Seven O’Clock

August 21st 2018

There is someone else aboard the boat now – a nice young lady (a pretty but homely blonde is the way I imagine her). Each morning she tells me: “It’s Seven O’clock” – or whatever time it happens to be. Whatever else I  imagine about this situation, I leave to your imagination…

Heaven knows how it’s taken me so long to discover this feature of my phone but there she was again this morning, telling me it was seven O’clock. It is now nearly twelve and I cannot believe how much has happened in the last five hours.

If anyone asks me “What do you do all the time?” I shall point them to this.

For a start, at seven O’clock this morning it was raining – hard. It was also blowing 17knots which is about as much as you want with the light running sails up. The plotter was showing us belting along at between six and seven knots – and then I realised that was without the staysail drawing – the sheet had freed itself. So, on with the waterproof jacket (don’t worry about the bare legs, they’ll dry and there’s nobody to see).

After that I decided I would have breakfast and then see if any sails need to come down. At that moment the thunderstorm started. It wasn’t very close but close enough to put the phone in the oven.

If it seems an odd thing to do – put your phone in the oven (complete with homely blonde) – the idea is that if the boat should be struck by lightning, every electronic device will be fried in a millisecond – unless it is encased in a metal box. Personally, I think the whole idea sounds a bit suspect but I’m not going to argue.

The next thing you know, the wind has changed and we’re heading south west. That means the running sails have to come down. This time I don the trousers and boots and, clinging on with my fingernails to a foredeck which is now rolling through 600 , I make the mistake of trying to douse the cruising chute with the wind too far aft and wrap it round the forestay. The resulting mess ends up in the cabin with the chute out of its sock and the endless line wrapped six times round everything while I dismantle two booms and get the staysail below where it soaks everything else.

There is now no wind at all and since I have a dinner to go to in Southampton on the eighteen days’ time, on goes the engine and I get to eat breakfast.

By the time this is over, the wind is blowing ten knots from exactly the same direction it was before I took everything down. If only I hadn’t been so keen and had breakfast first…

I looked at the tangled cruising chute and its sock and its endless line (now untied at one end and therefore, by definition, no longer endless) and wondered at the possibility of getting it sorted out. Of course, the only sensible thing to do was hoist it. So – getting soaked in the process – I straightened it all out, stuffed it back in its bag and hauled it on deck. It went up like a lamb.

But then I wasted half an hour rigging the boom and getting half-way through setting the staysail before realising the wind had changed again and we now needed the mainsail – so, away went the staysail (still wet and soaking everything it touched) and up went the main.

It is now nearly lunchtime and I feel I have spent the morning in the gym (certainly, yesterday, I turned the camera on myself and was surprised to see muscles). So, I think I deserve a proper lunch. Although there is still butter and tomatoes for sandwiches, today it shall be the traditional Sunday comfort lunch: Eggs and beans on toast with coffee and HP sauce.

After all, there’s something to celebrate: We’re heading in the right direction…