Crew member on GBR9793T Cheeki Rafiki
Red watch came on 1800 - 2200hrs
As the wind and sea gradually built from the southeast we held our course as southerly as possible. The nr3 went up at 1900 hrs, followed by a first reef in the main at 2000hrs. Sleeping was seriously challenging with the lurching of the boat and the banging of the boom.
Blue watch came on 2200 - 0200hrs
With the first reef in and the boat seriously powered up, Gareth explained how the head sail should be set as a tight, straight blade.
The head sail blade went in, removing the aerofoil profile, we retained our stability and pointing ability, and used the aerofoil in the main sail for the bulk of the power source that raced us into the cacophony of noise that was the night.
Tonight, in an amusing interlude, blue watch examined whether the situation was as real and awesome as it seemed. The currents in the peculiar timed porridge may well have been responsible for the conversation reminiscent of chapters in 'the hitch hikers guide to the galaxy'.
We all felt better, with the notion that we were innocents conned into a bizarre tv show. We quickly realised and became nervous that the parallels with the tv reality show big brother are peculiarly strong..
Here on the big brother boat, a group of disparate, misfits are regularly set tasks, the reward for which is further progress towards the place they started from.
A little sleep deprivation and confinement in a plastic box without a lid are added to make the experience more entertaining to the unknown and disinterested audience..
The boat mates are given a world that leans over and wobbles and a language so incomprehensible that even the welsh have discarded it. It uses words like heads, header, and head sail, none of which mean head.
In comparison, The organisers running the show get lots of sleep and speak very eloquently hiding their media mogul lifestyles behind a little shack of an office in Cowes high Street.
For the first hour we mused the best time to go to second reef. We wanted to keep the power on and with the wind rising a over 20knots the 2nd reef went in at 2300hrs.
We eased the head sail out of its 'blade configuration to give more forward thrust now the main was weakened. The motoring analogy is that we remained well and truly in 4WD but in such strong winds we needed the turbo to the front wheels only.
As we sailed toward the low the winds built up as ESE 20 - 25 gusting 30, confirming the excellent timing of the decisions to reef.
My recollection, helming for nearly 2 hours of this demanding night are the occasional friendly stars that seemed to appear briefly through the heavy clouds just when I needed them. Very briefly on one occasion I stupidly found I was using the mast light, my mistake became apparent when my sleep starved little brain twigged that it was odd to have the star mimicking the movement of the boat!
It is magical sailing in these conditions as patches of the sea lights up in multitudes of colours. I don't claim to know the scientific process behind these blooms. They are especially awesome and for me occasionally spooky.
The sea conditions were challenging and for those 'hiking' on the side of the boat the incessant violent soaking rapidly cease to be amusing and this adds to the other challenges of living in these conditions. The cold and damp penetrate the strongest spirit.
We were now 35 miles west of black rock, off the Irish coast.
Our Plan A was simple, keep pushing south on the SE wind then reach across on the southerly if it comes.
Red watch returned 0200- 0600hrs
Ken Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device