Force 6 Winds with Force 11 Excitement
Below, exciting sailing.
The low pressure has moved in as expected and due to some great planning and a bit of luck we were in the right position to take advantage of the stronger winds. We started our next watch (1200 to 1400) with the pressure at around 1016, by then end of our watch this had dropped to 1014, indicating some “sporty” weather was likely just around the corner. The pressure continued to fall steadily and by the end of our next watch (1600 to 2000) had fallen to around 1011. The sails were reconfigured (the Goose Wing was removed) as the wind speed increased. The wind also changed direction slightly putting us on to a broad reach. During our watch the wind picked up to between 21 and 24 knots (force 5 to 6) with the sea state around 4. As we had the main and No. 1 Yankee up kept a close eye on conditions as they were close to requiring a reef and possibly sail change. However, the wind and sea states remained steady which made for enjoyable helming (nothing better than surfing down the waves) and no changes were required. I think everyone is happier with the sportier conditions. Although a quiet sail with some pleasant sun on the deck is great, I think we all signed up with expectations of strong winds and heavy seas. Of course, getting both sets of conditions on one trip is a real bonus – great planning Skipper!
Our following watch (0000 to 0400) continued along the same lines as the earlier watch. As it is dark and the sea temperature is dropping, we are being cautious and keeping a regular lookout for ice using night vision aids. We don’t really expect it at the moment, but we’d rather be safe than do some kind of Titanic impression. Windy joined us on deck during this watch. We had bets regarding his first words / action as he came up. True to form (and as we had guessed), he said “Do you mind if I have a little drive to see how she’s handling?” This is Windy’s way of saying “Great conditions – I wanna have a go!”
Overnight the pressure dropped further to 1011. When we returned for our morning watch the sea state was at 5 and the wind was a constant force 6. The best part was that although the sky was grey, there was no rain. The skipper took the helm (below) at the beginning of our watch, much to Linda’s disappointment. We couldn’t prise his fingers off the wheel! In these conditions everyone wants to helm. Eventually the skipper relented and offered the helm to Linda whose eyes lit up like a kid at Christmas. Linda attempted to hog the helm as usual but Byrne was having none of it.
We had one moment of slight concern whilst Byrne was helming. A freak wave suddenly loomed up which was spotted by the wave spotter (this task was being very well handled by Linda at the time) which allowed Byrne to turn hard to port, away from the wave. As the wave was large and fast we couldn’t quite make the turn in time and ended up dipping the boom in the water. Fortunately it was less than a foot and we didn’t pivot off of it, which could have been a little emotional. We were informed that Blue watch were slightly less impressed as they had to mop up all the water in the Galley after this. Helming during that watch was exhilarating and there were whoops of joy as we surfed the waves. Below, Andy at the helm.
Near the end of the watch Andy asked what time Rachel (her watch was next on duty) wanted to be woken. Byrne and Linda suggested that we let them sleep and continue helming! Sadly that was not to be and it was time to switch over to mother watch. Café Rouge was again open for business. This evening we had some fish cakes with some lemon drizzle cake for desert. Ram commented that it was the best meal since the venison, which was a compliment Andy and Linda really appreciated. Washing up duties and cleaning of the heads was left to Byrne and Greg. This is now completed and we have finally found some time to sit and write this blog entry. As we write, we are sadly accompanied by the sound of our faithful donkey. The winds have died down and the sea has become calm. Blue watch have also reported that there are some local magnetic anomalies - the compass appears to be swinging around 30 degrees off and back again. This made helming a whole lot trickier and they eventually gave in and followed the wind and GPS. The wind is also being rather fluky so helming is certainly an experience.
Time to hand this over to the skipper so he can make it available for you to read and then it’s off to bed as it is an early start (0630) so we can have breakfast ready by 0730. Tomorrow we will have a chance shower and shave again. It is amazing how quickly the mother watch seems to come around.
Before we go, we have been asked to comment on kit for the 2nd leg crew. This is indeed a difficult question. The weather has been kind to us which has meant that many of us have too many clothes. However, if we had experienced bad weather we would have been very appreciative of this fact. We would suggest that the packing list provided with the Admin Order is fairly comprehensive and should stand you in good stead. If you can squeeze in a pillow, it is a real nice to have. Also, a neck scarf (for example, Buff) is certainly a worthwhile investment. If the weather is kind you will probably have an opportunity to wash some kit and hang it out – but this is not guaranteed. There are some sleeping bags on board, but you will require a sleeping bag for the transit nights, so make sure you bring one. Morale bakes have gone down very well – so if you are able to bring along a recipe and if possible some packet mixes (enough for 14 people) you’ll make the crew very happy. Keep things simple.
Right, definitely bed time now – it’s 0100.
Yours, Red Watch (Andy, Byrne, Greg and Linda)