Kite flying

Since my last update I’ve had a day of mother watch – a good thing for me as has allowed my wrist, injured somehow on the helm during our kitemare wipeouts a few days ago, to recover a bit. It is amazing how many times a day I am reminded how very useful opposable thumbs really are, now that it hurts to use the one on my left hand!
As far as I could tell frm down in the galley, yesterday was a pleasant day, with sunshine, making good progress with white sails only. Old Poultrey (now generally referred to as ‘The Chicken’ onboard HL, much to the confusion of some new team members) appeared on our port hip, just after a beautiful red sunrise, and we looked forward to a day honing our speed against theirs. By afternoon we lost sight of them, so it must have worked OK for us. In the evening, we were finally able to raise the A3 (heavy weight spinnaker), and at last, we managed to do so without a hitch. God news for us mothers, as Ryan and I did not have to interrupt the baking of chocolate cake for James’s birthday (today) to help retrieve and repack the kite, as has happened too many times lately. Nobody has yet managed to guess that the cake was made without eggs or butter; mayonnaise, of all things, substituting for both. Sounds horrible but tastes delicious! We are extra short handed right now as a nasty stomach bug has joined the ‘man flu’ (cold) making its way around the crew. Back on deck this morning our watch was four people – one on the helm, one trimming, one grinding, one ready the release the vang if we get overpowered in a gust – no spare hands at all. The other watch was in the same situation through the night, so Eric is spending a lot more time on deck and on the helm than usual. We’re flying the A3 again with the wind gusting up above 30 knots – surfing the small waves at speeds often above 20, and hovering in the mid teens a lot of the time. It’s fun, but with the gusts we do sometimes get overpowered and held down on our side until we can manage to release the vang and the sheet. It’s definitely a bit nerve wracking. Leg oners will be pleased to hear that we have become MUCH better at not flogging the kite, and have not ripped out a single stanchion so far this race (I’m touching wood as I type this). it’s still sometimes a tough call as to whether there is TOO musch wind or not. The other night in similar conditions Nick. getting a bit stressed by the potential for disaster, sent me down to wake Eric and ask if we should drop the kite. TO my ‘we’re getting gusts up to 34 knots and Nick wants to know if we should drop or not’ the gist of Skip’s reply was. ‘It’s up to you, but the kite can take it, you know those wind instruments lie, and you haven’t wiped out yet have you.’ Loosely translated as ‘keep it up we’re finally making some progress’, I think. This morning we’ve had a couple of wipeouts, no doubt obvious to the watch below, so Morgan popped his head up just before watch change to ask if we’d be changing sails or not. Eric (on the helm) responded with ‘No way, this is too much fun’ – no need for translation there.
So we’re sill flying along, with gobs of now cold spray occasionally dousing the trimmer on the rail, but otherwise nice conditions and hazy sunshine. THere’s still plenty of bird life – I’m told that during the night a bird (or a DLL drone, who knows?) almost landed on Eric’s shoulder, it was so interested in watching what he was doing at the helm. So despite our various lurgies, we’re having some great sailing and plenty of laughter. THe Pacific has not been nearly as gloomy and grey as forecast, so far.

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