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Ocean Planet Report
Tuesday, December 17, 2002
Position: 38 23S, 28 10E 


We are in a light spot right now going just a mere 10kts, which is in stark contrast to last night and this morning where I have never gone so fast or been so scared.

I started last night with a reef in the main, heavy reacher, and working jib. As the wind increased I took a second reef and rolled up the new working jib (which looks great). I thought I could hang onto the heavy reacher up to 35kts or so, but was worried about rolling it up in that much wind (the luff rope is a bit smaller than I should have used and we didn’t have time to replace it).

We went faster and faster as the ride eventually became excessively exciting with a violent motion and constant angry water sweeping down the decks. I tried to sleep but the shriek of the keel and the worry wouldn’t let me. Finally, I knew I had to roll up the reacher. This was easier said than done as I had to grind frantically on the furling line with my soon dog-tired arms while easing the sheet in a controlled manner. If I just blew the sheet the sail would start to flog so violently as to shake the entire boat, and the sheets would wind up into a knot. The first roll was no good with the leech still flogging, so I reluctantly unrolled it and tried again. Finally I got a passable roll, but I was still worried that the leech might blow loose…but I was toast and had to rest. At this point the wind was low 30’s and the boat was screaming even under main alone. I unrolled the working jib and got out of my soaking gear.

As dawn started to break, I kept checking the rolled up sail, and I could see that the wind was maliciously working its way into the sail and the leech was starting to puff up and flutter….I had to lower the sail onto the deck before it was too late! With water constantly cascading across the foredeck, I didn’t look forward to this at all. It took a while to get all geared up and clipped onto the jacklines…I almost got the sail half way down and then the worst thing began to happen – the leech worked loose and began to flog violently. I struggled desperately to hang on and pull the rolled sail aft and down, but was alternatively whipped around by the sail and washed back against the mast by the 20kt walls of water pummeling across the deck. I let go of the halyard to put all my weight onto the sail and to try to control it as it came down. It started to go but then stopped…what was wrong? I turned to see the entire halyard wash over the side. As this was a 2:1 halyard we are talking about a lot of line – about 200ft. I had to let go of the sail and let it whip around like an angry tornado while I slowly pulled the halyard back aboard. My arms felt almost useless as the load on the line was enormous at the speed the boat was going. Eventually I got the halyard back on the deck before the sail went in the water. What luck!! Many minutes of more fighting resulted in the sail deck in a heap with the waves of water trying to shove us both off the boat.

I was exhausted but the sail had to go below, so I had to go forward and detach the tack from the furler drum and get the sheets off. By the time I got the whole thing stuffed down the hatch an awful lot of water went down there with it. 

The wind was up to 45 knots and the waves awesome. The boat was constantly over 18kts and even in the cockpit you had to hang on tight to prevent the water blast from washing you out the back. I went below for a while but it wasn’t over yet. I had to put a third reef in the main. I won’t go through that story, but it suffices to say I was very glad and tired when it was done. I then went below to empty my boots and I took a nap.

The 6 a.m. poll showed that we had averaged 16.77kts for 8hrs. A couple hours ago I jibed, and of course the wind has died way down. I unrolled the working jib but will wait for some time before cranking out a reef! 

I don’t want to go through that again right away.

Bruce and OceanPlanet


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