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Crew member on GBR9793T Cheeki Rafiki

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Red watch came on 2200 - 0200hrs

As the wind built the nr 1 gave way to the medium heavy. Eventually the nr 3 went up at 0130ish. With John at the helm, Nick and Steve on the bow and Martin in the cockpit. We were being progressively headed to the west, when we wanted to be straight on past Black Rock to Tearaght island a further 120 miles away almost due south .

Blue watch (that's us) came on at 0200 - 0600hrs

With the watch change at night the change over was short and sweet with short exchanges of greeting, briefings on deck lasting less than a minute and an offer of a hot drink.

Having tacked for the sail change, we now headed straight for the coast (Galway I believe) we stuck to it to give us a better angle for the push south.

On the helm I felt nervous with the black silhouettes looming larger and the lighthouse directly ahead in the gloom, clearly it was there for a reason.

Once the angles were improved the call 'ready to tack?' gained the affirming responses from Gareth and Gary on the genoa sheets, and Brett on the main. I proudly called 'Lee Hoe' grabbed a reference in the clouds and we tacked over in the night. Black Rock slipped away off our port and my paranoia of floundering on a wild Irish coastline gave way to an effort to adjust to the new wave angles .

With no moon, stars or other lights, this was a truly dark night. The wind direction was 130degm, to our 190degm rhum line and the F 4/5 was gusting severely creating a sea state that made for a careering washing machine ride downstairs. I felt for Red Watch downstairs trying to sleep.

This is a tough shift. The hours 2 till 6 are not a good time for solving four dimensional spatial reasoning problems on fast forward. The fourth dimension is the human one, a group of folks, with only one thing in common (they keep losing their gloves). having to work together in an unfamiliar environment.

Sleepimg below was nigh on impossible as the boat lurched from spin cycle to tumble dry. This time the shift change was cordial and less relaxed.

Sleepless Steve was the usual peacemaker, emerging from down below like a cork from a bottle.

With a huge grin and in an exaggerated mix of irish and cornish, his calm voice flowed across the cockpit, drowning out the wind, 'Well f*** me, could I sleep?, could I f***?. Like a *u***** spin cycle dauwn there it is. And it's cos of you lot. You wait you bastards, we're on next!'

Greg and I, largely responsible for the rollercoaster ride, grinned back. The point was well made!

I learned a good helming lesson this morning. We had been hammering through the waves with the main hard in, making over 7 knots for much of two hours.

Gareth then took the helm, he let out the main, flattened the boat, kept the course and gained nearly a knot! Living and learning in the Atlantic off Ireland.

Red watch returned 0600- 1200hrs.

Ken Allison,

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