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Crew member on GBR9793T Cheeki Rafiki

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From 1800 till 2200 red watch with Steve, Nick, John and Martin handled some interesting tactical decisions around sail changes and courses to steer with the wind repeatedly changing in speed and direction.

A brief but excited exchange between fishermen over the vhf suggests leticia and lolita our castaway limp lettuce may have found their new home.

We (blue watch) took over from 2200 - 0200 hrs. First joining the discussion about moving down from the M/H to the light nr 1. Twice the decision was postponed, then the wind started to build and build. First we went to the nr3, then a 1st reef and the wind was gusting 25- 30 knots.

The next bit is for me, best described as an amazing learning experience as our Skipper Gareth calmly took us through to the point where we were cruising through 40mile winds, two reefs in the main, waves coming from nowhere in the dark.

First Bret. then Gareth. then me on the helm beating up, the wind gusting higher and higher with a manic sea rushing at us. I would never have believed a boat could be sailed through such chaos in the calm way these professionals go about their business. This was a force 8 so what is a force 10 like?!

When enough was enough, Gareth calmly asked me, on the helm, with Gary on the main, to keep the boat flat as he and Steve went to the bow to drop the head sail. This trust astounded me. Then they were gone into the black night and gushing water that shrouded the bow, me feeling a huge responsibility as our most experienced sailors danced with fate. Soon they were back in the cockpit chatting tactics. Me, not sure if the wet legs were seawater or my own relief!

As we now surged along with only the double reefed main driving the boat, the yacht handled totally differently, lurching in an unfamiliar way. Fatigue sets in fast on the helm in these situations and after an involuntary tack sleepless steve took over and red watch started the toughest shift so far.

Ken Allison This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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