David Scully, watch captain aboard Cheyenne, describes the gybe from hell in the Southern Ocean
The day started with taking the second reef. Then the gybe south. Sounds simple, but you start by unfurling the staysail, drop the chute, raise the solent to give you speed through the gybe, (we cannot gybe the spinnaker), gybe the boat, unfurl the staysail, drop the solent, hoist the spinnaker, and get sailing again. I am ashamed to say that it takes an hour and a half of hard work by the whole crew.
But gybed we were, making good time. Fraser was driving, laughing about the unusually warm temperature. Loud bang as the halyard broke, and suddenly we were flyng the kite alongside the leeward hull. We kept pace on to keep it from hitting the water, and all hands turned to trying to get 2400 sq ft of streaming sailcloth back on board in 30kts of apparent wind.
Somehow we did it. The halyard had, of course, popped back into the mast. It was too rough to start mousing a new one, so we set the solent on an outboard lead, and made the best of it.
Seas are high and chaotic. The boat slams into the waves. The waves slam into the boat. Guillermo was at the wheel when one hit him amidships, knocking him into the back beam and winding him severely. Nic was the next casualty. A wave caught him and drove his head into the binnacle with enough force to lay his cheek open to the bone. I had a midnight surgery going at the nav station with Justin holding the torch, got him steri-stripped together and off to bed. He will be fine, but no prettier when he finishes this trip than when he started.
Add to all this that we are making poor mileage, the olive oil bottle fell off the shelf and smashed on the floor, and that the puzzle of the Cape Horn approach is not getting easier to solve, you will appreciate that life aboard a record setting catamaran is not all beer and skittles. What will the next few days bring? Hopefully, a gybe back onto port and happier days.