I survived the night (well the midnight to 4am shift) without falling out of the bunk and had an early breakfast - well a cuppa tea at least. It was still extremely cold (I had every bit of clothing I had brought along on all ready) because of the clear skies.
It seemed strange to be woken up so early and then be told to drive a 35 ton vehicle in near darkness and in shifting wind conditions....and without the use of an engine, or indeed lights!
As the day wore on the sun came out and we started more and more sailing drills....changing sails for no good reason and man over board drills.
We had been drilled about safety extensively-almost the first thing we were told was "one hand for you and one for the boat", suggesting that one hand was to be used at all times to ensure we were safe.
One of the key safety drills was the man over board procedure which we had been walked through and performed once or twice. However we knew that today would be the key day for practice and we were all anticipating an "emergency" at almost any time.
It happened as soon as the other shift had joined us on board with coffee: baldrick (a buoy with a hand-drawn face on the front) was pushed off the boat. I was very close to the action, so yelled man overboard and started pointing immediately! Pointing was the most surprising task that is allocated in the drill, with at least person, and preferably more allocated to the task of pointing to the casualty.
The purpose is to ensure the person is not lost, as well as to provide an easy reference for the helmsperson to spot the location they are trying to get back to.
Almost the first thing that happened after my yell was that a dan buoy was thrown in - a life buoy with a big flag (make it easy for the boat to see in heavy weather as well as easy for the casualty to see to enable them to swim to the buoy).
Skippy was at the helm, and he called for everyone to sit down as he performed an emergency stop by sailing directly into the wind. He needed everyone to sit down, as there is always a danger of the boom flying over quickly and the last thing we want is another man overboard to deal with!
As soon as that maneuver wad completed the sails were dropped onto the deck and two people sat on them to stop them blowing overboard.
At the same time someone went down below to the navigation station and switched on the engine and pressed the man over board (helpfully labeled MOB) tracker - this marks the location of the event, so if it takes some time to turn around an accurate location to start the search is known.
An emergency call was simulated at the same time-there is prescribed form for such calls, but needless to say the coast guard are not wanting to be alerted for each drill, so it was all done without switching on the engine.
Skippy then turned the boat round, motored round and positioned the MOB on the lee ward side of the boat - the last thing you want is after falling off the boat to then be run down by 35 tons of wood! We picked up Baldrick by boat hook and the drill was over!
When I was younger I had flown in a Chipmunk with the RAF- I was 14. Part of the training was how to use a parachute, and in the video both passengers (the planes only have two seats), climbed out of the cockpit onto the wings, moved slowly to the edge, and jumped off deploying their parachutes soon afterwards.
However I may have been only 14 but I spotted a potential flaw-when I asked what happened if the plane was not flying horizontally at a level speed in good visibility what would happen my instructor said that the odds would not be good in such circumstances!
It struck me that this drill was quite similar, although I was told in the last race one person had been lost overboard in the southern ocean, and had been recover all well, albeit a little cold in only 12 minutes!
We chose to anchor up rather than sail all evening - this meant much better sleeping and shorter night shifts-two people on one two hour shift each!
The first job on finding suitable berth (just off sandbanks) was to get the anchor out. It is housed in a small rope locker in the bow. Despite being tallest and broadest on board it was decided I was the man to get the anchor and all the chain out.
I have no idea how much chain there was -about 100m I would guess, which equates to a months weight training, but it was very heavy!
My favourite moment came when allocating the shifts...skippy was trying to allocate the 2am to 4am shift....probably the worst of all. He was selling it as the sunrise shift...watch the sun come up, and one chap, who was probably too tired to think properly quickly volunteered himself and another for the shift.....before we all started laughing-no way was the sun coming up at such an ungodly hour! Still there is one born every minute!