If a girl would have had a bowl of pretzels she would have cried into them. But as I don’t actually like pretzels a gin and tonic had to do. After 11 days into our journey and less than 200 nautical miles from our destination the mood on the boat has come crashing down. I haven’t actually cried, but I still could.
Like most sad drinkers I need to share.
It started out a as great day. The mood on the boat was up. The boat was sailing at 7 nautical mile per hour average, the auto pilot has been working for 2 days, the new sail configuration meant good sleep and based on current projections we should arrive in Barbados by late afternoon tomorrow.
Tomorrow we will have crossed the ocean.
Tomorrow it will be done and dusted and we will get to see scenery other than blue, grey or white.
Tomorrow 2038 nautical miles can be ticked off and popped into the “finished tray”
Each day Captain Underpants has taken on the role to calculate the numbers. We know how fast, how far and what we need to do to get to land in daylight. A necessary requirement for arrival at Barbados. Based on his projections of past current and future winds we are all hopeful we should make our destination without drama. The past 11 days the wind has been a constant 15 to 25 knots and right behind us coming from the East. Without deviation. We knew if the wind dropped off we had our brand new Atlantic crossing spinnaker as our get out of gaol card and if the winds changed to the side there was still the option of going up the main to get the currently stranded haylard. Our final insurance policy was not a much discussed option but our boat is laden down with 500 litres of fuel since we have only turned our motors on when reefing a few times and for a very short stint throughout the main down drama. Hell we can turn the motors on and motor if we really had to.
Civilization and sand seemed so close I could almost taste it.
Then all that consistency in the circumstances changed.
The ever constant wind started to die down. Each one of us watched the wind dial creep ever slowly down enough to allow the Captain to give the go ahead on putting up the Spinnaker. It took an hour or two and the boat speed was going down quickly but he was not willing to put the big sail up until the wind was light enough. His cautious nature remains constant.
It is here I need to tell you that we haven’t actually sailed with our spinnaker before this point, we have only had her up but a few moments testing her out prior to our arrival in Gibraltar. To compensate for our lack of spinnaker experience, there was much discussion between the Captain and Captain Carole on how to best do the whole thing. Due to the fact that the main sail isn’t working it was important to have a plan B to protect the spinnaker for when bringing her down. It was agreed to use the genoa to act as a shield when the time came for bringing down what is the sail equivalent to the King of Sails.
Our spinnaker went up magnificently. There was an immediate impact on our boats speed. The speed went from 4 or 5 knots to 9 to 12 knots. Whoo Hoo! Oh Hail the King of Sails.
Gael and I were watching the speed and both of us were salivating at the prospect of such heady speeds to take us through the day. In just a moment of having our sail up the Captain called for us to release the sheets to give the king more room. Oh NO. Our spinnaker sheets, brand new red for the starboard and green for the port side were not long enough. They were out as far as they could go. We estimate they are a good 4 meters shy of being the right length. All that planning and careful measuring and checking had failed at the final moment. The ropes just weren’t long enough.
Bring her down says the Captain.
Down came the sail and down came the mood of the boat. Just like that!
No spinnaker means no tomorrow afternoon landfall.
No spinnaker means cruising along at 4 or 5 knots until the wind returns.
No spinnaker means for all our planning, calculating and speculation we are back to the beginning. What we plan is not important. What matters is what the sea and wind gives us and we can only deal with it as best we can. The Captain tells me what matters is that we arrive safely, with the boat in the same condition as when we left. Being there in less than two days or in another five really doesn’t matter.
Fair play says I, then ask “can you please pass me that glass”
PS maybe I need to see land soon… Don’t you think?