All change again

reposted from a few days ago

Well here we are, cruising again. Late yesterday afternoon we were racing alongside Derry, neck and neck, less than .2 of a mile apart. We know Derry is one of the best teams when it comes to sailing upwind, so we were expecting the close racing to spur us both on, and to help close the distance between us and GB before all of us reached the ever important scoring gate.
Then suddenly we saw Derry’s sails were all a flutter – they seemed to tack, or no, it was a heave too, and a complete pirouette, then they dropped their yankee, reefed the main even further, and set off down wind. Obviously something was very wrong – and in the middle of it all Eric had a quick VHF conversation with Sean that confirmed there was an issue with the forestay, nothing we could do to help.
This was the 3rd forestay issue to occur in just this one race – first Jamaica and then PSP having to suspend racing and head for a safe port. Not good, with the worst of the bashing still expected off the coast of Taiwan! Eric spent most of the next half hour or so up on the bow, getting liberally soaked as Henrietta continued to surge through the navy blue sea. He was inspecting our forestay fittings, and trying to think of a way to make things even stronger and safer. Apart from having a spare halyard from the top of the mast attached to the bow cleat as a back up, as recently directed by Clipper, there didn’t seem much else we could do. We continued sailing, but it was beginning to feel like an empty race, with no Derry and no DLL to spar with. Port watch went below, to get a bit of rest before the first night watch. so we on starboard watch were surprised to see them pouring back up through the companionway just a few minutes later, led by a sombre looking Eric. It was clear that something serious was happening – even Morgan and Heather decided this was probably not something to be laying bets about as we waited for everyone to come up. Actually it was a relief to hear that the race had been cancelled, as we feared a serous injury might have occured on Derry or another boat. But the sudden end of the race left us all feeling flat and frustrated – of course the safety of the fleet is the most important thing, but we had been working hard and very focused, and were expecting a very long race to QingDao.
So it’s all change – back into our system of half watches, 2 hours on and 6 off most of the day. ANd we get to visit Hong Kong, and hopefully we will still race from their to QingDao, though it is not clear how that will fit into the schedule. ALl the chocolatey treats we bought in SIngapore and had squirelled away for the cold bashing past Taiwan are coming out now, as we expect to replace them in Hong Kong, so we are exceptionally well fed. ANd there have been a few signs of life at last – a single red-footed booby was soaring and diving around us just as the race was called, hunting the flying fish we scare up with an amazing display of aerobatics. And last night we had dolphins – fist we just heard the ‘poof’ of their breathing alongside, and then rather than seeing the dolphins themselves, we saw little phosphorescent jets as they spouted near the bow.
We are actually sailing again now, as it turns out we don’t have enough fuel to mtor all the way to HongKong. ANd once the wind got light, we were allowed to raise a yankee and shale out the reef from the main, so today has been a beautiful peaceful day of sailing. I’m actually mother, and after our Mexican day delights, somehow with the reduced watch system I get a full 20 hours off before I’m back on watch at 4pm tomorrow. Don’t tell anyone – it must be a mistake!

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