"There once was a boat called Rona,
A little bit faster than Shona,
She entered a race,
But lost her pace,
When the main sail fell upon her" - Blue Watch, Leg 2
After months of anticipation and preparation the girls of Leg 2 finally got
their feet on Rona II's deck in Sines. The challenge really started with
stowing the food and making things absolutely ready to cross an ocean in a
very short space of time. Some delicious Portugese custard tarts from
Charlie Clarke of leg 1 were greatly appreciated!
The following evening the parade of sail was an appropriately obnoxious
affair with the crew lined up on the deck, armed with whistles and their
high decibel voices, cheering on the other ships with our notorious Rona Spirit.
The race start was pushed back until 7:30pm and even then we were yelling at
the guys on the start vessel letting them know "Whooo we aaare!" and "Wheere
we come from!".
It was all going to plan (mass seasickness included) until a sleepy and
sicky Blue Watch were snapped awake by the whoosh and crack of main sail
cars falling down the mast. "I honestly don't think I've ever moved so fast
in my life" said Katie Simmons, a professional speedy mover. The huge sail
hung like a broken wing over the port side but it was hauled over and neatly
bagged on to the boom within 5 minutes. It's amazing what adrenaline can do.
Sadly, Rona II's pace dropped dramatically and we all stood scratching our
heads about the mystery halyard eater at the top of the mast.
As dawn broke on day two (May 2nd) Mark Williams (WO White Watch) prepared
for his mission: to recover the halyard in the mast and investigate what had
caused it to chafe away. Ripping off his shirt and grabbing some sick bags
he was safely hoisted to the top of the mast. 85ft above the water line Mark
was alone with 5 bags of his own sick, a fishing line and the unrivalled
bravery of a man prepared to stay up there until the task was complete.
After 98 minutes Mark returned to the deck greeted with a hero's welcome.
"That was heroic" said Len the Skipper. 85ft for mankind, one giant leap for
Scousers. At last Rona II was able to sail again and recover the distance
lost... or so we thought. Disaster struck again at 1 am when the main
halyard once again failed. By now the challenges were building up as
problems with the sat phone, MF radio and fresh water system quickly came to
light but, the spirit of Rona II was never broken!
The seasickness was finally waning on day three and good news from Len &
Chris raised the crews spirits: there would be a rigger at Gran Canaria to
fix the mast! The good news didn't stop there, Mark was once again hoisted
to fix an externally run halyard on the mast. By the end of the day Rona was
flying again on some beautiful unforecast close-hauled sail.
Since then the main is still up! The night watches have had no nasty
surprises, and singing and cakes kept the watches buzzing as we overtook
Wylde Swan (somewhere out there). Although Rona II may seem pretty alone out
here, few ships have been spotted closer than the hazy horizon, we've had
dolphins, turtles and even a collared dove top to say "Hi!".
Now on Day 5 it's safe to say that the food has been on an upward trajectory
since the start (although we haven't managed to beat the custard tarts yet)
A highlight has been the lunch made by White Watch, pulled pork buns and
Morrocan cous cous (very appropriate as that's the nearest land!). Top tip
from Alexa on how to make that perfect, crusty, well risen ciabatta bread:
use the right amount of yeast, twice proof, bake, enjoy. No more About A Boy
duck bread here!