What an horrendous watch. We had the joy of sleeping after dinner from 6pm ’til 10pm to take over the graveyard shift.  At half past nearly the end of our watch at 0130 ish, the wind picks up and the decision is taken to change down to the heavier weight spinnaker.

Given we’ve now done a number of changes of the spinnaker, doing what is called a peel… that means that you hoist the second spinnaker whilst the current one is flying. It’s a really cool manoeuvre and you don’t tend to lose too much boat speed.

Well, that’s the theory.

Last night, both watches were on deck, and there we were ready to hoist the staysail just to give a bit of protection for the hoist. Hmmmm… no free winch so we carefully wrap the staysail halyard around the base of a free winch, do the hoist and then jam off the halyard…. that means that you basically use the jammer – a block that grabs the rope and holds it fast.

Ready for the heavy weight spinnaker hoist and a cry from the bow to “hold”. Well as the sailors reading this will tell you, you never abort a spinnaker hoist because if you stop the hoist you can get into even more

In our case we stopped because the tack line had dropped into the water, the spinnaker was struggling to be hoisted and we were in trouble. The kite was in the water… first time we had “trawled” the spinnaker. And not only that but we had an hour glass wrap in the spinnaker that was already up.


Trying to pull out of the sea a heavy piece of material the size of a tennis court that is going under the boat at 11knots, and is being dragged under the water by the weight of the sea. Cry for all hands to the foredeck to get the beast out of the water.

Roser and I determined as ever just hung on and pulled and grunted and pulled again and lost a piece of sail then pulled again, watching out for a flogging sail with the metal clew about to clank the back of your head if you weren’t careful. Safely lines attached, we were a crew on a mission.

We finally got the tack end of the sail out of the water, threaded it over the preventer line, through the boom and under the mainsail (a letterbox drop) and down the hatch into the saloon area. Next job, drop the other spinnaker. Second letterbox drop in less than 15

In the meantime we run the edges of the Code 3 until red and blue lines are untangled and then start rolling the sail and attach pieces of wool AKA “wooling the kite”.

And our watch was now over by about two and a half hours. We had one hour sleep before our next watch was due to start.

It was all action and as one of our crew said, a pain, we lost ground to the other boat (but not by much it appeared afterward) but no one was hurt.
Our de brief the next morning was pretty good, we understood why it had happened and most importantly we had all performed brilliantly as a team, we were all safe, unharmed and we had secured two huge sails with no damage to either. Our skipper was pleased with how we had performed in this nighttime drama… a trawl and a wrap all in one go. Not what you want during the day let alone at night, nor during a watch handover and in 11 knots of wind.

Ho hum, welcome to the world of sailing in the South Atlantic.


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