The great thing (usually) about long sailing voyages is seeing how the team dynamics of crew develop. On Maunie we're very lucky to have four very competent and experienced sailors aboard but over the days we've developed into a very good team; people work to their strengths and support each other even when off watch, coming on deck uncomplainingly when needed . Yesterday was, in many ways, quite a challenging day but the teamwork saw us through it.
Things started fairly positively with the wind filling in and allowing us to fly the Parasailor from lunchtime with good teamwork to set it safely. Almost as soon as it was up, we caught a fish – a European Barracuda about 70cm long - and new team roles came into place. Rich despatched it with a shot of vodka to the gills, Fergus gutted and filleted it, Graham skinned it and Dianne cooked a delicious fish curry with it in the evening.
Our challenged began in the late afternoon when the wind began to drop a bit and a towering black cloud approached us from behind. Suddenly the wind was almost gone, with a terrible,confuse wave pattern that left us yawing wildly, the Parasailor threatening to tie itself into a knot. The foredeck crew, Rich and Fergus on this occasion, leapt into action and started to lower the sail just as the most intense rainstorm hit us. The snuffer 'sock' which pulls down from the top of the sail to gather it into a 15m sausage, somehow inflated when wet into what Rich described as a giant condom so Dianne and Graham in the cockpit were treated to the hilarious spectacle of him pummelling what looked like an inflatable elephant into a bag half its size. The sail was finally tamed and the mainsail hoisted, all the while in the heaviest rain imaginable – the rain was very cold, too, falling from the top of the very tall cloud, but we used it to full advantages for hair washing.
Conditions calmed down as night fell but the big wind shifts meant we had to gybe a few times, an operation involving removing and re-rigging the spinnaker pole for the foresail and the preventer rope on the mainsail, so lots of foredeck work with torches and safety harness taking about 20 minutes each time. Finally, in the middle of the night Fergus, on watch, alerted the skipper that there was a green navigation light to port and it appeared to be closing towards us. We identified the boat on AIS, called her on the VHF a few times with no response and had to take avoiding action – we would have been on collision course otherwise – amazing in the middle of the ocean to meet another boat, let alone have to alter course to avoid it!
So the Maunie crew are pushing as hard as we can, though we're still not in particularly brilliant wind conditions. Meanwhile, the Maunie shore crew are keeping us up to speed with what's happening on the Fleet Viewer and Steve Gamman continues to check the weather files from mid-Wales. "Go North", he says, so we're trying to do that now.
As I write the team roles have changed again – we've just caught an 8lb Dorado so it'll be fish for supper again
Best wishes from the Maunie Team