Saturday, 2:45 UT. “It's time, maneuver coming.” From a sort of deep coma, it takes a few long seconds to reconnect the system that allows you to understand this short sentence spoken by one of the men on stand-by. When woken like that, it means that you have the standard 15 minutes to haul yourself out of your bunk and put on clothes appropriate for the season in order to be ready for any eventuality. But when you then hear “Maneuver coming,” that means you've got to get a move on. Up on deck, the watch leader has held off the necessary sail change as long as possible so that we could all be together to do it faster. But impatience mounts, and, barely out, you see that the “coffee grinder” is beckoning. Waking up—be it in the morning or otherwise—can be qualified without a doubt as a bracing experience! If you need more attention, a hot drink or time to stretch, you picked the wrong sport...you should've played football.
This morning, the small gennaker was selected to accompany the descending moon. Not the first time...over the past 24 hours, there was a constant back-and-forth among the sails to see which would have the honor of flying. Why? Shifty trade winds, and squalls that, if not overly violent, have a knack for breaking up the general wind pattern—the famous synoptic wind. In a breeze averaging 10 knots and the sun occasionally obscured by short bursts of rains, the crew was kept busy with sail changes in response to the fluctuating wind. On top of that, a 400-mile day. Today, with the first change of tack since we started expected toward the middle of the day, we will probably do even fewer miles. We probably won't be able to get back up to speeds we reached early in the trip until Sunday evening.
PAPPY GOES TO WAR
It all began like a lottery game. Our dear skipper and nonetheless friend Lionel sent the whole Gitana team a list of highly exotic destinations to choose from. As a gambler and inveterate traveler, I checked all the boxes. A few days later, the list was sent back to me stamped “approved.” Intrigued, I turned the card over and read the rules of this bizarre game...Oh Heavens! I had just signed up for a 10-month stint on Gitana 13.
I, who due to my ripe old age had sworn never to sail again on these overpowered flying machines, was betrayed by my nonchalance.
Why does he want me onboard?
For my muscles?
For my deft sail trimming?
For my touch at the helm?
For my keen navigator's eye?
I doubt it. More likely out of simple friendship or to get me out into the fresh air...and maybe for my skills as a handyman, useful on these long voyages.
Stay tuned for more...