The first in a three-month blog series about Pixie, a Sadler 32, being sailed by Yachting Monthlys photographer, Graham Snook, with his partner Kirsty, a director of a London PR agency.
The grand voyages of Pixie (page 2)
I went off watch around 4:30 when it started to get light and Kirsty could see our surroundings (and the horizon), about an hour later I got a call from Kirsty. There was now thick fog and a number of fishing boats around us. We had been using our Seame radar enhancer since dusk, and now it was foggy I was glad we had it. Kirsty had managed to thread us though the boats we had seen on our AIS (Automatic Identification System) which is displayed on our chart plotter. The AIS we got from Digital Yacht and shows shipping details, boat names and direction is a great safety addition to the boat, it takes the guesswork out of collision avoidance. So at a quick glance I could see Kirsty was taking the correct action with each of the three vessels. Unfortunately while taking avoid action Kirsty had taken the tiller pilot off the tiller and laid it in the cockpit, an errant wave caught Pixie and it rolled off the seat and stopped working. This was around 06:30 so we’d have to steer by hand for the rest of the day. The fog stayed with us for a couple of hours and eventually cleared. The day started to get brighter and things started looking up.
Anyway with the fog gone the sun came out and the wind came around onto the nose. We started off motor sailing into the confused swell whiched worked at first but as the breeze increased Pixie was getting stopped by the waves.
Then I noticed that the wind charger (Wendy) wobbling around a bit too much. All her supporting brackets were working loose in the swell of the previous night. I got the tools out and fixed it the best I could. We’d been motor sailing as high as we could and the mainsail has been slatting every now and again. I looked up at the mainsail and noticed two battens had come loose, we dropped the main and I took the battens out so they wouldn’t damage themselves or more importantly the sail. With the sail back up I got back to the cockpit and sat down. Bill and Ben the bumble bees could see what was happening around them and took the opportunity to jump ship, both flying off within minutes of each other. I’d rescued a very soggy Ben from under the genoa track at first light, poor little thing was soaked, so I sat him under the spray hood to dry out. It obviously worked because as soon as he could go, he was off.
There was still a swell running and during the night we’d been running the engine to provide the power we needed to run the auto pilot, and radar. But there is something not right about the system as the highest the voltage will get is 13.2 volts but most of the time the charge is about 13.05 volts.
We continued motor sailing, then we heard something metallic fall onto the deck, I looked up and the top batten was poking out. We thought that something had fallen from the sail, but on looking around the boat I noticed 1 of 4 bolts joining the two parts of Wendy’s main pole has worked its way loose and jumped off the back of the boat. Out came the tool box again but we didn’t have any replacement bolts big enough. Out came the bodge tape (duct tape to give it’s trade name) and I tightened the remaining bolts before a liberal application of sticky strong black tape to stop a repeat performance from the deserter’s remaining 3 friends.