FROM 1-20. Belmore and Pete swims

Sep 17, 2005 – 1530hrs UTC │Pete’s view of events

1530hrs 17 Sep 2005 UTC 04’24”N 024’16”W Ref 370

DG 76, 10376 (GPS 76) Seem that’s going to be about par for the next couple of weeks – we’re going to be hard on the wind down to Trinidade, but I hope we’ll get lifted so we don’t have to tack around S. America.

H – we’re in contact with Jo, so no need to do anything. Ta.

Came up on deck this morning to an amazing sky – there seemed to be 4 separate layers – sorry, but I don’t remember my clouds and don’t want to unpack the boat to find the book – the ice crystals way up on top, with creases and bands going SW/NE, then a layer of almost lenticular bands of thicker fluffier but tightly rolled cumulus-like clouds, with the bands approximately E/W, (some indication of a jetstream up there?) then a layer of perhaps AltoCu – fluffy, tight little puffs very close together, then the low level diurnal type cu moving towards us at the gradient wind speed. All patchy and confused. And the sea is dark gunbarrel grey.

I hung myself over the transom to do what blokes do and saw a small fish positively gambolling around Kevvo’s paddle – wasn’t a flying fish – short and stubby. I also saw something very strange – a globe shaped object, perhaps 15 cm diameter – apparently full of holes, a bit like those things that get put into vases for flower arrangements – and every hole seemed to be blowing bubbles. Odd; all I can think of is that it might have been a chance symmetrical arrangement of barnacles around something. Kevvo’s paddle has two barnacles already on the trailing edge. I covered the entire paddle with lanolin spray in Falmouth when Berri was slipped and that seems to be keeping the slime and other stuff off the rest of it.

Kevin, Kevvo is going really well – new arrangement is working with slight mods from me. There’s a tricky bit that I think you can fix with a tiny design change too – f you can get to the coming home party, I’ll show you else I’ll draw you a picture. Definitely not a showstopper and might just be peculiar to the Berri arrangement.

[Pete’s view of events]

G’day out there,

So, did he jump or was he pushed? ……I know Fenwick would like to have the story spiced up a little at this stage, what with there being no severe storms forecast for the next few weeks, the punters out there need a bit of drama to liven things up with their morning coffee, a bit of biff a decent stoush a bloody good argument about anything. Unfortunately no such luck.

I didn’t jump and a push from where I was would have been difficult to organise.

I was on top of the coachroof, just about to lace up the reef that we had put in the mainsail. I had the rope in my left hand and was leaning against the boom and mainsail, next thing I remember I was catapulted through the air and I saw the lifelines pass beneath me. I remember dropping the line I had just before I dived into the water. The whole incident from launch to hitting the water would have taken only a second. I had thought some time ago of what I would do if I went over the side and decided that the best recovery from this situation would be to get hold of the rope which trails astern with a propeller for generating electricity. I probably then swam the fastest 20 metres possible to get to the generator rope which was on the surface of the water before it trailed off under water with the propeller spinning on its end. I got there in time grabbed the rope then turned on my back and enjoyed the ride. By this time Alex had thrown the sheets and the boat was slowing down, he then hauled me in and attempted to get me on board. In calm water, it is fairly easy to get back on board via the stern, unfortunately we were in heavy seas and the stern was pitching up and down at a great rate.

Alex’s grip on my arm slipped on the first attempt and I went back down hitting my left shin on the stainless self-steering paddle ( later this was found to be badly bruised with a couple of lumps of meat missing ). The second attempt was successful and I was back on board.

So what did we learn from this. Throughout the last few days we had been doing a lot of sail changes and had probably become complacent through this repetitive exercise. The boat should have been on autopilot but apparently it had disengaged itself from the tiller and this was not noticed ( we were sailing to windward at the time and the boat will hold its course for a longtime to windward if the sails are balanced ). The preventer which stops the boom from crashing from one side to the other during an unexpected tack or gybe had been let go and earlier and not been replaced. These two things allowed the unexpected tack but it must have been a very steep wave lifting the boat’s port side violently which caused the tack. Generally you can feel the boat straighten upright just before one of these uncontrolled tack or gybe but there was no warning to this one, it was all in one movement…tip..tack…whack. We were both lucky the way things panned out.

Obviously more vigilance is required and this was a good wake up call. The problem of getting the MOB back on board proved to be a lot more difficult than first thought, Alex is now leaving a harness and tackle on deck so it can be quickly rigged if an injured MOB had to be hauled out and the place to do this is midships not over the stern. ( Berri has boarding steps on the transom and this was thought to be the best place for an uninjured person to get back on. ). What has emerged as the real problem is that if the MOB is injured or worse unconscious then we must have a routine worked out so that one person can recover the other without assistance.

To finish on a lighter note here’s my daughter Sarah’s latest attempt to humour us.

Two old farts were sailing a small boat on a large ocean,

“Its windy”

“Its Thursday”

“I certainly am I’ll get the beers”.

Cheers everyone………..Pete.

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