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Day 7 Tues 25th Oct 2016

Midday Had a good sleep overnight, but had contact with USCG every 6 hrs as well as Bill, KI4MMZ, in between for instant weather updates to supplement my own downloads. We discussed my options - once storm conditions had passed, head back to Victoria to get damage fixed or keep going if I could deal with the damage myself. In the meantime, try to head W in the short lull before the following system came along. Packed my grab bag with passport etc at one point, and even thought of getting into my survival suit, just to be ready for the worst, but "Nereida" coped and rode the big seas well, despite a lot of shaking and noise.

Lovely bright sunshine now - amazing how a bit of sunshine lifts the spirits!

Every time I think I can begin to get in the series drogue, the wind gets back up to around 30 kt again... Seeing a gust to 37 kt as I'm writing this... Seas are still very big (about 15ft or more) and quite close together (8sec) so it's very rolly - easy to get thrown around as we lurch suddenly.

I'm concerned about the JSD shackle situation - it's a big one, intended to take a big strain when the series drogue is deployed, as now, and I suspect the pin must have gone missing somehow - despite being wired in place. Once I've got the drogue back inboard, I'll be able to see the problem more clearly.

Have found some sailcloth which might be enough for the staysail repair that's now badly needed after a loose section flogged in the strong wind. Also found some Sunbrella canvas I could use as well if I need more cloth. Have needles and thread. Will take a lot of time and effort by hand but first I need to lower the sail and take it down below - definitely something to be done in lesser seas!

11pm LT Well, I finally got on deck around 1pm - seas still quite big and wind around 25 Kt but my concern was to get sailing W as soon as possible - and that meant getting in the JSD first. Without the retrieval line to the end of the bridle, it was going to be difficult.. The only way forward was to use two winches and lines alternately with a series of rolling hitches on the drogue line to bring it inboard bit by bit - slow progress but it worked so long as I used the slack on the drogue line in between when it was taut. When the cones started coming close, I could see just how tattered they were - two days of big seas had taken their toll and reduced the JSD's effectiveness. Normally, the cones go around the winch without a problem but because they wee so tattered, they kept catching on each other and any line nearby, causing big problem. After struggling for some time, I changed tactic and put one turn only on each of two winches. That worked better but took a lot of strength to hold the line from going back when taut - so I ended up putting the line around a third winch and that held it fine but I had to pull on the incoming line to the first winch when slack and simultaneously pull on th last winch to take in the line... Needless to say, that didn't always work out and several times I saw the line slip back - all that effort wasted...

At sunset, I was still nowhere near finshing and saw a freighter approach very slowly and seem to stop close by for a bit before continuing on. I suspected the USCG had asked any ship in the vicinity to come and see if I was OK - I'd missed a scheduled phone call hours ago. I waved at them and gave them the 'thumbs up' to indicate all was fine and carried on. I was surprised not to get a call on VHF16 but later learned the ship was Korean and had poor English. I thought the cones on the line would never finish - it was very slow progress but finally I was clearly near the end and was able to haul the last few, and the chain weight, by hand.

It was getting dark as I tried to raise the main and unfurl the genoa. Another rolling hitch was needed when I over-rode the main halyard in the dark ... and it caught several times on clutches on the mast as I hoisted it... But we're now headed W in pleasant wind of ~20 kt on a broad reach, hoping to avoid the worst of the Low headed N to our S ...

Written by : Jeanne Socrates