Leg 5, Race 7 – Day 27, 27th March

Got up with my watch on night duty and being able to do little else, made a cake for the Californian crew as we would be doing a transfer to them later in the day and thought it would a nice gesture to send them some goodies. My usefulness then being over and as I still wasn't on top form I was excused and set back to bed.

I was woken by hearing repeated messages from Pete, the Californian skipper on the radio. His handheld VHF had died so he was using his main set. He could therefore transmit but wouldn't be able to hear any response from us. For this reason he was clearly repeating his messages several times over to make sure we had heard and he asked for us to acknowledge and answer by using our flashlight to signal back to them we had received the message

The sea was not much calmer but just enough for Pete to request that we do a boat to boat transfer asap so they could get the spare hand-held VHF radio before it got any feistier and their chance of regaining proper comms was lost for another day. It sounded like it was all going to happen quickly so I leapt out of bed – or as near to leaping out of bed as I could get with an arm in a sling - which involved lots of wriggling and leg thrashing just to gain a few inches of movement out of my sleeping bag. I quickly decanted the cake into a spare Tupperware container and stashed that, the messages I'd written out, some bags of sweets donated from a few of the crew, the spare VHF radio and a few tools they'd requested to help them build their jury rig, all into a dry bag and then into the orange canister ready for transferring across to them. For the first time in a week I then struggled into my lifejacket and got on deck to witness the exchange.

It took a while for them to close in – Jeremy and Jo were standing on the stern, each with a luminous orange gauntlet glove on, trying to signal to them to manoeuvre to our starboard side ready for the transfer. Eventually they deciphered the wild waving signals correctly. The Californian clipper really did look a sad sight with all but the stumpy remains of its mast and rig missing, as it surfed down the truly dwarfing waves. In a surge of compassion and wanting to show all the support we could, I scrambled back down below deck, rummaged for our courtesy stars and stripes and with Jeremy's help attached it to our boat hook. Then as they approached close enough to see us clearly we waved their flag at them enthusiastically. Charlie was on the helm and tried to hold Umba on a steady course as the crippled clipper closed in on our starboard side. Pete drew in as close as he dared so Brendan could lob the line across to them. A wave brought us perilously close. Brendan seized the moment, the line was tossed and caught and Pete quickly spun California around and away as we heaved the canister over the side leaving them hauling on the line for all they were worth, eager to get to the contents.

Within minutes they were on the radio. Relieved to be back on 2-way comms again and expressing deep gratitude for the cake, the goodies and most of all for the messages from their nearest and dearest which numerous pairs of eyes were now hungrily devouring.  We hadn't done much but all felt the satisfaction from being able to deliver what was most needed to our fellow crew members who had been through an ordeal we could barely begin to imagine.