Ailsa - Blog 13 Night Watch
Position: 12:31.416N 46:09.207W
Captains log; Stardate 2012-12-11 – 13:30 UTC
3 am, alone in the cockpit. Four feet either side a murky grey interspersed with areas of white surf and 4000m to the bottom. We are over one Abysmmal Plain or another. Above the sky is inky, speckled with a thousand or more white dots. We are about 900 miles from land and although I scan the just visible horizon for the lights of another vessel there are none – in fact we have only seen one vessel’s lights since the second night. Where is everyone? Does it matter? In one way it is a relief because there is less chance of collision but in another it enhances the isolation.
The attention turns to the dial indicating wind speed, it has risen to 15knots apparent – that’s good the boat speed will increase. A new clanging sound, what’s that? Torch to hand to check rigging. Noise traced to a spare halyard – no big deal. Back to the wind speed now reading 20knots apparent. Boat is zipping along but sea is building and anxiety builds with it. The swell approaches from behind, stealthily, felt but not seen. Every few minutes there will be a roar as a wave breaks along the boat. The boat yaws and rolls. The autopilot does its bit and we continue on our course. Wind hits 22knots apparent and boat speed 10knots. Did I read the forecast correctly? Have the gribs masked a problem? Do I sweat it out or get the crew out to reduce sail? Eyes to the sky behind to try to spot the advancing squall. Is that a dark area in the sky to the South East with no stars? If it is a squall will it hit? I check the rigging with the torch – all well – and wait.
Wind speed drops to 18 knots apparent, autopilot doing its job well, squall passes by and boat creaming along nicely. Time for a coffee and seek some solace in the galley. Headphones on, Snow Patrol playing – that will do. 15 minutes to hand over. Another watch survived! How on Earth did Ellen Macarthur manage......