Oh Island in the Sun...except our first sight of St Lucia, it wasn't. Came Saturday dawn, 20 days at sea, and there huddled beneath squalls was St Lucia, the only decoration vivid rainbows arcing down from the clouds. Some boats have been motor sailing almost continuously for the last 3 days to get in before 20 days, but since we did 19 days in 2001 we feel no such compulsion and have mostly sailed through light winds although we still have lots of fuel. Then we are hit by the squalls and ... the poor much abused pole that acts like a boom for the foresail cracks. The end has already broken (jury - repaired) but this is a crack in the middle. We readjust ropes and plunge on, nearby squalls cooling us, cutting corners round Pigeon Island as we race other boats for the finish after 2740 miles. Finally there is the speedboat that takes photos of yachts, the ARC boat at the finish line and we tighten up onto a beat and with all full sail race across the line yelling like mad and waving at everyone. Bernard and Beryl have smiles like a caribbean coconut, Nicky and I are punching the air, we've done it, no injuries this time.
HALLIARD WRAP! When we first heard the term it sounded more like a chocolate candy than the disaster many sailors fear only less than a man overboard or an actual dismasting. Neil Cox giving the ARC seminar on rigging before we left said that. Its when the rope pulling the spinaker or cruising chute up wraps itself around the forestay (the wire holding the mast up at the front). Harmless you might think. But once its tightly wrapped round its usually impossible to pull the spinakker or chute down - usually several thousands of £ of sail have to be cut free - or the halliard as its twisted ever tighter can even saw through parts of the forestay weakening the whole rig and in some cases bringing it down. The only alternative is sometimes to haul a man aloft on a bosuns chair to the very top of the mast 60 feet up that is swaying around some 10 feet in either direction every 5 seconds with the waves to try to work it all lose.
The Atlantic doesn't stop setting us problems! Immediately after I had sent yesterdays log about halliard wrap, and as I was speaking to Galadriel on the VHF, there was an urgent then VERY URGENT call from the cockpit. Intrepid had been steering a course to keep her at a constant bearing to the wind, with Big Green Monster Chute up and mainsail. The apparent wind had suddenly shifted hugely and the top 25 feet of the BGM had swung a complete turn round the forestay . The middle had tried to follow but was constrained by the rope holding the back end so it twisted (with bits of BGM) tightly around the forestay about 30 feet up . The lower half followed the top but with fewer turns, producing an hour glass or egg timer effect with sail billowing out at the top and bottom and a twisted knot with bits of sail in different rotations round the middle. You may have seen photos of yachts like this - it can happen all too frequently. The top of the BGM was alternately filling and flapping twisting more turns of BGM round the forestay and allowing even more sail to get entangled in the knot in the middle while lots of wind pulled the knot even tighter. Its not called the Big Green Monster for nothing
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