Sunday 2 December 2012

ARC Day Four

It is dawn on Sunday morning and we have had a great night’s sleep. We have been on a broad reach all night, charging along at between 9 and 11 knots in 25 knots of wind, with 30 knots in the gusts and the motion of the boat has been much more comfortable.

We are heading south because there is a large low pressure system to the west which is turning into a tropical depression, the pre-cursor to a hurricane. However, it is tracking north east and of no danger to us other than it will suck all the wind out of the system and leave us with light airs in its wake.  We have had great wind for the first few days of our crossing but these are likely to die down during the course of next week and slow our pace. Yesterday we had a pod of dolphins playing in our bow wake and we see the occasional flying fish skimming over the waves, maybe escaping from a larger predator under the waves.

Yesterday we decided to gybe onto port gybe in order to head south away from the storm. This is a quite lengthy and complex process on Juno with our offshore rig, as we also have to gybe the spinnaker pole which we use to hold our large genoa out to windward, allowing us to sail deep downwind.  The spinnaker pole is a large aluminium spar around 20 feet long and weighing about 50 kilos, permanently attached to the mast at one end about 10 feet above the deck, and held horizontal by means of a number of ropes: There is a topping lift holding it up, a fore guy pulling it down towards the bow and an aft guy holding it down and back towards the cockpit. These ropes keep the pole firmly in position once all the apparatus is in place but getting it there is a lengthy manoeuvre, made harder by the spray over the foredeck and the bow pitching in the Atlantic swell. Wearing our lifejackets and clipped onto the jackstays with our lifelines, Andrew, Kim and I go onto the foredeck while Paul and Steven stay in the cockpit to control the lines. The process of gybing involves lowering the pole into my arms on the starboard foredeck by easing the topping lift and raising the inboard end of the pole.  I remove all the guys and sheets while hanging onto the pole and we then manhandle it to the other side of the deck where I clip on another set of guys and sheets on before we winch it back up into position.

Yesterday we had a small drama because as we were lowering the pole, the topping lift slipped off the winch and the outboard end of the pole crashed down onto the guard wires, glancing me on the forehead on its way down and knocking me over onto the deck.  Lying on the deck slightly stunned by the impact, I put my hand to my head finding it coated in blood and my first thought was that we might need to stitch me up. However, once back in the cockpit the cut wasn’t as bad is it had seemed at first. Kim and Paul mopped me up with antiseptic spray and applied some steri strips and the bleeding quickly stopped. In our post mortem (pun not intended) of the gybe we concluded that we had been very fortunate and that if the pole had hit me square on, it could have been a much more serious accident.  A small incident like this has served to remind us to take great caution out here on the Ocean.

Paul commented yesterday that watching me at the helm I seemed as happy as he has ever seen me and he mused me that this could well be one of the high points in our lives. Worth remembering and  savouring.


  1. All sounds amazing and you are so savour the special moments! Glad the steri strips were all that was needed, stay safe!

  2. Sounds like you are having a terrific sail and a memorable time, and I'm really enjoying my vicarious Atlantic crossing via your blogs - but please no more medi kit appearances! Just Rose chuckles will do ... Continue to have a great and safe trip. Didi Burden