FROM 1-7. Near the Horn

Mar 03, 2005 – 1216hrs UTC

Sitrep: 1216hrs 03 Mar 2005 UTC 54’32”S 095’46”W Map Ref 95

I’ve just done something so astonishingly stupid that you’d better hear about it before I have time to pretend it didn’t happen. A few minutes after nightfall, 25 – 30 kts, boat crashing along at about 7 off the wind, sill reasonably dry in the cockpit. Middle of a niggling watch with lots of trivial things needing sorting so several trips to very cold cockpit or upper deck, all quick sorties, no party gear and back inside again, so I was a bit grumpy and aggressive. Realised we had not streamed the generator turbine after stowing the solar panel – genny is back in operation although a  bit down in output and we need all we can get – so grabbed waterproof mitts and back into windy, cold and by now slightly damp cockpit as spray arriving intermittently. Turbine line lashed neatly coiled, no kinks ready to go – easy – done it often before. Those of you who can guess what’s coming can stop reading here. Braced myself in the pushpit, untied the lashing, turbine over the side and whoosh – the water grabs it, spins it up and off it goes astern on the end of the rapidly twisting line running out through my hand. All ok so far. Then the line catches on the edge of the board I’m standing on and it is coiled over and instantly I’ve got a handful of writhing malevolent monster and no escape. Huge writhing coils of knotted line, boat still doing 7, spray now all around, Pete asleep below. At times like this, apart from a mintie, a scream or two of rage, fear and frustration seem to help and duly occurred. No way to stop it twisting, almost impossible to hold. Managed to tie it off to the puspit where the trailing part continued to twist up to the point where the torque actually stopped the turbine.

Situation so far – a by now angry, scared old geezer down the back with 30 metres of quivering 12mm spectra tied off to pushpit threatening at any time to go completely out of control, loop of twisted, knotted line between pushpit knot and generator hanging over the stern and thrashing in the water, boat still crashing along at 7+ knots. Proper solution – yell for Pete, do what I should have done before starting the whole manoeuvre and throw the main and jib sheets and stop the boat and sort it out. So what did I actually do? Around about here, shame takes over and I’m reluctant to admit that I did none of those things – I took my mitts off and immediately got one twisted in the line and lost overboard, another scream of rage and I started to undo the knot attaching the line to the generator shaft, intending to stream  the looped part of the line and let the knots untwist themselves. Knot taped up with duct tape to stop bitter end flailing and so it gets worse – I eventually get it untaped and untwisted, undo it from the pushpit, stream the whole disaster and discover that there’s another knot in it out along the line somewhere and the entire line is flailing…anyway, Pete, by this time awake and alarmed arrives and does what I should have done and stops the boat, grumps at me for being a stupid twit and goes back to bed and leaves me to sort out the mess and get the boat going again.

Do I need to list all the mistakes? Starting with no party gear…?  Took about 20 very cold minutes to sort and serious apology to Pete who by then was due to take over the watch. Mea culpa – listen and learn, kiddies or history will repeat itself.  Shut your face Fenwick, I know – even S&S people aren’t that silly, just forgetful. Here endeth my confession.

And to cap off a happy evening, there’s a brand new leak over my bunk – probably actually a recurrence of an old one around the window now covered by the foam insulation. But by the time I’ve finished this note and pulled in a VMC wxfax we’ll be down under 1000 to go to the Horn. Just a bit more thanSydneyto NZ.

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