Tough Start and Crew Injury

So another tough start to a leg! After escaping from Table Mountain’s wind shadow sail changes were quickly the order of the day, first a reef then a headsail change from Yankee 1 down to Yankee 2. This presented the first issue of the race as the Yankee 1 got swept over the guardrail and into the water. It took all of the crew to manhandle the sail back into the boat. No sooner than it was inboard than the reefing line parted inside the boom, with the accompanying gunshot sound. A quick second reef was therefore required and a team started working on running a new Reef 1 line through the boom. The rest of the first night was then without incident, apart from dodging all the commercial traffic.

The following morning as the wind continued to build I achieved another of my sailing objectives by rounding the Cape of Good Hope and we officially crossed into the Indian Ocean.

The wind continued to increase and we had to quickly move down through the sails until we were at Reef 3 and the Yankee 3 alone. Conditions were taxing on the helm in gusts of 59 Knots and beam seas, with large breaking waves. A quick bear away was required by the helm if the boat was likely to be hit by a breaking wave as this could result in a knock down! A fate that befell LondonDerry.

However, unfortunately it was during the headsail change to the Yankee 3 that our crew member, David Griffiths, got injured in what can only be described as a freak accident. Whilst working on the foredeck he got swept back by a massive wave into a deck cleat that basically went straight through his calf! After assessing the injury and discussion with onshore medical team and the South African coastguard it was decided that a medical evacuation was required. So, whilst lying in 3rd we had to divert to the nearest tenable port in the prevailing conditions that was Port Elizabeth, some 24 hours away. Upon arrival at Port Elizabeth it was decided the quickest and easiest way to achieve the transfer was for the Coastguard to launch a rescue boat and meet us outside the port and effect the transfer at sea. So at just past 3pm on the 7th Nov we hove too in an anchorage outside the port and completed the transfer. This was an emotional time for all of the crew. It was quite hard waving goodbye to one of your crew mates and then resetting the sails and turning back towards Albany.

Our thoughts and best wishes go to David and his family. Also a big HATS OFF to the South African Coastguard and lifeboats agency who did a fantastic job, as did our skipper Matt!

This is one of the reasons I chose to raise money for the RNLI – the fantastic job the volunteers do! So dig deep and donate!!

Now 24 hours later we are heading South on the Great Circle route for Albany, the wind and weather has abated to the point that we are back under full main and our Code 2 spinnaker as we charge down South to get onto the right side of some predicted low pressure systems in 4 days time.

STOP Press: As I write this blog there has been a call from the deck to say that the Vang has snapped. The Vang prevents the boom from lifting when we are sailing downwind and stops the main de-powering. More on this in the next blog therefore!

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My Clipper 13-14 Adventure