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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Incidents and accidents

Sciroco scuttles off and we set about raising the sails again which I had hurriedly taken down when Tom came to check our leak. I had dropped it in some what of a hurry and although I took little notice, I did clock that some of the plastic bits that hold the main sail to the mast had slipped out as the sail came down. By now the wind had freshened, as us nautical types say, and the sea had become decidedly lumpy. Raising the sail on a Jaguar has to be carried out stood by the mast, on top of the coach house. This is a job for Cpt Col as Jackie tries to hold the boat heading into the wind.

It's a rolly polly ride and now I discover what the problem is with these bits that keep the sail hooked into the mast. Somehow we've lost a stopper and it turns out that about half of these "cars" have slipped out. Hanging on tightly with one hand around the mast I feed each of these "cars" back into the mast with the other, whilst hauling the halyard to the main sail with the other hand. Hang on that makes three arms, but that's what I needed. The sail went up a foot at a time and beat about wildly, whipping one way and the other on this bucking bronco of a boat. After a real struggle the main sail reached the top of the mast, I cleated it off and returned exhausted to the safety of the cockpit.

We unfurled the jib and once more we are underway and heading for Paxos which is still some 20 miles away. In about 2 hours we've covered about two miles. We spend the next four hours tacking, but we're getting nowhere fast. I check the GPS but it keeps giving me the same reading. I turn it off and back on again thinking it's maybe hanging like computers do, but no, it comes back on with the same position. Looking back at where we've come from we seem to have hardly moved. A quick calculation on the chart tells us that at this rate we'll be lucky to make Paxos by tomorrow never mind today.

We decide to switch from sailing to motoring, at least that way we can head straight towards our destination. Unfortunately the waves and the wind are pounding the bows of Othoni and try as we may we can't make more than 2 or three knots. At this rate we wil not be in Paxoe for another ten hours.
Sciroco Sciroco this is Othoni, over, Go ahead Othoni, we have decided to head for our home port of Patricas as we won't make Laka with our present speed before midnight, over, OK keep in touch Othoni, will do Sciroco, out.

It's a hard slog through very choppy seas and we're still six hours from Platarias. We've put away the jib but the mainsail is still up and is perhaps slowing us down. We need to lower it but if we do we're concerned that it will fall out of the mast and end up in the sea. So time for an improvised repair.

I find a harness, as it's very rough, and clamber up to the mast, one hand for the boat and one for me. At the mast I use a spare halyard to wind around the mast to act as a temporary stop for the sail when we drop it. Once that's done I drop the main and the fix works, I get back to the cockpit and we gain an extra knot.

We're still bouncing along when we hear a loud mechanical noise behind us. We whirl round to see the kedge anchor chain, which was sitting in a plastic bucket on the back of the boat paying itself out behind us and threatening to snag the propellor. This could spell disaster and I make a grab for it. Slowly and carefully I haul it back into the boat with no prop wrap problems, talk about incidents and accidents.