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Today's major event was a loud bang just before 1 am, yours truly was on

watch (why do these things happen on my watch?). The skipper who had been

sleeping directly below the source had a pretty good idea of the problem

before he had even thrown his clothes on. He came rushing through the boat

calling “all hands on deck”. Joe and Paul followed him up the companionway.

By torchlight we could see the portside inner forward (effectively a

babystay) hanging loose. We furled the remaining scrap of jib and eased the

main. Then Joe and Kevin went forward, the deck fitting had given way,

sheared off at the bolts, later examination showed signs of rust on the

broken edges, both bolts had been cracked for some time explaining some of

the noise there has been above our heads when in bed at sea. Cracks that

would be invisible under hand-sized ovals of 1cm thick stainless steel.

By the light of the moon the boys retied the dinghy strap which had been

fastened around the bottom of the stay and then set to work hunting out

blocks and some dynema to create a make shift fixing on the toerail. It took

less than an hour after the heartstopping bang for us to be sailing again,

the temporary fix should hold as long as the toerail remains in place and

get us to Grenada. The rig is not compromised as the baby stay is more about

sail trim than holding it up but it does make us all wonder what is under

the other fittings, a thought which we put away once we'd discussed the

impossibilty of xraying each in turn at our destination.

Through the remaining night the wind moderated to ENE or NE F3-4 though the

seas remain lumpy delivering the odd cockpit washdown. Kevin spent his 5-7am

watch thinking about potential repairs which he talked through with the

first person to appear on deck at daybreak (me). By 07:30 Joe was claiming

for double time for commencing work on a Saturday and prior to 09:00; the

skipper pointed out that in the land of work (aka the UK) it was already

09:30! Paul slept, I made tea, caught up on the nav and took some photo's

whilst the metal workshop in the cockpit hunted down bolts, nuts, tools and

drill bits. Pilot holes widened bit by bit (excuse the pun) until they'd

take the biggest bolts on board 10mm. At one point they'd had to unpack all

the storage cabin to get to the big inverter (stowed safely as the back) to

charge the drill batteries but by 15:20 the tools were away, the cockpit

swilled; job done though the emergency fitting on the toerail remains in

place just in case it is needed again over the next 1500nm.

MV Infinity called us up after lunch – our first ship since Minddelo and he

spotted us before we saw him, mainly because everyone was engrossed in

drilling holes. He was bound for Barcelona, despite his size I doubt it'll

be a pleasant trip as it is straight into both wind and 2 or 3m waves.

Meanwhile the galley slave opened the last of the refrigerated vac packs –

two failed the sniff test, the other three made one “is it lamb or is it

veal” curry and two beef stews – suppers for the next few nights.

Everything on deck facing aft is now covered in red Saharan dust that

transfers itself to everything else where it sticks due to the generous

helping of salt adhering to crew and boat. Yuk could do with some rain to

wash it down. Our noon to noon run was 172nm bringing the total since

leaving Mindelo to 525 and being a bit below the rhumb line between

waypoints I3 and I4 and close to the latter have moved on to I5 our halfway

point. It feels like we are making progress west. All well on board.