As Robin repairs his battens, he tells us why we won't be receiving a xmas card from him 18/12/06

Date of logMonday 18 December 2006
Latitude 44 57 South Longitude 081 32 East
Miles To Fremantle1,771 nm
Average Speed In 24 Hours9.7 knots
Distance In 24 Hours232.8 nm

Saga Insurance ETA into Fremantle – Boxing Day or 27 December

A frustrating day yesterday on Saga Insurance as between 0900 and 1730 we had no mainsail set as I was trying to repair the battens. Today has started no better. There is insufficient material to make splints any longer, so the Rigg system of putting rope through the battens to hold them together is the only solution available. Using Spectra rope, very strong but thin, they have lasted a few days because the fibreglass and carbon ends of the battens have just sawn through the rope. So I decided to try the same system with thicker rope. It makes it harder for the ends to get at the rope itself but whether it will last very long remains to be seen. It won’t help the shape much, but it might stop the battens breaking through their pockets along the sail and creating a serious obstacle to lowering or hoisting as they get caught in the runners or shrouds. Not might get caught in them, do get caught in them!

First thing this morning, the second and third battens are out of their pockets again, broken clear and caught behind the shrouds, so the mainsail has had to come down again whilst I see what can be done about it. And each bit of additional damage has its effect on the whole sail. Saga Insurance is going to need quite a lot of work in Fremantle I am afraid.

If you do not understand sails then you won’t appreciate just what a huge handicap this is. It means I cannot get a decent shape to the sail and often, mechanically, I cannot raise or lower the sail without a massive amount of juggling, which I dare not risk at night. Add to that, the time lost whilst the sail is down, such as speed dropped from 11 knots to 7 knots, and I am trying to think of ways to achieve some sort of solution, and it really is surprising I am not even further behind the leaders.

1800 miles to go, not a decent forecast, and each day sees less time spent sailing and more spent on repairs.

What is not easy is the motion these rather flat bottomed and wide hulls have. A small angle of heel seems a lot more and when she is thrown by a wave you do need to be holding onto something or you can go flying and that can be extremely painful. Keeping your footing when walking along the deck is not easy either as the motion is very jerky at times. Crawling is not a bad way to travel in these circumstances, and at least your centre of gravity is low. Then occasionally she will bury the bow and a tsunami comes belting back along the deck and would easily knock you off your feet if it caught you. The answer is to jump above it or dive below where it cannot get you, remembering to close the hatch fast.

Freeze dried pasta bolognaise last night. Its very good but lacks a bit of zing so I added some Lime Pickle. A great improvement.

Now Christmas cards. It has been a bit difficult this year so if you have not received one from me it is because:-

1. I never normally send you one.
2. I do not have your address here.
3. You didn’t send me one last year.
4. I’ve decided not to send you one this year.
5. Meant to but plain forgot.

Thats all there is time for, got a batten or five to repair.