Breaking sheets! / Brechende Schoten!

On Friday 07. November we had tried to sail from Porto Santo to Madeira but 2nm after we had left the harbour the wind died and it did not look as if it would pick up again during the day. So the girls took the chance to take a swim and we tried out an 33 year old automatic life jacket. Maria put it on and jumped into the water. And surprisingly after ca. 10 seconds it started to blow itself up. I was very surprised that it still worked after being not serviced for many years and looking quite rotten. Julia and Maria swam an hour next to the boat back to Porto Santo where we joined the other boats in the anchor field.
But the next morning, Saturday 8. November, the wind was fair and from north east which meant a downwind course. We left the anchorage at the same time as Mike and Asa on Seahawk, the Dutch boat Pacific had left a little earlier and the American catamaran Makara had been the very first to start.
So we started with Seahawk by sunshine and under spinaker. We were considerably quicker and were even able to catch up with Pacific because they had not put up their full sail area, otherwise we would have had no chance with them being twice as long as us. We were doing well over 6knots, sometimes even 7.
After we got out of the swell protection of the island Porto Santo the wind increased, it started to shower occasionally and the speed went in the surf to over 8 knots. Time to get the spinaker down. I had just said to Julia and Maria that this is getting to dangerous when with a big bang the windward sheet of the spinaker broke. So I went to the foredeck and pulled the cover over the spinaker and it was almost in. I then saw that the sheet apparently broke exactly within the knot because there was no piece of rope on the sail left. Now I know how much the 8mm ropes hold.
We carried on just under the mainsail because we were not really slower than with the spinaker. When later the wind decrease we rolled out the genoa and put the sails in butterfly position.
Meanwhile Pacific had overtaken us so we just could follow them without staring at the compass all the time. When we approached the north-east tip of Madeira with its light house we also saw Makara coming from the south east but they took a little detour to a natural arch in the cliffs.
After rounding the corner we tacked up the coast for 2,5nm to the anchorage in the Baia de Ariba. Pacific had arrived literally a few minutes earlier and it took them two attempts to find a spot where their anchor holds. We luckily found at the first attempt a spot that had a very good holding ground.
But the weather was not the very best. Strong gusts of wind made a howling wind in the rigging and the occasional showers of drizzling rain continued.
Soon after us Makara arrived and then also Seahawk sailed into the bay. She managed to sail all the way to her anchor spot.
In this bay we finally managed to hollow our pumpkin we had originally bought for Halloween a week earlier and it gave us a delicious Pumpkin soup.

Later we went over to the American Catamaran Makara and had a little party evening with our hollow pumpkin and a freshly backed chocolate cake. Unfortunately Mikes dinghi had flipped over and the outboard enginge had gotten wet. He tried to fix it immediatly with my tools but in the dark with only a head lamp on and a wind shaken boat it was too difficult. So he left it until the morning, being grumpy at the beginning of the evening. But then with sun light and calmer conditions in the cockpit of his boat, he got it back running after a short while.

Here are pictures of that day: Porto Santo to Madeira