illbruck away again

Weather situation is variable giving navigators a fresh call to arms in the Volvo fleet

Saturday March 23rd 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
From on board SEB , Scott Beavis writes

Today was a good day on board: many miles were easily reeled off under the fractional reaching spinnaker. The last time this sail was seen was in the depths of the Southern Ocean last month.

We now have fewer than 250 miles to go to the left hand turn at Barbuda, and are hoping to wake up to the sight of islands for breakfast. We hoisted our masthead reaching-spinnaker for the second time about an hour ago.

Just after the first hoist, a tear was spotted just outside the clew patch. One flog of the sail and it would have turned into a flag for certain. So we had to peel back to the fractional, repair the sail, pack it and then hoist it again, in total a one-hour operation. Temperatures downstairs have cooled considerably and Glen [Kessels] is now finding it easier to sleep. On deck, board shorts have finally been traded for foul weather gear.

Flying fish have plagued tropically sailors since the dawn of time, and there are numerous stories of the trouble they inflict upon crew. Everyone has heard stories from this race about crew taking body shots, being plastered in the face, finding them wedged in the sail stack and finding fish in the sail bag amongst coils of rope. Here are two more stories that may not have already been told about flying fish.

Sailing along peacefully in about eight to nine knots of breeze under full main and code zero, Glen went to fill one of the ballast tanks. He went through the same procedure he had done a thousand times before. Turn the generator on, open the thru-hull valve, open the horizontal transfer valve, select a tank, open the tank face valve and turn on the ballast pump.

This time the system made an odd sound as he switched on the ballast pump, almost as if something was stuck in the thru-hull valve. He stopped the pump, closed the valve, opened the valve and started the pump.

This time the tank filled, no worries. About 15 minutes later, an unidentifiable crewmember spotted something silver shimmering inside the tank through one of the inspection ports. His intuitive nature led him to open the inspection port. Believe it or not, a flying fish, looking slightly worse for wear (going through a ballast system) was swimming around. I could tell you it flew out of the tank, out the hatch and back into the ocean but that would be stretching the truth a little to far.

The second story happened just this morning while reaching along at pace in 20 knots of breeze. We stuck the bow about one metre under water. The front hatch was open for ventilation and a large amount of water went into the bow section. Another one of our unidentifiable crewmembers went forward to bail out the bow. Upon opening the watertight door he discovered it to be full with flying fish. The sudden burst of light startled the fish sending them into full take-off mode. A squadron of 12 or so flying fish bombarded the poor crewmember as they flew for the light.

Now we have a cabin full of fish, three guys chasing them around trying to catch the escaped fish, a standby watch now woken by the commotion in hysterics in their bunks and one guy using the toilet. Another ‘believe it not’ story maybe but it certainly beats the old ‘a guy gets hit by a fish’ story doesn’t it?

Scott Beavis
Team SEB

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