Ellen MacArthur achieved fame as a yachtswoman, breaking the world record for a solo circumnavigation of the globe by a woman in 2001 and by anyone in 2005. Her writing is autobiographical, a true story in which she describes her attempt to repair the mast.
The key to understanding this passage is being able to appreciate the dangers that Ellen faced, how she reacted to them and what this tells us about her character.
Understanding the text
Ellen faces many hardships and demonstrates that she is a resourceful and determined person, possessed of physical and emotional strength.
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Ellen MacArthur - author and sailor who is fixing up her halyard. She talks to herself a lot, especially during the last parts of the climb ("Not far now, kiddo") as if she is a parent talking to a small child. This portrays how alone she is on the boat and ther struggle to the top of the mast.
Many ellipses (" ... ") and dashes (" - ") are used to cut sentences short and keep a brief narrative. Also, this could signify an edit from the original text to shorten the current article.
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MacArthur narrates about her preparations for the climb ("worked through the night preparing for it") and introduces some of the equipment she has to take on the climb. Also, she vaguely highlights the risks about equipment failure ("not get caught as I climbed"). She also states the risk of injury ("thrown against the mass"...."not difficult to break bones up there").
She describes the preparations on the deck of the Kingfisher. Also, she describes the risk of running out of energy and not finishing the climb. She also mentions that she is a "passive observer looking down on your boat some 90 feet below" - this shows how high she has climbed her mast and the actual risk she is taking by climbing alone. There is no one else to "attend to it" which increases her risk of...