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  • Writer's pictureFatjax

19 || Furloughed.....if only

13th April Round Bay & Rendezvous Bay St John

Iain has been ticking numerous jobs from The List, which is exciting.

He has been in cupboards, over the engine, under floorboards, through the shower compartment to the water-maker, inside the lockers, not to mention irradiating the odd leak in the bilges.

He has sanded, greased and oiled every moving component in the most obscure places.

Iain has been diving under the boat to scrub the hull, shine the propeller and change the anodes.

He has been winched almost through the block at the top of the mast and down again. But this little incident was only a case of miscommunication and no permanent damage has been done.

While crossing the Atlantic late last year, the windvaine on the B&G masthead unit failed. Luckily between the team they were able to make a new one from credit cards, duck tape and an allen key.

Chris Agar was winched to the top of the mast, under racing conditions to exchange the broken one with the homemade version. This man is fearless!

On the afternoon of 13th April, we left Francis Bay and headed to Round Bay. It was a really exhilarating sail and we both enjoyed the sudden freedom of the open water and the exercise. The boat was doing what she was designed to do. We were sailing. We tacked out of Francis Bay between the US and the British Virgin Islands with only the jib, but at speed and enjoying the blast of movement. I was happy. The gap between the islands is less than half a mile and it suddenly felt very reminiscent of some 25 years ago when we tacked from bank to bank, in-between the anchorage up and down the River Orwell, on Iain’s father’s boat with our then babies. We would wait for them to have an afternoon nap all strapped into the forepeak and off we’d play. It was fun then, and we found ourselves in our old rhythm working as a team from years gone by.

Once in the quiet, still anchorage, it was decided the new windvaine should be installed. I was given a list of instructions and useful information:

Iain’s life was in my hands.

If I dropped him, he would die.

If the phone rings, do not answer it.

Keep looking up.

Winch with conviction - speed No. 2

Keep your finger on the button.

When I give the hand signal STOP.

Anyone who has sailed with Iain over the years, will be familiar with a command often heard yelled from the helm.


With this in mind. I was ready. I would keep my finger on the button until I saw the hand signal. Iain progressed up the mast, and up, and up, and up, and up.

I did not see the hand signal but I heard the winch strain, I could see Iain was at a similar point on the mast to the mainsail when fully hoisted. I did the unthinkable, I thought. I took my finger off the button, expecting to be severely chastised from on high, which I was, but for a different reason.

Iain could not let go of the many items he had in his hands to signal, so he hollowed the command to STOP.

I could not hear him above the wind and the grinding winch. Not to mention he was

24.6 meters above me. However, the rest of the anchorage could hear the tirade of abuse being bellowed from on high. Yes, the anchorage knew we had arrived.

I could have seriously maimed him. Iain was less than happy, really so was I. I had winched his favourite teeshirt and part of the flesh on his shoulder into the block. But all is well now. We applied some TCP and he drank a good measure of rum punch while I mended the hole in his teeshirt and the whole incident has not been mentioned since.

All this being said, the spreadsheet for The List is turning from green; meaning pending, to yellow; completed! A veritable yellow brick road is emerging ready to lead us to safer waters.

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