Steve brings out the Sikaflex and sail repair kit on board Toe in the Water

Read the latest from on board Toe in the Water (currently in 17th position):

Well, quite a lot has happened. Every time I have tried to go down to write, something else has happened.

Last night I was about to do some filming and send a blog when, as I was fiddling with the camera, the mother of all squalls came through. We broached and I dealt with it in the usual manner and went back downstairs. Ten minutes later there was a sickening bang, the boat came upright, and there was a papery rustling sound which was my gennaker, or two bits of it.

Gennakers are large sails that fly off the bowsprit, and have a bolt rope that goes up the leading edge that the sail flies from. You can rotate it by pulling on a piece of endless string to roll the sail away, just like a kitchen blind! Anyway, the bolt rope had broken, which meant the sail took all of it’s load, and the head pulled off it. Not a big repair, but in an important place.

It took ages to get it back on deck, it is quite a big thing on your own at roughly twenty five metres by twelve by twenty three! It did not want to go into it’s bag either, but I couldn’t leave it loose on deck! The only problem is that it’s about three feet around at the moment, so it won’t go down the forehatch by a long shot! The worst of it is that in between the squalls it’s the sail I really need. I delayed putting it up as it is eight or nine years old, and I didn’t want to obliterate it in a squall which is precisely what I did. Poor old sail, but it will live again. Suit man with needle and thread (Me in this case).

My track must have looked like the Starsky and Hutch’s as I sailed downwind to tidy up the mess, then more upwind with the solent, and then downwind again with a different gennaker which is just not right for the point of sail I wanted, and then back to the solent! I’m surprised I didn’t get a call from the race office to find out what I was up to!

I had a Sikaflex spree as well. One of my computer screens bounced out, and the window above my bed started pouring in water, which is OK here, but not good when it gets cold. They got stuck back and sealed up, and I glued up the thing that holds the microphone for the VHF. It had made a scuff mark on my generator panel where it has been swinging back and forth for three weeks! I don’t know why Sikaflex doesn’t sponsor a boat, after all, the entire marine industry would fall apart without the stuff, and I must admit, so would most of our house and our cars!

Luckily, it’s not as warm as it has been, so it is easier to sleep and you do have an appetite sometimes – I am eating all of the heavy things first becase I am really starting to resent all of the extra weight! It also means that I have to start wearing things on deck too. I’m doing pretty well in that line, we are sponsored by Guy Cotten, a French clothing manufacturer who had the faith in us to offer their support when it was by no means clear we were going to get to the start line, and they have done us proud. Their kit is fantastic, and I seem to have most of their range and multiples of most things here on board, and some special items just for the Vendee. The only downside is when I need to get myself on deck in a hurry I am to be found doing my Lawrence Lewelyn-Bowen impression, finger on lips, wondering what I should put on!

I had a sort through the food as well, after the strange smell from the back of the boat became stronger and stronger. I found the source – six dozen eggs, and each half dozen box had a broken one in it. You can imagine what that was like in the heat that we’ve had. I had to take them on deck, cut open the bags so the eggs went over the side, where I’m sure they’ll be gobbled up by the well known I’vegotnosenseofsmell fish (Latin name). Then I had to wash the bags out so I could put them in the bin. Vile. Still, now the boat smells a bit better!

I must go now and do some sail repairs, or at least make a plan for when it gets lighter and dryer on deck so I can do it later. I can get all of my materials together at any rate, and then I have to do some filming!