Firstly- apologies for the lack of communications onboard. Katie has found herself busy eating and sleeping in some sort of watch system (something she doesnt usually get much of!) whilst Hannah has had to make had to make her own cups of coffee (that is something the crew usually do :)...where have they all gone?
With the prep time between the arrival of our steed back in the UK from her Atlantic adventures and the start of this particular histroic race very limited, rudder repairs and general maintanance were of top priority to ger her sailing again. But things haven't been running as smoothly as anticpated. Just 48hrs before race start we saw bluQube hoisted from the water at Endeavour Qauy for some emergency keel structure repairs, we are pretty flushed just to be competing at this stage!
So as we made our way to the race start we were still calibrating autopilots (yes- we were the red boat spinning circles in the eastern solent - no its not coz we are women drivers!) we were challenged with problemo number one - wind instruments. What we had anticpated to be a straight vane for vane swap to solve our problems turned out not to be so. No exuses for not having checked this one before we left (except perhaps trying to ensure the keel was going to stay attached) but it seems a shorted wind 'pod' is our problem. The irony of it all? - Katie chucked the spare pod off the boat the morning of the race during Hannahs somewhat hell fired weight saving effort. To her credit she did shift off 44 litres of unrequired bottled water left over from the Atlantic.... although in hindsight of problem number two we could well have put the spare Evian to good use!
Enter problem number two. Some have renamed this particular edition of this race the 'Slownet'. Crew members have been ruthlessly ditched from larger boats, victims of other hellish weight saving efforts. Our own vast array of tools were saved only by Katie's hording tendancies and 'what if' attitude. The 12v hair dryer was sacrificed however! What we didn't all expect was the slightly winder weather we encountered off Start Point on Day 2. To counter this, given our double handed situation, one would normally introduce the services of the water ballast to give us the effect of 5 other crew members sitting on the rail. So with scoop down and valves in position the on switch was pressed. We waited for that familiar buzzing sound but a gremlin was camping out in the system. Of course it is one of those problems that cannot be identified, these things are sent to try us! We have considered many solutions to overcome this problem including hitching our spare manual bilge pump into the system to pump in the water - genius but different hose diameters put pay to that. Our other option would be pouring those 44litres of spare Evian water in the saltwater ballast tanks had they not ben victims to the weight saving mission. We settled on reefing further and just as we were sorted, we were presented with a number 3 jib which no longer wished to remain in the headfoil. Its never easy!
It was at this point that we suffered a very sad and tragic loss. Understandably, single handed sailors become very attached to many items onboard their boat. Often, objects such as kettles and bean bags, inanimate objects, become friends as they deliver warmth and comfort in desolate and lonely places. One of the fondest objects must be the bucket, or 'the ladies' as she is known onboard. Today, she was undertaking her usual services when during the general scoop-swill and clean procedure disaster struck. Underestimating the speed bluQube was making, and suffering an overfill during the 'scoop' process, the bucket was dragged under by the water. Katie clung grimly onto the lanyard which slowly inch by inch slipped from her one handed grip, dragging her hand across the rough non slip surface and Katie closer the wavey leeward sea. At this point 'the ladies' in a moment of self sacrifice said 'Leave me Katie, save yourself' and considering the chances of going overboard and the effect the drag was having on bluQube's speed, Katie was left with no choice but to let go of the last inch of lanyard.
Bad things happen in 3's and we have had at least 3 dramas so some luck would be nice...please :)
In other news, Hannah has become proficent at weilding a deck brush and poking weed off the rudders whilst Katie has mastered the mind over matter required to eat freeze dried food in large quantities and is even beginning to like it! Post Fastnet, Katie and Hannah will be publishing their 'Guide to Anchoring a Figaro in 50m of water..... DONT!'
So despite the problems and the not so great race position at this stage, we are enjoying ourselves and doing our best to claw back some places. The show isn't over until the fat lady sings afterall.