Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Clipper Race sailing Day 9

Today I thought that I would include a harrowing tale from the good ship Great Britain's Cap't.;

OK, now for those reading at home, brace yourselves but rest assured that by the end of my story all on board are ok and so is the good ship GREAT Britain!
My word of the day for today has absolutely no competition; it just has to be Tornado!
So this would have been a blog about the continuing frustration of wind holes, squalls and sailing to windward against large amounts of current, but today was destined to be something different.
We had been passing by/through a number of squalls during the morning and going through the usual routine of reefing in and reefing out, headsails up and headsails down and all was going well and we were making progress towards our destination.
I was down below and on deck they were starting to put a reef in the mainsail in anticipation of another squall which was fast approaching when I heard a word on board that I had never heard before in 30 years of sailing.
That word was Tornado, and then within a split second we went from about 5 knots of wind to about 100! We were knocked down to 90 degrees, absolutely flat on the water, I was thrown into the engine room and pelted by screw drivers, sockets and pieces of pump the contents of the galley sinks and cupboards were scattered randomly around the saloon and on deck it soon became clear that it was a bit of a mess!
We were probably pinned to the water for about 30 seconds as the Tornado passed and then the boat righted it itself and the wind went back to 5 knots.
A quick head count ensured that all were still safely on board and as we watched the twister first move away from us and then start to circle back at us, we quickly dropped all sail to deck in case it decided to have another pass.
Thankfully this precaution was not necessary and the twister moved off away from us and then started to dissipate, phew!
So the clean-up began. As a precaution we carried out a
rig check to make sure all was in good order and no damage had been caused, during which we noticed that a couple of sliders on the mainsail required attention. So we left the mainsail down and hoisted just the headsails whilst we replaced the webbing on the sliders and now the sliders are repaired the mainsail has just been re-hoisted and we are back on our way.
As I said at the start, most importantly, all crew are un-harmed and the good ship GREAT Britain has come out with nothing but a few minor grazes, so all in all I consider us very lucky and we are back racing. I suspect however our position will have suffered considerably by two hours of bobbing and drifting with what really is rather a strong current, but ho hum, this is ocean racing and we have to be able to deal with anything!

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