Ocean 60 sailing

 In Auckland

Well, what a day! The first bit was working out how we were going to fit all of our stuff and accumulated purchases into three rucksacks. We managed it. Just! Then lunch on the balcony. It was hot, very hot.

Neal contacted us to say that they had planned to go sailing and we were all very welcome to come along. At 1445 we met up with everyone and took Cormac and Cameron for ice cream and a walk. Then we headed back to the boat for the epic run out into the harbour.

You only realise how large the boat is when you are onboard. Everything is so big and heavy; even the fenders. I helped grind the mainsail up and it took 4 of us in relays to do so working in pairs about 2 minutes to raise it the 123 feet. I asked Enda how he managed it on his own? “A little bit at a time”, was the answer!

We headed on out into the 10.8 knot breeze, then when we were on the wind the J2 Genoa was unfurled. Our speed then increased to 13 knots! Fantastic!

Then the clanger came… We had spoken about using drones earlier in the day to take video of the boat for the sponsors and we understood that there would be a rib on hand to do the videoing. No rib! Pierre who had just bought a Mavic Pro like mine a few days before asked if I would put it up to take some shots. “Am, sure”, I said stupidly! No pressure. We are doing 13 knots and I have to launch a drone and then fly around the boat.

Lesson one.  Never trust the settings on another persons equipment. We launched and everything was fine until within a few seconds I realised that the drone had a radius setting activated which meant that once it went to that distance, it would stop and hover until the controller was back within the radius.  Guess what?  You cant turn it off when the drone is flying!  Brilliant, just pure dead brilliant!

What do I do?  Tell them to turn around and sail the half mile back to the drone that we cant see anymore.  So that is what we did.  I was able to see the boat on the camera from the drones position and guide us back to it.  Because of the handicap of the radius we could only sail about 200 mtrs away before we lost signal and the drone went to hover. So we just turned around and passed it again the next time and the time after that.  All the while I was watching the time I had left on the battery.

The next problem was how to get it back.  We were sailing too fast for the aircraft and we also had all of the rigging and sails to contend with. Four attempts to get back to the boat failed because of the issue.  By this stage I was starting to really sweat.  Actually it was running down my arms and every muscle in my arms ached.  By this stage the low battery alarm was sounding and everyone was panicing a bit.  Joanne had gone below, dear love her and we were about a quarter of a mile away from the drone. We turned the boat around for another flyby!  With one attempt left to land the drone before it went into the sea, alarms blaring we had no room for errors.  We bore down on the aircraft and came back into range.  I managed to flick it in fast between the outriggers and shrouds into the had of Pierre before throttling down to stop.

I think I lost about a stone in liquid fear this afternoon.  I could just see myself having to pay for a new drone today.  I looked down at the counter on the screen and we had 33 seconds left of flight time..  Never again!!

When we landed safely, the cheer that went up was amazing. Everyone celebrated and there was lots of high fiving.  I was shaking like a leaf.  I do now have a new claim to fame on how I landed a drone on an Ocean Sixty doing 13 knots in Auckland Harbour.

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