Day 41 towards Cape Horn - Now for the wind instrument up the mast...

m_View from top spreader 01Dec2012

Saturday 1st December 2012

Yet another lovely sunny day, with easy sailing in slowly-reducing SE Trades - but I spent a long time climbing the mast early this morning,. Alarm had been set to wake me up ... checked bag once more to see I hadn't forgotten anything, put on some long trousers and shoes for protection, then went on deck to heave to before the sun got too high.... It wasn't quite the pre-dawn start I'd intended - got the timing of dawn wrong, clearly - but it was only just after sunrise.

Reduced the genoa, and then heaved to... Seas weren't completely calm but hoped I'd manage.... Donned both my climbing harness, with the safety line to the gri-gri, and my deck harness which also gives some chest support & to which other lines were attached, for tying me securely to the mast top when I arrived there, so I could safely work on exchanging the wind vane unit. Fixed the 'gri-gri' to the spinnaker halyard and started up... back down after a couple of steps- the gri-gri wasn't sliding up smoothly - I'd caught the wire in with the halyard - an easy fix and then started up again. Quite quickly, I realised that this was NOT going to be easy - not that I'd expected it to be, but not only was there swell causing rocking from side to side, often quite a lot, but every so often, we'd pitch & toss, fore and aft - usually quite violently and I really had to cling on tight... My toolbag got caught as I tried to negotiate my way up, over and around the head of the stays'l...

I had to choose my moment carefully for letting go with one hand to quickly slide the gri-gri up the halyard as far as it would go up, for each step taken. I eventually got to the bulky radar reflector - had a big problem getting around that & nearly gave up at that point ... Had one of several long rests once I'd sorted that out - it made a very useful seat! Slowly, with lots of clinging on for dear life with the sudden & frequent violent motion, that got worse, the further up I climbed, I finally got to the head of the genoa, where I held on to the very top pair of steps, 3 ft or so below the top, designed to be stood on when working at the mast top. My legs were able to wrap around the genoa fitting - in fact, I 'rode' the head of the genoa rather like a 'bucking bronco' with the motion at times... but at least it gave some security, with my legs adding in to my arms to hold me securely. That would be gone when going higher... my only hold would be around the mast itself, with nothing to pull myself up with... I'd already found it very difficult getting a line round the mast at this point - thinking I might be able to make use of it to get up higher and also ready for later on when I'd need to be strapped close to the mast for safe working up there.

I caught sight of a white-rumped dark storm petrel, flitting about the waves close to the boat as I pondered what to do next... The problem, now that I was right up near the top, was how to get myself safely further up, in order to stand on the top steps and work safely... there were simply no hand holds for me to hang onto as I mounted further .... Up to now, steps had also formed my main handholds (when I wasn't frantically clinging on with arms around the mast when motion got really violentl!) - but there were no more steps higher up, just the smooth mast- the wind vane was fustratingly close. I spent some time up there, trying to figure out a way to get higher, unwilling to admit defeat after all my effort getting this far, but finally, seeing absolutely no way, I had to start coming down...no easier than going up & with the added factor that I was noticing my sore arms, fingers and muscles ... I also had to make sure that I'd slid the gri-gri far enough down or I'd find it impossible for my foot to reach down to the next step! I took several rests and on one - that nice,secure, radar reflector seat! - with one arm wrapped around the mast itself, I managed to get out my camera and take a couple of shots of the deck below.. (To be posted!) On down .. it seemed never-ending... until finally, I was not far from the deck - at which point, my legs started shaking like mad and I just made it to the deck with difficulty - the adrenalin must have stopped working!!

Disappointed, I made my way down below for some much-needed water and, after getting us sailing properly again, spent the rest of the day trying to recover from too much sun and exertion - lots of drinks and lots of long naps.... I'm definitely feeling bruised, tired and damaged! I can obviously manage without the wind indicator - but it makes life a great deal simpler having the instant display... and there have been times (like a strong Southern Ocean Front expected) when linking it to my autopilot has been extremely useful .. Oh well .. c'est la vie!! If only I had another base that it plugs into, I could rig up the new one somewhere else, maybe - but I don't...

Not much else to report... except, unusually, tonight there's a 167ft long fishing vessel not far away - the 'Keifuku Maru No.2' ... the first vessel nearby for quite a time...

24hr DMG at 3pm: 112 n.ml. (despite being hove to for 3 hours) Cape Horn LH 3568 n.ml.away & our nearest land: Pitcairn Island, 978 n.ml. to the SSW. Easter Island 1057 n.ml. away to SSE & the Gambier Islands are 1090 n.ml away to SW. We're presently about 2470 n.ml. due W of Lima, Peru.

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For my daily position and track:

See my website's 'Travels' page - go to www.svnereida, open 'Travels', then click on "Where is Nereida?"

http://www.exactearth.com/media-centre/recent-ship-tracks/tracking-nereida/ - courtesy 'exactEarth' using their polar-orbiting satellites -, especially good nearer the poles, i.e. should be good when in the Southern Ocean.

Written by : Mike

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