DAY 18 The only place I felt normal on Shadow was the wooden perch at the stern… exposed to the elements but somehow despite the angry conditions, the fact I could settle my gaze on the horizon and actually see the swells approaching kept the inertia and weary sea legs at bay. Shadow is a […]
The only place I felt normal on Shadow was the wooden perch at the stern... exposed to the elements but somehow despite the angry conditions, the fact I could settle my gaze on the horizon and actually see the swells approaching kept the inertia and weary sea legs at bay. Shadow is a 'Colin Archer' design...a highly respected boat designer in sailing boat circles, the previous owner George had circumnavigated the globe, tackled Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, this old girl doesn't mind a bit of rough and tumble...on this occasion however the Magic Thumb did not share the same passion. Thankfully around mid-day I was beginning to feel normal, 2 hump back whales breached in the distance as 2 Yellow-nosed Albatrosses had been circling us all afternoon, we were averaging a steady 6 knots bound for the Cocos islands. Moral was back,and the nightmare of last night was fading...Peter had just rose from his well deserved cat nap as I was on watch drinking in the experience...we could relax and enjoy the sail and celebrated with a tin of tuna each and a cup of tea. Just as Peter was about to sit down his head lurched forward to the stern "what the f*#ks that!"...the connector for the 'Aries wind vein' (the self steering mechanism) had come undone, the cast aluminum hold had separated the two components rendering the steering system useless...this needed to be fixed pronto, their was still the auto pilot to rely on but if that were to go it would result in a 3000km voyage having to be steered manually, "absolute tyranny" in the skippers own words. Neptune's sick sense of humour then decided to flick the switch of turmoil once more, and so the seas roared up and gales force of gust quickly engulfed us again just as the sun had popped its head under the horizon. Let me just say this... Peter is a one off ! a 59 year old mad man with enough reserves of energy to power a cargo ship never mind a sailing boat, he is a lovely bloke but can switch into a ranting, raving lunatic at the drop of a hat, a buzzing ball of energy who often left me bewildered yet amused, then just plain confused to having me in hysterics to then leading me into notions of impending doom. "IT'S F*#KED, IT'S ABSOLUTELY FU*#ED" he would shout as he's standing there with some important part of the boat waving around in his right hand. The afore mentioned wind vein was merely the starting block for a relentless series of total madness that ensued for the next 12 hrs. My line of sight was staring at the back of Peter in the pitch black as his top half was precociously lurched over the back of the boat for 3hrs as he tried in vein to connect the two relevant components... i was on hand at the back of the boat with Peter half attached, bobbing up and down like a manic 'see-saw' with lunatic profanities getting stabbed out as the waves lashed upon us, "NINCOMPOOPS, HEAVENS ABOVE" Peter yelp's as he launched himself up," I'm gettin the pesky Dinghy out". Granted I know nothing about sailing and granted my fate is in the hands of Peter who is an experienced sailor, yet regardless of my peverse penchant for dangerous situations... I 100% knew that for Peter to venture out in these conditions was one step into the land of lunacy that was not needed...it was not crucial to fix the wind vein at this very moment...."let it go Peter...fix it when the weather calms". Let me remind you of the 3m swells and gale force winds literally battering us as Peter throws the dinghy overboard, he scrambles in to make his way round to the stern to gain access to the problem...all i see are potential impaling objects pointing down off the rear of the boat as Peter approaches, the silhouette of him and the dinghy with a head torch just heaving up 3m then down 3m and side to side, with blatant furiosity these conditions would not allow him enough time to pop the relevant pieces into place...only impale Peter on one of many hazards available, he quickly realised it was fruitless and then spent a further 2 hours trying to secure the Dinghy back on the boat in ridiculous conditions. The best option was to bag up the entrails of what was hanging from the existing wind vein to avoid further damage, so Peter is then back to leaning over the boat again... "FIDDLE STICKS!,DRAT!...GRADY THE PADDLES COME OFF"....and so for the next 2 hours I had to fix my sights on the paddle as it floated off into the darkness as we turned the boat round numerous times, I lost sight of it and could only rely on where I think it was...miraculously after 3 approaches we found it and fished it on board, the conditions got worse, we got pushed further off coarse, with little chance of forward motion, we couldn't get the sails up due to the conditions, the stacil halyard ( rope holding necessary sail) snapped...it was time to heave to, sit it out and get rattled around the boat till morning.