Challenger GBR301 Wednesday Evening

on . Posted in 2016 Blogs

After a decent night making steady headway alternating between headsails and the Code zero we thought life was pretty good onboard Challenger until with the coming up of the sun, the Zero started to wilt, the main started to slat and in short order we ran slap bang into the middle of a wind hole.  For those who have experience of such things let me clarify that this was not the kind of wind hole that comes complete with mill pond conditions, whistful memories and philosophical reflection- No this is was the other kind with messy rolling swell left over from what ever was blowing before and only the slap and bang of the mainsheet, wildly tipping decks and the epic frustrations of 14 people who are convinced ours is the only boat stuck in such a way.
You can just imagine their reaction when I revealed at midday that we actually were the only boat going no where. Well,here's the thing in fact as a good captain should I took a longer term view of the situation and in order to keep moral high whilst times were tough I garnished the truth with a little peck of flat out deception and just told them all the boats was equally stuck - which put everyone at ease, kept them focused on problem solving and avoided any teenage meltdowns.  4 hours later we had serviced the main sliders, sewn some tell tales back into the leech on the main and put some extra chafe guard on a kite halyard when the wind started to filter back in and we quickly changed up from the zero to jib and staysail then to first reef.
The afternoon was then a fantastic ride- 11-12 knots straight down the line to Grenada with everyone helming the boat at her polar best for this wind angle and a good feed of cous cous, vegetables and lime juice to rally energies.
As the afternoon wore to a close and it was apparent we had had a very good run I reworked my assessment of the morning's shenanigans and revealed that indeed as suspected there was no god and if there was then he/she or it obviously did not like the cut of our jib.  The crew were sad, the crew were dispirited and then the captain went on to mention that the latest sched showed we had made gains, that god was now smiling on us and perhaps even favouring us somewhat.  Suddenly the crew began to smile and feel good about themselves again, things were not so bad  Skippering 101- sailors are simple creatures so tell them what they want to hear. At that moment,on time, the wind started to veer, our sliegh ride came to an end and we started to go onto the beat. 25knots on the nose now and perhaps more to come. So what do I tell the crew? That there is more foul weather ahead and things are going to be unpleasant? Of course not. Skippering 102 - always remind a sailor how lucky he/she is. I'm just off on deck to start a discussion how fantastic it will be to begin a tenacious come back beating upwind in a Volvo 60 one of the world's best boats to go to weather in.