FROM 1-25. Blowing a (super) gale

Oct 20, 2005 - 0530hrs UTC

0530hrs 20 Oct 2005 UTC 39’37”S 009’47”E Ref 462

Yesterday was a long and fairly grim day, so it seems to have been a good one to have tried to describe more or less as it happened. They are not all like that, although there is often a fair amount of underlying tension – in me anyway – when the wind is up around 40 kt. I won’t bore you with the same detail today – we’ve climbed nearly 70 miles to the north and at sunrise I gybed the boat – easy with just the storm jib – and pulled up the main with its first reef already set. Always a bit of a struggle solo because it usually has to come up with the wind holding it against the shrouds and invariably something gets caught at the cockpit end so have to tie off the halyard, go back and sort and return – sometimes several times. Today, the big fourth batten got itself twisted around in a loop of reefing line. Much backing and slewing. But it’s up and working, we’re heading east again and for the mo, all’s right with the world. I’ve just changed Kevvo’s windvane from small to large. There’s a big residual swell running – the principal one from the SW, with another from the south and maybe a third from the NW.

We expect the wind to soften and then come in again at 40+ from the NW and back to the west at the top of the next low some time tomorrow morning. Being a bit further north may take some of the biff out of it.

Hallo Lizzie, Joe and Harvey. What are you having for breakfast? I had some biscuits dipped in a cup of tea for mine. I think you have heard about our metal friend called Kevvo – he’s a sort of robot who steers the boat when we need both hands and sometimes both feet as well to do other things. We don’t think there are any pirates out here but he looks out for them too. He’s steering now and I expect he’s hoping a metal princess will appear one day out of the misty sea so he can run away and live happily ever after – I hope not because we need him! Your dad says he is reading you a book about the Nullabor – I’d like to read that! – soon, I hope, we will be sailing along past the Nullabor across the bottom of Australia.

From Allan C.

Two handed Watch-Keeping systems.

On a recent trip coming back from the Azores on ‘Morgan le Fay’, (eight days from Ponta Delgada to Bayonna and five days from Ria Muros to Dartmouth) we tried a new watch keeping system that had been recommended to us. We would now firmly pass on the recommendation to others to try it for themselves.

 For the short handed crew of two the problems of the well used ‘3 on/3 off’ or ‘4 on/4 off’ and their dog-watch variants are that during the off-watch period one invariably concentrates upon catching up on sleep with usually little time remaining to cook, read, converse and enjoy the trip.

 At first glance the new system seemed a little daunting with its longer spells on watch, but even after just the first two days we found it to be the best system that either of us had used.

We found that it gave us each plenty of sleep and relaxed time for the off-watch activities, whilst importantly being wide-awake on-watch even during the night hours. We both commented that not once did we have that “”oh no, not another two hours to go””, nor was there the depressing struggle for another ten minutes sleep before one’s turn. At the end of each trip there was no tiredness.

The alternating watches are self-rotating:
0000 to 0400   
0400 to 0800
0800 to 1300
1300 to 1900
1900 to 2400

If it worked for us, it should work for you.

Allan C, thanks for watchkeeping system – we’re pretty much stuck in a routine after nearly ten months at sea but we’ll think about it. It certainly looks sensible and if it works for you… May we post your note on the website please – I think all the sailors should see it.

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