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The Jackson Four on Tour
Operation 'sell Pegasus of Jersey' begins""
She who breaks it fixes it

16 June 2011
Apparently, it was my fault the main halyard block sheared as I was on watch at the time! Well, that was the reason Mark gave me for me going up the mast rather than him. Actually, mast monkey has become a bit of a Cath specialty, but I popped my going-up-the-mast-whilst-at-sea cherry today and I've got the thigh bruises to prove it! We motored pretty much through til 2pm today when the seas/winds got slightly calmer (16knots) Then, donning Lochy's bike helmet, pillow down front/cushion down back of sallopettes, Mark winched me up the mast. The idea was that I would use a safety harness around the mast to keep me from swinging too far away, which worked well, except I had to unclip and clip back on to get past the spreaders and that was really hard. Then up to the top, using my thighs to grip the mast (thank God for my pole dancing lessons back in Jersey!) untie and re-tie a one handed bowline, threading it through a new block. It was like riding a bucking broncho up there and I was wishing at that point that I hadn't left my climbing harness at home; it would have been far superior to the bosun's chair I was in. Holding on to the mast was taking all my effort and I was knackered; my muscles getting tired. When I had to unclip to get past the spreaders on the way back down again. My hands were so tired, I didn't clip back onto the mast, which was the point at which my body and the mast parted company and I went for a bit of a swing. With a shout of "just get me down quick" I was lying on the trampoline in a jiffy, not scared just absolutely. Physically. Exhausted. My muscles are all aching now but the sail is back up and Mark and I feel proud of our joint effort. This trip has made us realise that we do actually make a good team.

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I take it back

16 June 2011
I take it back. That is cursing the man who sold us our new main halyard two days before left Panama City. As it turns out, the main sail completely collapsed and fell down due to a block shearing rather than the halyard snapping. Either way, bummer. Will have to wait for light of day to go up the mast and retrieve the halyard to reconnect. Hopefully the wind will follow the pattern of no wind during the day, just for long enough to go up the mast, rather than the 30 knots it is now. Then of course, please Mr trade winds can you make an appearance and make this trip a little bit fun! It's been great to talk to Ame from Gruffalo by SSB this evening. In the meantime, snails pace into the wind under reefed genoa alone, with 2 metre swells. The stuff that dreams are made of. At least, Mark and I have extra crew so we can get some sleep. Oh, hang on a minute, we haven't. That's why we're so tired!! Current post: 02.34N 81.56W

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OK, I'll make this a short one as we have 25-30 knots on the nose and it's like we're on a rollercoaster here. But, we don't mind so much as at least we are moving today. It was getting kind of depressing when even the dolphins were preferring to surf the waves coming towards you, rather than the bow, cos we were just too slow for them! Whit, you don't know what you're missing out on here - even though it's windy, I'm giving us our day our daily bread, and there's wind - something you've not had the pleasure of meeting whilst you were with us in San Blas!! Our nocturnal seagull came back again after a night's hunting and rested all day, only leaving us when we put in or shake out a reef (gets a bit noisy) or to do a poo. Very considerate! It's 9pm and he's cruising along next to us at the moment. So, we're heading West for another 60 miles or so, then turning South to meet the tradewinds until we hit the equator then West again. I had my first success at being heard on the SSB during a Pacific radio net; it's nice to have that connection. We might be having a problem with Mia's hand after the fishing hook incident - she's fine to hold colouring crayons or a fork or a bar of chocolate, but a sharp pain occurs when she has to do maths or diary. I think it might be permanently damaged! Even though it's rough, we are still doing school work, though I'm doing the writing and the kids are dictating. Now there's dedication for you! Curr pos'n: 03.30N 80.57W

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13 June 2011
Hmm. Wind on the nose, and I'm feeling inexperienced in the navigation. We have been given the details of a weather router - Karsten, a Dane living in Panama, who gives us weather and current updates on a daily basis, which is really useful. He also has a net but I haven't been able to hear him yet as the radio is not 100% working! I have however, had success at contacting another ship, who relayed a message to our friends Gruffalo, so a partial success! Anyway, as I was saying, with these long passages, do I do really long tacks heading way away from our destination first? Or do I do shorter tacks, almost doubling our mileage? One thing is for sure - we've had to turn the engines off as we wouldn't have enough diesel to motor the whole way! If we weren't picking Whit up again for crew and we weren't delivering a parcel to another yacht who had to leave Panama before it had arrived, I would just relax a little and accept the fact that it will take us longer. That's what I am supposed to do, but when you are doing 3 knots in the wrong direction, it gets a little frustrating. Well, that's what sailing is all about, as I am sure I would be told by the experienced - all part of the fun. On a lighter note, we've had a swallow tailed gull with bright red legs and eye hitchhike on our boat all day, which has kept Lochy and Mia amused for a while! Not much more to report, so over and out (just to wind up those who know you don't say over AND out at the same time!
Current location: 03.55N 80.05W (I know I know, not much progress in the past 24 hours!)

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Not such a lucky lure

12 June 2011
Never a dull day at sea! Will start with reporting that thankfully, due to me using an imaginative way of re-introducing the times tables, we actually had fun during school today. We had the usual moans about diary, but I'd miss that if it weren't there (!) Having started at 7.30am, we had finished by 10.30am, so got the kids doing the dishes and then all enjoyed playing board games together in the afternoon. At 4.30pm, Mia asked if she could put out the fishing lure. At which point she managed to hook herself onto the lure. Now I'm not talking about a little scratch here. No, she had actually got the hook well and truly embedded in her hand, with the barb nowhere to be seen. So Mark and I spend the next hour, firstly cutting the rest of the lure off the hook, so we only have to deal with the half inch of metal that is in her hand. Now every good fisherman will know that if you get a fish hook caught in your hand, you simply push the hook through until it comes out of the skin, and then cut the barb off before pulling the rest of the hook out. Try telling that to an 8 year old. However, once again, Mia's courage and bravery blew me away as she and I "HypnoBirthed" our way through Mark pushing the hook forward through her skin, cutting the end off and then pulling it out, leaving two tiny puncture marks. In fact, Mia probably made more fuss about having the alcohol put on the wound at the end than the whole of the rest of the 'operation.' Now, 3 hours later, she reports it doesn't hurt at all, however we have started her on antibiotics just in case. Let it be said, my daughter is made of sterner stuff than me, who had to have a little cry in the cabin after, whilst finding the sweeties to placate all. And, now, everyone is asleep except me. We are under sail alone, not necessarily in the ideal direction, but it's nice to have the engines off, albeit at a slightly sedate rate of 4 knots. After the excitement of today, I am happy to take thing slowly for a wee while. Can I stress, that Mia is fine and was bouncing around the boat less than three hours later. Once again, Mia is fine! POsition: 04.50.83N 79.29.76W

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SSB glitch

11 June 2011

Wow, the Pacific is ALIVE!! We have not had an hour go by today without one of us shouting to come and see the wildlife. Just as the kids were getting complacent about dolphins, we had a show of somersaults, flips and splashes from the biggest dolphins we have seen to date, a truly magnificent sight. Then a bunch of pilots whales again came past the boat, followed by a three hour show of Spanish mackerel (I think) leaping out of the water comedy style. The flock of pretty birds (yet to be identified!) dwindled until there was just one solitary bird following our boat, but all in all a busy Attenborough type of day. As I tried to send the last e mail, I couldn't get the blasted SSB to work. What with that and the satellite phone not working, I thought I was going to be in big trouble with the mother in law, so I pulled out all the stops to fix the SSB and noticed a cable I had not reconnected after our lightening incident the day before. Pheeeew. School girl error. Talking of which, back to school tomorrow. We've had about a three week half term (oops!) so tomorrow we are gently re-introducing some of the more structured stuff (maths, literacy etc.) Whilst I'd like to think that the whole experience of the trip is education itself and today was a practical experience, it nevertheless won't do to have the kids get to their next school and know the mating signals of a cormorant but not know their 4 times table! I'll prepare for the worst and hope for the best. This is a sailing quote but goes well with the whole teaching Lochy thang. Wish me luck.

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Jackson Four on Tour
Who: Mark, Catherine, Mia and Lachlan
Port: Lefkas, Greece
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