Max’s Blog # 3 – 28 00 South 35 45 East

Sitting half way up a mast at sea you get time to pause and think… the
first thing that pops into your head is… what am i doing up a mast 500
miles from any land, the second is “ooooohh mmyyyyy” it turns out the boat
rolls in the waves far more than it looks from the deck and it really feels
like you are going to be dunked into the water head first as the boat
lurches from side to side in the waves, and the third… i will come back to
the third.

Let’s rewind a few days to talk about the first, why am i up a mast 500
miles from anywhere… I’m sure by now if you have read the last few blogs
sent out by Caspar you will realise that this leg has been sort of eventful
on board Aretha, what started out as another smooth sailing episode where
there is not much to do other than put your feet up, indulge in a spot of
fishing, and work on the tan.. rapidly changed into “my its windy”, “oh shit
willow has cut her head open”, “oh now part of the sail has popped off its
track and i need to climb the first part of the mast to attempt to put it
back in”, later i hear a twanging noise… and a few hours later realise
that one of the main stays that hold the mast up has started to give way.
Then the genoa wont fully roll away and we need to get a ship to ship
transfer mid ocean for parts, hmm and now the engine is overheating all in
say the space of about 24 – 48 hours… it was as you say a filled and
challenging 24-48 hours. While not just dealing with that we are also in
very close race against time to get into port before the next weather system
hits bringing far more dangerous winds and much larger waves then we have
had already. We are literally counting down the hours till it hits the coast
and we need to be in.  What has turned out to be a gentle 1300 mile jog down
the coast from reunion has actually been a marathon starting 750 miles into
this leg, a marathon you can’t just give up and quit because you are tired
as giving up means a long swim home.

I am sure after reading Caspars previous blog many people may have been
filled with the thought of this trip as proof of the terror and potential
recklessness of being in a boat where so many perceived things can go wrong
and i have to say terror is to a strong word, a more appropriate word is
“nervy” as yes it is a little unnerving being on a boat where we have
reinforced the rigging ourselves and have to sail more miles in the next 3
days than the average yacht will sail in a year with our fix in place.
Reckless, is a word I reserve for people who don’t try to live out some of
their dreams, travel and work all the time and give up just because it seems
a bit hard to acheive.

Both Nichola and Caspar are fastidious when it comes to safety on board the
boat and rightly so. Not many people in the sailing world check the rigging
daily, check the engine daily, never go on deck without a life jacket… it’s
funny as given the safety on board I can only assume that people not so in
the know will gasp at the thought of the family going sailing when in my
opinion its far more dangerous to get a lift in a person’s car as I can
guarantee they havent checked the tyres before they set out, they didnt
check the brake fluid, check the lights, oil or water.. Yet you will happily
climb and drive down a road at 60 mph with someone else coming the other way
at 60mph who also hasn’t checked any of the above and hope that one part of
either car doesn’t fail, seize or blow at the wrong time. It’s a perspective
thing, and maybe I have slightly skewed perspective as safety wise i know i
would rather be on the boat with some competent people than on the road with
some of the clowns I have seen driving any day as being in the boat ix
simply in some respects far safer.

I came on board Aretha not only because i wanted to experience some of the
ocean sailing and spend some time with my family but also to be a set of
extra pair of hands on a long passage where i felt extra help might be
needed. Ironically since i have been on board i have actually to a degree
been a spare part, the Aretha team works well and even in the midst of
everything going wrong i can see while I’m an asset, the reality is these
Nichola and Caspar could have coped easily without my extra help if needed.
Just maybe with a little less variety in what’s been on offer for dinner. As
far as crisis go, there was never a crisis on board, all the problems are
tackled one by one, ideas on how to solve are floated around both on board
and to specialists around the world and other boats in the fleet on email
and radio who have all come back promptly with other solutions and
approaches. As i sit here now, the engine is patched and working fine, the
furler is mended, willow is bouncing around with more energy than before. We
have taken plenty of photos of everything and the whole time everyone has
been in good humour no matter what making jokes at times when others might
think inappropriate. it has helped release the tension, losing your head in
a storm really is sort of pointless. Having more than one problem to solve
is also weirdly a benefit, it means you canít over worry about one thing as
worrying really doesn’t do any favours to your stress levels.

I like adventure, and want to get my days skipper qualification at some
point, what you learn in the classroom really only can prepare you for 5% of
the reality of time at sea. Learning comes though experience and the reason
i travel is to get life experience and while this may sound an odd thing to
say i have thoroughly enjoyed this leg even if a bit worried at times.  I’m
sure when i tell tales of old in the pub in years to come i won’t be telling
you how i sailed 2300 miles and just worked on my tan and ate good food, no
i will be telling you about the 1300 mile leg where 750 miles in i became
part of the Aretha team and how I have learnt more about sailing in this leg
then all my ocean miles combined.

The third and final thing i thought when i was up the mast being swung
around is how much like a fair ground ride this is, only difference is i
don’t have to pay £5 for 3 minute ride, i got winched up it for free!! So
for a few minutes while I up there I took a break from the job I was there
to do and all Caspar could hear from below was me shouting ìwoooohoooooooî
as i swung back and forth!!!

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  1. Sincerely hope that you are now in safe waters/harbour and essential repairs are underway. Temperatures in the uk are touching on 20oC so little sun, just a mass of tropical air, not what winters are supposed to be about. Enjoy your rest
    Every best

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