Day 6 and our heavy weight spinnaker - the Black Kite - the kite most prone to disaster is flying once more. I hesitate to say that we're that we're all set up for a stonking kite run. Last time the crew blogged and emailed home to say that our kite was flying nicely we ended up with our best (worst?) wrap yet.
That last wrap was down to a mixture of our inexperience, a fair few mistakes and a bit of bad luck. The bad luck element was that the leech line came out of its seam and during the wrap got caught on the top spreader. Had that not happened we could probably have managed to drop it on deck, untangle the wrap, rewool it and send it back up. As it was, the sail ended up half up, half down, thoroughly jammed, while the crew on the foredeck tried to wrestle acres of developing sail back into the boat. I was on the halyard and when the leech line finally and suddenly came free.
I let it go too quick. Big mistake. Now the sail was in the water along the side of the boat, too heavy to haul in. At this point the sail was still connected to the boat by its three corners: halyard connected to the head, tack to the foot and sheets to the clew. We needed to spike the tack to get the foot in. So far, the way the tack is rigged has eluded all attempt to blow it, except through acrobatics on the bowsprit. True to form, the tack refused to play ball and blow.
The message got back to Olly that the bowman was having no joy. By this point the head had blown all the way to the back of the boat, allowing Olly to grab hold of the halyard. The call went forward: "Hold on the tack, Olly is disconnecting the halyard".
Except the message didn't quite get through. With perfect synchronicity, Olly disconnected the head, the tack was blown, and the sail disappeared into the water behind the boat. His expression of baffled disbelief, the halyard in his hand and no sail was quite special.
There followed an hour of hard work to get the sheets freed from under the boat and haul the sail back in. We've been fortunate. The damage could have been much worse - although it's still given Denise, our sailmaker a good few hours of work. And, when it counted, we all pulled together and got on with fixing things. If we could, however, manage not to break them in the first place it would make a nice change. That's the challenge of the next few days: focus on the helming and the trimming, and stop wrapping the kite.