Poled out perils

It’s been a more mellow day to day. First thing this morning we were told about Andrew’s overboard ordeal on Derry – sobering for all of us, especially knowing how wild and cold it has been out there these last days. IN other news we’ve had a bit of a shift around in the watches, with me and Chris swapping places, so I am now on starboard watch. because they have been short of all conditions helms, even though they are the larger watch. So you will encounter a whole new cast of characters in my stories for the rest of this race. (Unless of course we switch again).
So with my new starboard watch buddies we poled out the yankee 2 this morning, which has us sailing ‘goose winged’, the yankee on the opposite side of the boat to the main. We have been rocking and rolling down wind ever since.
It has been a bright sunny day, with albatrosses and occasional squalls. THe poled out sail tends to make people nervous, as we all know that if you come up too close to the wind and back the yankee (get the wind on the wrong side of it), you can tear the pole and its track right out of the mast, so that the pole becomes an arrow and the sail a bowstring, aimed straight at the mainsail or the mast itself. Not good! So we always have a crew member sitting by the yankee sheet, ready to spin it off the winch if the sail does back – but in all the 32,000 miles we have sailed, we’ve never actually had to do it. Unfortunately, Morgan said that out loud today, and sure enough, within the hour the helm sailed too high, the sail backed, and Kevin B. released the active sheet. We were all relieved to see how easily and smoothly the yankee gybed to the other side, and no harm was done.
It has been a bright sunny day, with albatrosses and occasional squalls. Every time a squall approached, we gybed the yankee to the same side as the main to make the driving easier. And then when the squall passed, we gybed the yankee back. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But in fact each time we pull the sail from one side of the boat to the other there are miles of yankee sheet to grind in, with 2,3, or 4 of us working the coffee grinders. Exhausting! I think it was some kind of initiation test from my new tribe – I hope I passed it and they don’t start throwing their trash at me.
After another hazy sunset, lighting up the sails and the wave crests, and the Laysan and black-legged albatrosses we’ve had for company all afternoon, we’re expecting another dark night as the cloud cover increases. Helming with the poled out yankee is always challenging – it’ll be even more so in the pitch dark as the waves roll us around. Wish us luck!

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