences. After a slow start, we were treated to an absolute stream of reasons identifying why the aft master suite was not necessarily the place that we, as crew, saw it as the retreat, the nirvana. So far we have been advised of the following deflective reasons: the noise of the hydrogenerator, the noise of the wind generator, the slap of the sea on the transom, the ingress of waves through the open aft ventilator, the hum of the bilge pump, and many more. We, as fully paid up members of the crews union, hereby advise the skipper that none of these reasons cuts any ice at all with us. Please do not confuse us with the facts, our collective mind is made up!
Having said that, the skipper has his own little ways of retribution, such as advising a crew member the moment he wakes up that he is due on the foredeck this instant to pole out the jib. Not an unreasonable request one would think, but please give a chap a chance to get his under-rods on first!
Barry is hiding from the Doc as he doesn’t like the eye drop treatment, bless him !