ARC+ LEG 2 DAY 14
04 December 2018 | 14:12 58:10
The ARCers a story of every day sailing folk. In this episode: It's 3am and Richard takes over watch from Alison
'Good morning Alison, oohh its looks a bit dark an inhospitable out there, I think I shall stay in my bunk' said Richard,
Alison replied was not so cheery, 'About time you was you up was just going to get you, the wind is building, its now 20kts, I can see lights on our starboard side and are only 3 or 4 miles away, and seem to be getting closer what do you want to do?'
Richard thought for a moment and had a look around, and could see a white stern light from a vessel off the starboard bow and then went below to look at the chartplotter, the vessel showing up on the AIS was not Gertha V whom we expected it to be as we knew we were closing in on them from behind. The vessel on AIS was 'Arinhina' a 18m sailing vessel, we had seen a week ago but had not seen since, the AIS position was not the lights we could see so we now had two vessels in quite close proximity and the one on AIS of which Richard could not see any lights from was on a converging course with us and coming down from our starboard quarter. Just then Cerulean lurched violently to one side then the other knocking the Hydrovane off course as the wind gusted to 27kts. Now the second vessel showed up on the AIS on 3 miles away, it was Gertha v another ARC boat. Richard went back on deck and took the helm, he could now see both vessels on the chartplotter at the helm. As they looked they still could not see the lights from the other vessel, Richard said ' I am not surprised that we cannot see the Arinhinas lights yet, when we passed them the other day they were using their lower lights and not a masthead lights i could not seem them before until we where within a couple of miles' just he said, Alison said, 'look there they are just over there' they were just off to our starboard beam. Then both AIS tracks changed course and started heading south directly toward us.
Richard wondered what was going on, then the lights vanished into the blackness, 'they must be in a squall', and sure enough one showed up on the radar to the NW of our position and it was affecting them and now us. 'We must do something quick to avoid a collision, we could turn to starboard to north head up behind them, but that would be putting us deeper into the squall which was obviously giving them a hard time, so that would not be a good idea, our only other option would be to gybe and track along behind them, Alison can you call Jeremy up on deck'.
Jeremy came on deck, Richard said, 'we need to gybe, and take a reef in on the main.' They worked quickly to gybe the main over, good now they were on the same tack as the other to yachts and tracking along just behind them, that was one issue sorted, now to reef the mainsail, that took 10 minutes or so. The headsail had been poled out on the starboard side, this was now shielded by the reefed main and flapping like an old table cloth, this was furled away, and all was calm and under control. They were out of risk of collision with the other yachts and had a manageable amount of sail, still making 6kts with just the main up. Richard said ' that's ok now, we can sail along like this for a while until the squall has passed over, then see if we need to gybe back or pole out the head sail on the other side, if you guys want to turn for now, I will take much watch, thanks for your help' Alison and Jeremy went down below, Richard sailed on, the wind had shifted from NE to E and now to SE, the wind slowly dropped back down to the nominal 15-18 kts, and gradually our speed dropped away to less than 6kts. With out the head sail to balance the boat the 'Old Harry' the windvane steering struggled to keep a course and Richard had to hand steer for most of his 3 hour night watch..well its something to do...
By the time Richard's watch came to end at 6am and Jeremy came on deck Richard said ' I think we better bring the pole out the other side and get the genoa back out' 'Right oh' Jeremy said. They put the deck lights on, Richard clipped himself onto the jackstay and clambered up the side deck to the foredeck, the sea was still running after the squall and Cerulean was pitching and rolling like a bucking bronco on the foredeck, cleared a few flying fish from the deck, Richard set about the task of gybing the pole whisker pole, a 15ft 3inch diameter aluminum spar with the capability of swinging violently around and giving someone a nasty injury if it is not kept under control. The pole is fixed at one end to the mast on a track and supported at the outer by the up-haul. The outer end of the pole was lowered, the sheet let free, the guys untied from the starboard side and set up on port, the up-haul re-routed around the babystay and care taken looking aloft to ensure that it is not wrapped around the radome and fog horn and fixed back to the pole, the sheet clipped back on then the pole re-hoisted to starboard and the genoa hauled back out onto the pole, it all sounds so easy, but it takes half an hour on a pitching rolling deck in the dark. With the sails now set and Cerulean back up to 6 -7 kts, and Richard had finished his watch and went below and back to his bunk to cool down and a well earned sleep.
Meanwhile Phil slept peacefully in his cabin oblivious to what had been going on.
That concludes today's episode of the ARCers. The next episode will be 'Arrival in St. Lucia and Rum Punch'
The cast was played by members of the Cerulean Crew.
Cerulean of Penryn