Monday 5th October  - Best laid Plans...

It was indeed lucky that I had been super organised, as this morning I was given my own special present.  Actually to be fair it was mine to share with the two Mikes.  The mid-weight spinnaker we had been flying to try and move us along, had got caught on the spreaders which then proceeded to rip it.  Not just one rip but a whole mid-section that peeled down, banana-skin style right through the middle!
As we were about to go off-watch and try and get some sleep we did, as it was obvious it was going to be a big job!  Two hours later the three of us sat around surveying the damage, with much shaking of heads and tutting.  We'd already done some repairs to this and the heavyweight spinnaker but this was a major job and right in the middle of the sail where much of the stress would be.  Having formed a plan of attack we pulled up a floor board to create a table across the middle of the saloon, banned the rest of the crew from walking through (they'd have to go up the fore-hatch, along the deck and back down the companion way to get from one end of the yacht to the other!) and set about laying out the ripped area.  The boys had both done the sail repair course in Gosport before we'd left and I was now an established member of the team as chief sew-er and also contributor of common sense and general practical nature!  Having watched the guys attempt to pin out a section of the material with unsuitable pins into a hard wooden floor panel I quickly realised we'd be in Rio before repair was done – so suggested that two of us could tension the two sides of the rip while Mike B applied the self adhesive Dacron patches.  This worked a treat and before long we were motoring along the estimated 30ft repair.  Mike R prided himself on estimating the repair time.  The previous repair we'd completed within 5 minutes of the estimate.  We started the mammoth repair today at midday and Mike estimated a brave midnight finish.

The tricky part was the bottom section of the banana-skin rip, which looked rather like Zorro had visited not once, not twice but three times...each time leaving his infamous “Z” calling card slash!  This proved to be quite troublesome to get all sections to lie smoothly – until “Nurse” Rouse (we knew his one-day medics training would come in useful) suggested we use small Dacron “stitches” to roughly hold the bits together while we then applied the proper Dacron “”bandages”!

Once stuck together it was time to reinforce with sewing either side of the rip – around the whole section through the Dacron and bits of sail underneath.  The sewing bit I was quietly confident with as the sewing machine and I were now fully into honeymoon period and working sweetly together!
The tough part was getting the repaired part of the sail anywhere near the needle on the machine as it was right in the middle of a sail the size of a tennis court and the gap between needle and body of the machine – for those who don't know - is only slightly wider than a tennis ball!!!

After 15 minutes of five of us feeding the edge of the sail under the machine foot then rolling the sail from the edge into the tightest 'sail sausage' we could muster, we finally arrived at the point of the repair.  Then followed two and a half hours of machining, while Mike and Mike with additional assistance, fed and guided the humungous sail towards the machine for me.  The heat showed no mercy and the sweat was literally running off all three of us in bucket loads. I now fully appreciate why sweat shops are so called!

We finished just after 8pm – nearly four hours ahead of schedule – much to everyone's amazement (including ours) and the skipper's relief – as the conditions were such that he would want the sail flying again the next day!

Our reward was a to be allowed a bucket of fresh water each so we could have an evening “shower” on deck in the snake-pit – which may not sound very glamorous but under a gorgeous night, star-filled sky – and when you have been as hot and sweaty as we'd been – it was absolute heaven!

All three of us went to bed completely pooped, but clean and feeling pretty proud of our achievement!