My sailing education continues - this time in the hands of a serious Russian charter crew.
|Vladimir and some of his crew|
As Kate and I have shown some success with keeping systems working on Popeye, Craig has asked us to mind the boat while he has chartered it to a Russian group who are racing it in the King's Cup. For insurance purposes, the owner (or their representative) must be present on the boat while racing. Due to a few factors - namely a mostly male, highly chauvinistic crew - I have been chosen to be the person onboard while Kate is ashore dealing with sailmakers, chandlers and boatyards as we try and keep up with the inevitable damage that is done when racing a yacht hard enough to win.
Onboard, I am supposed to the ultimate resource, having everything ready when the charterers climb on; ensuring all is in proper repair; placing the proper items (winch handles, lines, fenders, blocks, halyards, sails, etc.) in their proper places; keeping all systems functioning (electronics, drinking and grey water systems, batteries, engine, anchor and mooring setup, safety lights, power management, refrigeration, etc.); answering questions about the workings of each and every piece and system on the boat; repairing or replacing pieces that fail, jam, squeak when they shouldn't, don't squeak when they should or otherwise misbehave ... all done quickly, because they have a race to win.
"So, how is it going?" you might ask.
Better than you'd think, given my level of experience and knowledge. Two of the crew are trans-ocean crossing champions and are great sources of help for me. During the practice sails and the racing, they are the ones that have come to me with the big challenges - torn sails, stripped halyard covers, broken stanchions and mast cars - looking for my opinion and/or spare parts. Depending on what I have for them, they work with me to find a way to keep the boat going. Just realizing that saying "It's broken and there is nothing we can do," isn't an option is an important lesson. I've learned that there is always SOMETHING that can be done. It may not be perfect and it may not last for a long time, but you can almost always figure out something. We've lashed the broken stanchion to existing deck hardware until we can get to a boatyard. We have gone up the mast, taken down the main halyard and fed the broken cover back into the spectra and whipped it together so the mainsail can go up and down smoothly. We have taken older, spare cars from other sails and modified them to work with the required sails. Getting past that thought that nothing can be done is the biggest step.
All of this is helping my confidence for the intercontinental voyage that will happen next year. What a wonderful education I am getting. I just hope Kate is having as much fun as I am. In the one day of practicing and three days of racing, we have damaged three of the six sails we have on board. Kate has dutifully met me when I came ashore with the damaged sails, rented a car, wound her way through the terrifying experience that is driving in Phuket, dealt with the local sailmaker, then returned the sail back to me to take back to Popeye - usually within 24 hours.
|Pre-race, measuring sails for the IRC certificate|
|Practice day. They sail this boat pretty hard!|
|Hey, that yellow bit is a piece of our spinnaker.|
That's not good.
|Something's wrong with the mainsail|
|Jury rigged car on the mainsail|
|torn leading edge of no. 3 headsail|
|temporarily fixed stanchion|
Ahhh, Kata Beach ...
- Where the bikini and the Speedo are de rigeur regardless of age or body type
|And pirate scarves - perhaps you need one Sean??|
|And I definitely need a tea-cosy hat...|
- Where Asian girls in pretty dresses and big floppy hats jump at the water's edge or make hearts with their shadows in a carefully choreographed photo shoot by their newly wed husband
|The honey-moon photo shoot|
- Where lobster-red bodies bake in the sun, leading to the assumption there is no slip, slop, slap in Moscow
- Where things get stranger and stranger after midnight with an interesting array of services available on the beach
- Where the local language is a blend of Thai, Russian and English with a smattering of Chinese
- Where a mistimed wave can send the occupants of a yellow dingy in for a early morning dunk
This lovely, powdery stretch of sand is my base for the next week, while Sean deals with the needs of his Soviet taskmasters.
Being shore support has kept me hopping, but I do find myself lugging awkward, heavy items up and down the sand where other wives have not much more than their straw mats under their sunscreened-but-still-pink arms. Fortunately, this WILL end with me being supine on a massage mat and a drink not being far away.
|Sean, off to a day at the office|
|Repairing the spinnaker at Rolly Taskers|