Induction Sail - Day 4

Cambridge, 15th March 2001
We cleaned our boat and prepared the other boat for sailing. They're all essentially the same, just a few minor differences - this one had a couple of extra winch handles for example. After setting out, it seemed like the other watch got the brunt of the work; they reefed to start with, then had to do their first racing headsail change to the yankee. Despite a bit of revision the night before, things didn't go very smoothly to plan - mainly because of the maniacal helming from the skipper; keeping the boat right on the wind meant the boat was keeled right over with waves regularly swamping all on deck. Both Cal and Paul were laughing all the way through - for us it was a little tinged with guilt about how lightly we'd got off the day before when we did it.

However, half way through whilst the new sail was still on the deck a larger than normal wave swept across the deck - part of the sail caught on a cleat on the deck and promptly caused a rip in the sail. A little more serious than the mainsail the day before... When we realised what had happened in the stern, Cal promptly steered away making the boat almost flat with no water going anywhere! What a git... then again, we've got to get used to it sometime.

Since the existing sail was still up, they just had to flake out and bag the ripped sail. Then, since they hadn't actually completed a headsail change, they had to do it all over again... As they were doing this sail change, a group of about 5-6 dolphins joined the boat and kept with us for about half an hour or so - quite a wonderful sight.

I think at that point I got to do some helming again, whilst they were doing the second headsail change, and after they'd finished it was our watch's turn to do a headsail change. It was all going quite well until we raised the sail, and discovered that on of the hanks was upside down - lower the sail again, redo that hank and raise. Well, almost perfect. However, our bogey of sail bags was to haunt us again - after looking for a sail bag that the other watch had already got out for us (but not told us about), we managed to bag the sail - only to discover that we'd put the sail in the wrong bag... We had wondered why it was a little big for the sail!

Finally the only real job left was shaking out the first reef in the mainsail, which Cal took me and Jenny through - it was slightly different that before since we going with the wind. All that was left was to do our final mooring of the week, de-rig, clean the boat, shower and change - all in about an hour. The reason for the rush? The traditional last night out on the town... Quick trip to the pub, followed by a meal and a trip to the legendary club Jesters. I'm not sure how rude I can be about the place on this site, but I have to admit that I've never before seen such a high concentration of actually ugly women and desperately sad blokes in one place. After a few red bulls to stop me literally falling asleep we hit the dance floor. Charlie looked as though he'd got lucky (?) at this point, when he was pointed out by a couple of women and dragged over to talk to them, but thankfully he managed to bail out, and deny the whole thing... Nicky and Andy were leading the way - the latter actually bailing out entirely first back to the boat. Anyway, bed was finally reached, with a slightly more relaxed start the next morning.

After breakfast was tidying up the boat, removing the damaged mailsail and packing up. After filling in our feedback forms (how do you spell excellent again?!) and a quick chat from Mandy about the whole challenge that was about it bar the crew and individual photos.

So my opinions about the whole challenge now? I think I know a lot more about the kind of things it will involve - I don't think I was being unreasonable before about my expectations, but now I've got names for my fears. A very steep learning curve was the whole point of the week, and it certainly was. I think we were very lucky in terms of the skipper and mate - very different management styles, but complimented each other quite well. It was very odd being completely distanced from normal life - we had no idea about current events; but knew exactly what was going on in the current race. From speaking to Cal and Paul we also got a few insights into the characters of the current races; skippers and crew volunteers alike. I was pleased to essentially get over the sea sickness aspect, although it will always be there I suspect - it will be good to get some longer sails in to see how I'm affected. I know a bit more about what kit works, and what to leave at home next time, and I think there is only one phrase that sums up the rest of the challenge. Bring it on!