Our gun went off at 1400. By then, we'd already solved one crisis--a missing batten in the mainsail--and were working to reconfigure the mainsheet traveler, which couldn't be trimmed high enough to windward. I shrugged and enjoyed a great afternoon sail, which was followed that evening by shepherd's pie. By the time I hit my bunk, at 2100, I'd already reached a milestone when land, never more than a few miles off during a lifetime of sailing, finally slipped below the horizon.
Shortly before midnight, I awoke for my first watch and realized that an inexorable change had taken place during my slumber--I wasn't feeling so hot. Though green around the gills, I pulled on my foulies and harness and went topside. Ralph was driving and talking with Chris; Gavin was slumped on the leeward side of the cockpit. He and I exchanged knowing glances. In the darkness, the boat pitched in the ocean swell, and intermittent spray sparkled like gems in the red and green running lights. The wind was blowing 18 to 20 knots and had shifted from southeast to south-southeast. Sometime during the watch, Chris, Ralph, and Gavin had tacked onto starboard. I glanced at the speedo, expecting to see at least 6 or 7 knots. I was in for a surprise: It read 3.5 knots. We'd had problems with the gauge earlier in the day, but something felt wrong. I switched on my headlamp and looked to leeward to see our No. 2 genoa clinging grimly to the side of the boat like a bedraggled remora. The sail had wriggled partway out of the bag, which had been tied to the toerail. I yelled, and several of the crew joined me in a frantic effort to save it. Once it was aboard and properly lashed on the starboard rail, we all sat panting, looking at each other, and the speedo jumped to 7. I felt the shepherd's pie shift, as though deciding where it was most comfortable--up or down--and then the nausea passed. I was now truly part of the crew.